A Surprising Return – The NSW 86 Class

Electrifying Event

In October 2018, Sydney Electric Train Society locomotive 8606 surprised enthusiasts by running a railset from Clyde to North Sydney. Crewed by Pacific National as part of their Sydney Trains maintenance contract, this was the first electric traction on freight traffic since 2004. Before we can look too far towards the future however, perhaps it’s important to first look at a brief history of electric traction within NSW.

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Horsepower Roundup – The 47 Class

4701 at Sydenham
4701 at Sydenham.

Editors note: This article originally appeared on Trackside in 2012. It is presented here in mostly original form although with more recent updates to the operational 47 Class included as of September 2020.

The 47 Class – Problem Children

The final bastion of steam in NSW would be the Hunter Valley coalfields. With increasing tonnages of coal to be transported, the NSWGR required a class of branchline locomotives capable of treading lightly on some of the more unfriendly colliery branch lines in the region. While modern coal trains are hauled by the heaviest power in the state, this was not always the case, with lightly laid track and short trains calling for a different approach.

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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 Like most of the NSW Alco fleet, they saw their final years out at Broadmeadow before being superseded by the newer 82 and 90 Class, with the exception of 4525 which was written off in an accident at Robertson in May 1972.

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CM3301 “Red Handed” Delivered

CFCL Australia have accepted the first delivery of their new “CM Class” locomotives from MotivePower Inc. The first of the class, CM3301 “Red Handed” was delivered by FL220 to Goulburn on July 27th, 2013, having been unloaded at Port Kembla the day before. Running as train number 9271, FL220 hauled a covered CM3301 and wagon NOGF 5251. The train departed Port Kembla Inner Harbour at 1700, bound for Goulburn via Unanderra and Moss Vale. CM3301 is not the first of CFCLAs locomotives to carry the name “Red Handed”, with this name previously being carried by RL301.

This was not the first interesting train to traverse that line today, with 3642 having hauled a tour train to Robertson earlier in the day. The newest, and one of the oldest locomotives in the state passing through the same town within a matter of hours? Couldn’t plan that better if you tried!

Click on any image below to view a larger size (link opens in a new window).




With thanks to Richard Whitford for his assistance.

The 44 Class – The Original Stalwart

4471 departing Yennora with a Qube Logistics/P&O Trans Australia container trip train to Port Botany.

With the news that Qube Logistics have set aside a number of their 44 Class fleet in Goulburn, it seemed as good a time as any to reflect on the diverse life that the surviving units have had since they were withdrawn from government service.

By 1956, The New South Wales Government Railways (NSWGR) had made their first tentative steps into dieselisation, having introduced no less than five different classes, each ranging from six to twenty class members. Each class had come from a different manufacturer, and featured different braking systems and non-interchangeable spare parts.

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“The Jumbos” – The NSWGR 442 Class

44208 powering through Mascot

442 Class – A Story of Survivors

The 442 Class, or “Jumbos” as they are often known, are an excellent example of how former Government owned locomotives that were withdrawn and set aside have found a new lease of life in the brave new world of private rail operators. Many of the surviving class members have seen their fair share of operators come and go, and yet they have survived them all, and the majority will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Introduction & Government Service

The 40-strong 442 Class was introduced as a replacement for the NSW Government Railways fleet of 40 Class locomotives. The 40 Class had originally entered service in 1951, an almost off the shelf American Locomotive Co. (ALCo) design, modified for NSW conditions and loading gauge. By the late 1960s, the 40 Class were beginning to become unreliable and a rebuild of the class to keep them in service would be uneconomical. The concept of trading-in older locomotives to offset the cost of new locomotives was proving to be a popular concept in the United States of America, leading to the New South Wales Government Railways (NSWGR) signing a tender with A. E. Goodwin Ltd to accept the 40 Class units as trade-ins on twenty new main line diesels. This concept would prove to be too ambitious, with only limited parts (traction motors, compressors, auxiliary generator, eddy current clutch and power take-off) being re-used. Whilst the initial order of twenty was being built, a further twenty were ordered to ensure the entire state could be dieselised, pushing out the last strongholds of steam in NSW.

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EMD Power

Sadly, a planned article on the closure of the Zig Zag Railway at Lithgow is not yet completed – instead, the Australian Motive Power page has been expanded to provide some background information on the various EMD locomotives still in commercial service in NSW. From the veteran GM1 class to the new GT46-ACe models being delivered by Downer EDI, there is something for every enthusiast. Once again, not all locomotive classes have been covered, as this page is intended to sit alongside my photo gallery on Flickr – no point covering locomotives if they have no photos to go with them!

As is common in this industry, things are often out of date as soon as they are “printed”, so expect a few minor tweaks to be made to the page in the coming days.

Another Friday Update

Once again, shift work has conspired to eat into the available time for writing new and “interesting” articles for this website, I instead offer an update to the Australian Motive Power page to include a section on General Electric motive power. As with ALCo before it, I have focused on locomotives that operate within NSW – if you notice any “gaps”, this is likely because I have not yet photographed the classes in question, and/or that they do not operate within NSW (and as a result, a field trip would be required to track them down). Hopefully there are no glaring omissions!