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NS 3900 class

NS 3900

Brief history

The Dutch Railways were the first to plan for complete abandonment of steam traction at the soonest possible date. By the end of the 1920's development of alternative traction forms lagged behind expectations. Growing train weights necessitated a new generation of locomotives. The 3900 was one of the very last developments in steam on Dutch soil. 32 were built in two batches in 1929 (22) and 1930 (10).

For Dutch conditions it was in one word: huge. It was the largest design possible without having to add an extra trailing axle (which would have resulted in the first Dutch Pacific design). Delivering 1600 hp, this four cylinder single expansion locomotive was able to pull the heaviest trains at the time. Until WW II it played a major role in express travel. Although not really wanted by the locomotive department the marketing of NS seized the oppurtunity of having a modern and impressive locomotive available and its profile features any station poster campaigns on more than one occasion.




In 1949 no 3928 overran a speed restriction and spectacularly derailed in the station of Hilversum. The crew was injured, but miraculously not killed and one passenger sustained light injuries.

Their glory period was short. After the intial teething troubles they succesfully ran express trains form 1932 on to 1940. The war pushed them into obscurity. 24 loco's were missing after the war, two of them were never found again, the other 22 were all restored to operating condition. After a brief revival between 1947 and 1952 steam submitted to the huge influx of new motive power in the early fifties. The last 3900 was withdrawn in 1957. Unfortunately none of them escaped the torch cutter.