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A 2-unit boxcab electric locomotive of the Milwaukee Road.
Preserved Alco boxcab at the North Alabama Railroad Museum

A boxcab, in railroad terminology, is a locomotive in which the machinery and crew areas are enclosed in a box-like superstructure (from boxcar). It is a term mostly used in North America while in Victoria (Australia), such locomotives have been nicknamed "butterboxes" (Victorian Railways second series "E" Class electric locomotives numbered E1102 to E1111). Boxcabs may use any source of power but most are diesel or electric locomotives. Few steam locomotives are so described but the British SR Leader class was a possible exception. Most American boxcabs date from before World War II, when the earliest boxcabs were often termed "oil-electrics" to avoid the use of the German name "Diesel" due to propaganda purposes.


Boxcabs do not have heavily styled ends, or a superstructure consisting of multiple boxy structures, although the prototype diesel/oil-electric, GE #8835, had one prominently-rounded nose (from its trolley (tram) car ancestry) and the second and following 100-ton ALCO boxcabs had semi-cylindrical ends.


The construction of double-ended (and a small number of single-ended) boxcab diesel locomotives was common in Australia from 1969 until the 1980s. These were mainly GM-EMD derivatives built by Clyde Engineering with a smaller number of Alco derivatives built by A. E. Goodwin/Commonwealth Engineering and GE derivatives by A. Goninan & Co/UGL Rail.

Great Britain[edit]

A British Rail Class 66, which would be considered by American rail enthusiasts as a "boxcab". This design dominates much of Europe and a smaller part of Asia.

Most British diesel and electric locomotives are boxcabs but the term "boxcab" is not used in Britain. Instead, locomotives are referred to by their class numbers, e.g. British Rail Class 47 and British Rail Class 92. British diesel and electric locomotives are nearly always double-ended (i.e. there is a cab at each end). Other double cab designs, where the cab is wider than a narrow engine compartment, include the British Rail Class 58 and British Rail Class 70, however these do not classify as boxcabs.


In post-Soviet Eastern Europe, diesel locomotives with a boxcab configuration. A notable example is the TE10.

Several locomotives of this configuration can be found in Asia although these terms are not used. In China, there are many diesel locomotives that use this classification such as the DF8, ND2 and the NJ2. In Thailand, almost every diesel locomotive classify as a "boxcab", with the exception of the Hitachi 8FA-36C. An example of this configuration used by the State Railway of Thailand would be GE UM12C and Alsthom AD42C. The PNR 2500 Class of the Philippine National Railways may also be considered as one, although it has a stand with railings placed in front of it.

See also[edit]