In the 1980s, British Rail determined there was a requirement for a high-powered Type 5 diesel locomotive for use on its Trainload Freight sector. On 10 August 1987, the British Railways Board issued a competitive tender for response by 7 November, for a fleet of 100 locomotives. Of the six companies invited to tender, only three bid responses were received
Metro-Cammell offered a Metro-Cammell body with an option of traction packages, many untried, and could not offer performance guarantees as stipulated by the tender. General Electric Company offered a state-of-the-art Class 59, built in the UK, probably at Crewe Works, which had an existing partnership for construction of the Class 91 electric locos. Brush Traction offered a locomotive powered by either a Mirrlees or Ruston engine, and used separately excited (Sepex) traction control, as previously tested on the Class 58.
Of the three bidders, Brush was selected, and an order was placed for 100 locomotives in a deal worth around £120 million. Brush sub-contracted parts construction, with final construction at Brush's erecting shops at Loughborough. The bodyshells, shared with the Class 92 electric locomotives, were fabricated by Procor (UK) of Wakefield. The engine was a higher-powered development of the Mirrlees engine previously used in some Class 37/9s. The first locomotive was delivered in June 1989.
Both 60 006 and 60 033 were repainted in a distinctive British Steel light blue livery and renamed 'Scunthorpe Ironmaster' and ‘Tees Steel Express’ respectively to commemorate the close relationship between the operator (EWS) and the customer (British Steel).