Horsepower Roundup – The 45 & 600 Classes

Obligatory Roster Shot
602 at Wellington Station in 2020.

The 45 Class – Early Life

The New South Wales Government Railways (NSWGR) ordered a total of 40 DL531 locomotives from A.E. Goodwin/Alco, Auburn NSW from 1962. Mechanically very similar to the DL500 “World Series” 44 Class that predated them, the 45 Class were of a hood design rather than a full carbody, with the goal of reducing turnaround time for maintenance.

The 45 Class debuted on express passenger working including the prestigious “Southern Aurora” train before eventually settling into Northern and Western division working. Like most of the NSW Alco fleet, they saw their final years out at Broadmeadow before being superseded by the newer 82 and 90 Class, with the exception of 4525 which was written off in an accident at Robertson in May 1972.

Towards the end of their working lives, six 45 Class were given overhauls, modified bogies and cab upgrades at Cardiff Workshops in 1989 to become the 451 Class, later renumbered as the 35 Class. This was primarily to ease complaints from the drivers union about poor cab conditions and rough riding, as the 45 Class were not used as lead units. The six members of the 35 Class spent their remaining years shunting and banking trains over the Liverpool Range at Ardglen before being set aside with their 45 Class sisters.

The majority of the class were sold at the State Rail Authority (SRA) auction at Cardiff in December 1994, although 4501, 4502, 4528 and 3532 were retained by the SRA for infrastructure trains, stored at Chullora. 4520 was designated as the official heritage unit, and was allocated to the Rail Transport Museum, Thirlmere. Of the units sold at this auction, the majority would go for scrap with a small handful secured by private interests and preservation groups.

4501 at Sydney Terminal
4501 at Sydney Terminal in 2010.

The 600 Class – Early Life

Originally two DL531 locomotives were obtained by the South Australian Railways (SAR) from A.E. Goodwin/Alco in 1965 following the success of the 45 Class for NSWGR. These locomotives were earmarked for use on construction trains on the new standard gauge line from Broken Hill (NSW) to Port Pirie. Once the line was opened, an additional four units were ordered and all six were immediately put to work hauling ore traffic between the mines at Broken Hill and the smelters at Port Pirie.

The six 600 Class would follow the rest of the SAR fleet into Australian National ownership in 1978 which saw their scope of operations expand including time spent working trains in NSW as part of a through-running deal enabling the sharing of motive power between states. An interesting “quirk” of AN was the renumbering of class leaders from their original numbers to the final number in the series, which saw class leader 600 renumbered to 607. This was due to the internal computer tracking program being unable to handle loco numbers below “1”.

In 1994, Morisson Knudsen Australia rebuilt four of the class as BU (Booster Unit) “slug” units to be used between ALF Class (also rebuilt by MKA from the AL Class). This experiment saw the engines removed and replaced by concrete ballast, the traction motors replaced by EMD motors in an A1A-A1A configuration, and EMD dynamic brake grids fitted. This experiment was a failure and all four were eventually scrapped by Australian Railroad Group in 2009.

4503 at Mascot
4503 at Mascot in 2010.

The Survivors

The four 45 Class retained by SRA for use on Rail Services Australia (RSA), maintenance trains would not see use on these workings, instead on-sold to private operator Great Northern Rail Services (a private operator in Victoria) before then passing on to Silverton Rail. Silverton reactivated 3532, although the other three were eventually sold to CFCL Australia.

4501 would be sold by CFCL Australia to Goodwin Alco Pty Ltd who restored the locomotive at the Large Erecting Shed at Eveleigh to operational condition painted in original Indan Red livery. The locomotive was hired to 3801ltd for use on passenger and works trains until 2017.

4502 and 4528 were sold by CFCL Australia to Lachlan Valley Railway (LVR). Currently stored at Broken Hill, LVR plans to retrieve the locomotives and restore at least one to operational condition in the future.

