The British Rail Class 08 is a diesel-electric shunting locomotive. From 1953 to 1962, 996 locomotives were produced, making it the most numerous of all British locomotive classes. As the standard general-purpose diesel shunter on BR, almost any duty requiring shunting would involve a Class 08. The class became a familiar sight at many major stations and freight yards. However, since their introduction, the nature of rail traffic in Britain has changed considerably. Freight trains are now mostly fixed rakes of wagons and passenger trains are now mostly electric or diesel multiple units, neither requiring the attention of a shunting locomotive. Consequently, a large proportion of the class has been withdrawn from mainline use and stored, scrapped, exported or sold to industrial or heritage/tourist railways. As of 2011, around 100 locomotives remain working on industrial sidings and on the main British network. On heritage railways, they have become common, appearing on many of the preserved standard-gauge lines in Britain, with over 60 preserved.
The class 09, although similar to the existing Class 08, were introduced 1959-62, around 26 locomotives were produced (as part of the class 08 fleet) and were re-geared to give a maximum top speed of 27.5 mph (44 km/h) at the expense of a lower tractive effort. They originally operated in the Southern Region of British Railways, though following privatisation of British Rail in 1994 they have been distributed much further afield.