Prototype: Belgian State Railroad (SNCB/NMBS) class 1 express steam locomotive. Road number 1.030. The locomotive looks as it did around 1953/54.
The Belgian State Railways NMBS/SNCB were also faced with the problem starting in the Thirties of how to meet the increasing competition from automobiles and airplanes. Complicating the situation was the fact that the high quality express trains were becoming increasingly heavier and despite everything were to be pulled even faster. The motive power for the heavy express trains hauled them on the route Oostende – Brussels – Liège – Germany and on the route from Brussels via Arlon to Luxembourg with its many grades at an average speed of 80 or even 100 km/h / 50 or even 63 mph. The NMBS/SNCB under its head engineer Raoul Notesse therefore let out a contract for the development of a new express train Pacific, whose design was done in cooperation with the consortium of Belgian locomotive builders Tubize, Cockerill, La Meuse, and Haine-St Pierre. Between 1935 and 1938, 35 units were built as road numbers 1.001-1.035. Undoubtedly, they formed one of the high points of Belgian locomotive building. The extremely successful external shape of the class 1 clearly characterized the mighty power of these units. With a performance of 3,400 horsepower, an axle load of 22 metric tons, and a maximum speed of 140 km/h / 88 mph, they could pull a 600 metric ton train at 120 km/h / 75 mph on level terrain or a 350 metric ton train at 140 km/h / 88 mph. They occupied a position of honor in international comparisons too. The massive boiler with a pressure of 18 bar or 261 pounds per square inch was equipped with a grate of 5 square meters or 53.82 square feet, which was provided with two fire doors. The units had a bar frame with a cast steel trailing truck frame of the American Delta design. All of the pilot truck, trailing truck, and tender wheel sets were mounted in roller bearings. The generously dimensioned grate and the modern double Kylchap forced draught equipment guaranteed the necessary high boiler performance to supply the four-cylinder running gear with the required amount of steam. The four cylinders were arranged on one level, whereby the inboard cylinders were linked to the first set of driving wheels and the outboard cylinders were linked to the second set of driving wheels. Contemporary accessories formed the partially streamlined front of the locomotive. After their delivery, these Pacific locomotives quickly took over all important express train service on the Belgian main routes between Oostende, Brussels, and Liège as well as to Aachen and to Luxembourg. Yet by the Mid-Fifties, their star began to sink, because the introduction of new diesel locomotives and the electrification of large parts of the Belgian network displaced them to subordinate service. After less than 30 years of service, all of the remaining units were retired in 1962 – with the exception of road number 1.001 involved in an accident in 1954. Only road number 1.002 remained preserved. It was overhauled for the 150th anniversary of Belgian Railways in 1985, and was then used for several years for special runs. Currently it can be admired at the railroad museum Chemins de Fer à Vapeur des trois Vallées in Treignes (CFV3V) in the South of Wallonia.