Sign my

Modern steam

End of Steam

No steam locomotive ever built included all the available proven techniques to maximize its performance in service.
This fact, more than any other factor, is what lead to the downfall of world steam.

The end

Having said such wise words the end of steam was mainly a political and financial issue. To the latter can be said that the railways did not ceonvert traction because of a positive business case, so to save money, but as soon as sufficient money came available to cover the extra expenses, proving the point that steam was cheapar than diesel. In some rare cases countries even reverted to steam because of the lack of funds like Zimbabwe, once again proving that steam is the cheaper option. And that the change-over is primarily politically motivated is demonstrated by a very recent quote: "There is no sense of regret in the Chinese government, which is anxious to crush all memory of something as old-fashioned as steam just a few years before the 2008 Olympics reach Beijing."


But when did steam end exactly? Well in the Dutch mindset steam is something almost pre-historic because by now no one in the working class can remember it, the Netherlands was among the very first to abandon steam. As an answer to that question I made the table below. As a reference point I took mainline steam, a not entirely accurate description, but good enough.

Anybody knowing additional inforamtion is welcome to contribute (contact details at the footer of the page)

This table is only in its infancy and I will work on it when new information surfaces


Country Last steam locomotive built EoS Date last ride Last locomotive/train Remarks
Netherlands 1930 1957 07-01-1958 NS 3737

Geldermalsen-Utrecht to hand over the last steam locomotive to the National Railway Museum.

USA   1960     Indicating an exact end is difficult as there were so many operators, but genereally all main operators had end steam by 1960.There is also no official "last steam train". In fact Union Pacifica never retired nos 844 and 3985 and this pair can still be occasionally be seen on revenue earning service, so technically mainline steam never ended in the US.
Luxemburg   1964     No official end, in Dec 1961 22 steam locomotives remained which were kept as reserve until May 1964. They withdrawn in June 1964. So technically the last scheduled services ended in 1961.
Belgium   1966 22-12-1966 29.013  
United Kingdom 1959 1968      
Switzerland   1968 02-12-1968 SBB C5/6
No 2969
Quite incidentally it was to the day 50 year ago that mainline steam ended in Switzerland that I started this page!
Australia   1973   NSWGR
Steam ended in the different states on different dates. In Queensland it ended on 21 December 1969. I took the last main line steam on the entire Australian continent as a reference.
France   1974      
Österreich   1976 31-12-1976 52 3315 Mainline steam ended in 1976. Steam on the Erzbergbahn ended in the spring of 1978.
Germany (West) 1959 1977 26-10-1977 043 196-5

A last steam farewell special on 23 October 1977 by 042 113-4 and 043 196-5.

Last revenue earning services were performed by 043 315-1, 043 903-4 and 043 196-5 on 26 October 1977, the latter earning the distinction of being the last DB steam locomotive withdrawn from service that day. (Source)

Czechoslovakia   1980      
Germany (East)   1988 29-10-1988 50 3559-7  
South Africa   1992      
China 1999 2005   QJ