4503 was bought at the SRA Auction by Australian Traction Corporation Pty Ltd (Austrac) who secured a number of former Freightcorp diesels as well as a lease to the former Junee Roundhouse Workshops. When Austrac went into administration in 2000, 4503 would pass to Patrick PortLink (owned by Asciano) until they wound up their NSW operations in June 2010. 4503 was transferred to Pacific National (also owned by Asciano) where it remained an unlikely orphan on the locomotive roster until withdrawl in 2017. Despite an eleventh hour bid by various heritage interests to purchase and save 4503, they were too late and it was scrapped in June 2017.

3505 would fare little better than 4503, also bought by Austrac. Unlike 4503, it was selected for a full cab rebuild similar to 4537 (see below), although with a more complex design, similar to that being used on the larger C636R locomotives in the Pilbara region of WA. The rebuild was never completed, and the locomotive remains half-built at Junee, now owned by Junee Railway Workshops. The cab shell has since been removed and placed outside the museum side of the workshops for visitors to look at.

4514 was originally obtained by private interests from Simsmetal following the auction, although it was later sold to Patrick Portlink. It was eventually set aside and scrapped at Werris Creek in 2008.

4520 was transferred into the custody of the NSW Rail Transport Museum at Thirlmere where it was restored and repainted to operational condition. It continues to be a staple in the heritage roster, hauling trains all across the state.

4520 at Gunning
4520 at Gunning in 2013.

4521 was bought by Dorrigo Steam and Railway Museum and is stored at Dorrigo following a number of years storage at Kooragang Island in Newcastle.

3532 was reactivated by Silverton Rail as 45s1 in June 2002. The unit would then pass into Greentrains ownership in 2008 until the majority of Greentrains fleet was sold to Southern Shorthaul Railroad in 2016. 3532 was reactivated by Southern Shorthaul Railroad in August 2019 numbered as 4532.

4537 would also be modified by Austrac at their Junee workshops with a lowered short end hood for better crew visibility. The unit was then painted for lease to BHP for use on Port Kembla coal traffic, renumbered as 103. Following the dissolution of Austrac, 103 would pass to Patrick PortLink in 2001 for use on intermodal traffic in South Australia. Unlike the other two Asciano owned locomotives, 103 was successfully obtained for operational preservation at Tailem Bend (SA).

The three surviving 600 Class still in their original forms would be sold by ARG to South Spur Rail in 2005, eventually joining 3532/45s1 under Greentrains ownership in 2008, all the while still retaining a tattered AN paint scheme.

602 was overhauled and repainted into the corporate Greentrains scheme in 2012, with 603 to follow although this was later abandoned, meanwhile 607 (formerly 600) would be scrapped for parts by Greentrains in 2014.

The surviving two locomotives would join 45s1 with the sale of Greentrains assets to Southern Shorthaul in 2019, with 602 reactivated for service with SSR logos. 603 remains stored out of use at Cootamundra with no immediate return to service likely.

So out of an original fleet of 46 units across the two government operators, only 10 survive today, with only half of that number nominally available for service (including two in commercial operation). Still, when you think about it, it’s somewhat remarkable that these survivors soldier on in commercial service at all! If you’d told an enthusiast back in 1994 that two of these units would be operating in revenue service in 2020, they’d think you mad!

45 & 600 Class Photo Gallery on Flickr

4501 (Goodwin Alco Pty Ltd) Photo Gallery on Flickr

4520 (Transport Heritage NSW) Photo Gallery on Flickr

4501Goodwin Alco Pty LtdStored at Eveleigh (NSW), Indian Red.
4502Lachlan Valley RailwayStored at Broken Hill (NSW), SRA Candy.
3505 (4505)Junee Railway WorkshopsStored, dismantled at Junee Railway Workshops (NSW).
4520Transport Heritage NSWOperational, Indian Red.
4521DSR&M, DorrigoStored at Dorrigo (NSW), SRA Candy.
4528Lachlan Valley RailwayStored at Broken Hill (NSW), grey undercoat.
4532 (3532, 45s1)Southern Shorthaul RailroadOperational, yellow with SSR logos.
103 (4537)Private OwnershipOperational, Patricks Red.
602Southern Shorthaul RailroadOperational, Greentrains scheme with SSR logos.
603Southern Shorthaul RailroadStored at Cootamundra (NSW), AN Green/Yellow.
602 at Cootamundra
602 at Cootamundra in 2009.

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