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GE U8B/BB907/D9E
B-B Diesel Electric

Above: Saigon based D9E-251outside Saigon Locomotive Depot in May, 2015.

Above: D9E-217 shunting (switching) at Saigon Station, 2010

These locomotives were originally built by General Electric in the US as their model U8B (not by General Motors as stated in Tim Doling's book) and were supplied to the then southern system in the early 1960's. Building commenced in 1963 (again not in 1960 as stated in Tim Doling's book). The 'handshake' logo on the cabs of the BB's suggests some sort of donation? Apparently they were purchased (along with 200 "20 ton and 30 ton" freight wagons) using part of a US$7.8 million grant from the US. They were originally classified as BB907 class and were numbered 907 to 954. After 1975 they became part of the new unified rail system and were re-classified as D9E class, numbered from 207 to 254. They have Caterpillar D398 12 cylinder engines rated at 900 hp/678 kw. They appear to be  a pretty rugged and reliable machine as quite a few are still in operation nearly 50 years after delivery. These machines seem to operate mainly in the south of the country, around Sài Gòn. An attempt has been made to re-engine several with new Caterpillar engines giving a slight increase in power. The modified machines are classified as D10E class, but the road numbers appear to stay the same.No furher locomotives have been converted.

Similar locomotives are/were in operation in a number of countries including New Zealand and The Philippines.

D9E 217 001
Above: D9E shunting (switching) at Saigon Station in January 2012

D9E double

Above: D9E-248 and D9E-251 'On Shed' at Saigon Locomotive Depot, May 2015.


Above: D9E-245 waiting for the road to head towards Saigon at Thap Cham, March 2011. I think the red flag is pretty universal. "Don't move the train while the flag is displayed".


Manufactured by
General Electric, USA
U8B 900
Original Class
No. Delivered
No. in Service (2011)
Road Numbers
Original Road Nos.
BB907-929  (builders # 34827-34894) 5-9/63; BB930-939 (builders # 35370-35379) 12/64; BB940-954 (builder's # 35408-35422) 3-4/65.
Caterpillar D398 Rated at 910hp/678 kw. D10E Cat 3512A 1000 hp
49.44 tonnes/100,000 lbs (this converts to 44.6 tonnes (?)
Total length
33' 06"/10058 mm
Height from Rail
11' 10"/3596.6 mm
Maximum width over cab
9 '/2743 mm
Width over hood
8 '10"/2712 mm
Wheel Diameter
36"/914 mm
Main generator
Maximum Speed
55 mph/88 kph
Traction Motors
GE 748 x 4

Locomotive List

Original Road No. DSVN Road No. Builder's No. Year Built/Comments Depot (2011)*
BB907 D9E-207 34827 1963 Vinh
BB908 D9E-208 34828 1963 Sài Gòn
BB909 D9E-209 34829 1963 Sài Gòn
BB910 D9E-210 34830 1963
BB911 D9E-211 34831 1963 Vinh
BB912 D9E-212 34832 1963 Sài Gòn
BB913 D9E-213 34833 1963
BB914 D9E-214 34834 1963 Yên Viên
BB915 D9E-215 34835 1963 Vinh
BB916 D9E-216 34836 1963 Yên Viên
BB917 D9E-217 34837 1963 Sài Gòn
BB918 D9E-218 34838 1963 Vinh
BB919 D9E-219 34839 1963 Sài Gòn
BB920 D9E-220 34840 1963
BB921 D9E-221 34841 1963
BB922 D9E-222 34842 1963 Đà Nẵng
BB923 D9E-223 34843 1963
BB924 D9E-224 34844 1963
BB925 D9E-225 34845 1963
BB926 D9E-226 34846 1963 Sài Gòn Carriage and Wagon Co.
BB927 D9E-227 34847 1963 Sài Gòn
BB928 D9E-228 34848 1963
BB929 D9E-229 34849 1963 Đà Nẵng
BB930 D9E-230 35370 1964 Vinh
BB931 D9E-231 35371 1964 Yên Vien
BB932 D9E-232 35372 1964 Vinh
BB933 D9E-233 35373 1964, Scrapped ́
BB934 D9E-234 35374 1964 Vinh
BB935 D9E-235 35375 1964 Đà Nẵng
BB936 D9E-236/D10E-236 35376 1964 Sài Gòn
BB937 D9E-237 35377 1964
BB938 D9E-238 35378 1964
BB939 D9E-239 35379 1964
BB940 D9E-240 35408 1965
BB941 D9E-241 35409 1965 Đà Nẵng
BB942 D9E-242 35410 1965
BB943 D9E-243 35411 1965
BB944 D9E-244 35412 1965 Sài Gòn
BB945 D9E-245 35413 1965 Sài Gòn
BB946 D9E-246 35414 1965 Vinh
BB947 D9E-247 35415 1965
BB948 D9E-248 35416 1965 Sài Gòn
BB949 D9E-249 35417 1965 Yên Viên
BB950 D9E-250/D10E-250 35418 1965 Sài Gòn
BB951 D9E-251 35419 1965 Sài Gòn
BB952 D9E-252 35420 1965 Vinh
BB953 D9E-253 35421 1965 Yên Viên
BB954 D9E-254 35422 1965 Sài Gòn

*The above list of locomotive allocations is taken from 'The Railways and Tramways of Việt Nam' by Tim Doling. However Mr. Doling lists D9E-233 as still active when all other sources list it as scrapped (there is a photo of it's remains so I guess the scrapping is correct)

The following images are taken from wartime military films and photos taken at the time. They are posted purely for historical purposes.

'BB907' class locomotives in southern service

Brand new 930 931

Above: Brand new BB 930 and 931 in 1963. Here they are classified as U10B. This is not correct.



Above: (Left)BB931 at Thap Cham 1967

The following images are screen captures taken from digitised movie film, hence the poor quality.
Above: Left:BB-945 crossing an unknown bridge with a mixed freight, 1967 Right:BB-950 in Saigon Yard, July 1967. Note builders plate under locomotive number. These appear to have been removed or lost in DSVN service.


Above: Both photos from National Geographic Magazine dated 1964. The BB907's are almost brand new. Left: An image of the cab side of BB913.  The clasped hands represent the US Agency of International Development apparently while the GE builder's plate is firmly fixed in place. Right: This appears to be BB-929 (my eyes aren't as good as they used to be) which the article says will not be repaired. Apparently they must have changed their minds becuse D9E-229 (BB-929) is listed as being alive and well in Danang in 2011!

crossing the river

Above: Unknown BB-907 class leaves the bridge at Tuy Hoa some time in the 1960's.

BB907 at Long Binh
BB907 at Long Binh 2

Above: The two photos above show what appears to be BB-947 (D9E-247) hauling a short freight train (looks like flat cars with some sort of earth moving equipment) at "Long Binh", near Saigon, in 1972.
 Note apparently freshly ballasted track and interesting paint scheme on coach behind. I'm still trying to establish just exactly where the 'Long Binh' referred to is, as there are no rail facilities anywhere near the Long Binh near Bien Hoa these days.
Photos by John Beirne from the website of Mike Condren.

Red D9E

Above: This fuzzy image shows an unidentified D9E class in a red and white colour scheme, similar to the D13E class and D12E class. There were some coaches also in this colour scheme. I'm guessing sometime in the 1980's or early 90's, before the establishment of the DSVN. More information needed.

Cab Views

Inside the Cab of D9E/D10E -250

cab 1cab 2

cab3cab 4


Click on thumbnails for fullsize image








Locomotive Classifications

Steam Locomotives generally used the traditional French classification system. A steam locomotive with a 2-8-2 wheel arrangement is classified as 141 class, a locomotive with  4-6-2 wheel arrangement is classified as 231 class etc. To differentiate between different locomotives with the same wheel arrangement, the initial road number was added, e.g. 231-400 and 231-500. Some northern locomotives of Chinese origin were also known by their Chinese classification. e.g. 141 also known as ZL.

Diesel locomotives have a completely dfferent clasification system.

All diesel classes start with the letter 'D'  (for diesel or possibly dau may for engine?) then a number which I believe is related to the locomotives  power output. The third character defines  Electric' (E) or hydraulic  (H).

e.g. D5H class = Diesel + 500 hp + hydraulic.

Before 1975 in the south  diesels used the French system , e.g. BB for  Bo-Bo type locomotive then the initial road number. e.g. BB901 class.

In the North there appears to have been a mixture of different systems.

There is also a semi-official system where locomotives are classified by their country of origin. e.g D5H is also known as 'Ừc' (Australian).

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  Updated December 28,  2020
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