General Motors EMD

Commonwealth Railways GM1 Class (1951)

Built in 1951 for Commonwealth Railways (CR) by Clyde Engineering under license from General Motors, the eleven members of the GM1 class were ordered primarily to dieselise operations, following on from overseas examples. The GM1 Class were based on the US EMD F7 model, with a number of alterations to ensure that they fitted the local loading gauge and axle load restrictions. Part of the design for the first eleven locomotives was to have an unpowered centre bogie – making the wheel arrangement A1A-A1A. All eleven members of the class were delivered by July 1952, displacing most mainline steam on the Commonwealth Railway network.

Presently, only GM10 survives in active commercial service, having the distinction of being the oldest working commercial diesel locomotive in Australia. GM1 and GM2 are both preserved, while GM3 is stored at the Downer Rail workshop at Kelso.

GM1 Class Photo Gallery.

Victorian Railways B Class (1952)

The B Class was a variant on the original GM class design for the Victorian Railways (VR). When tendering for the locomotives construction, VR specified a double-ended design to eliminate the need to turn locos at the end of a run. This led to Clyde Engineering to modify the design of the GM1 class with a cab at either end, with a Co-Co wheel arrangement – the first example of this particular wheel arrangement in the country.

As with the GM1 class before them, the B Class quickly displaced steam from the premier express trains within Victoria, including the Sprit of Progress. They would remain in active service long past the introduction of more modern locomotives that followed them, and a  number continue on in commercial ownership today. Eleven locomotives would be rebuilt into the A Class in the 1980’s (see below).

CFCL Australia and Southern Shorthaul Railroad maintain a small collection of these aging locomotives, and they continue to be seen within NSW and Victoria on infrastructure trains and general freight duties. A number of members of the class have also made it into preservation.

B Class Photo Gallery.

Commonwealth Railways GM12 Class (1955)

As a follow on to the original eleven locomotives ordered by the CR for their system, a further thirty-six units GM Class were ordered to allow for network expansion, albeit in the now common Co-Co wheel arrangement. To assist with the heavy coal traffic at Leigh Creek, the final eleven members of the class were delivered with dynamic brakes. Rather than creating a new class designation, these locomotives were delivered to follow on from the GM1 Class. To help distinguish between the two classes, Australian National (what CR was known as prior to being integrated into National Rail) distinguished these units as “S Class” (six motor), compared to the GM1 Class, known as the “F Class” (four motor).

In the post-privatisation world, a number of these veteran units survive in commercial operation today. GM’s 22 and 27 are owned and operated in NSW/Victoria by Southern Shorthaul Rail, having been purchased from CFCLA . The surviving units in their “home state” of South Australia have not enjoyed the same success in recent years, with many being stored out of use by owner Genesee & Wyoming (now OneRail as of 2020) .

GM12 Class Photo Gallery.

Victorian Railways T Class (1955)

As the B Class before them were designed to push out mainline steam, the T Class were ordered with the intention of replacing steam on the Victorian branch lines. The T Class fleet would be ordered and delivered in three separate series. The first twenty seven locomotives were constructed by Clyde Engineering  in the form of a Bo-Bo style hood locomotive. The initial disadvantage to the class (when compared to the B Class that precluded them) was that the locomotives needed to be turned. This would quickly be rectified by the addition of a second control stand, to allow the locomotives to run in either direction.

A further ten locomotives were delivered from June 1959, with a modification to the design – the cab roof was now raised above the hood line, rather than flush with it. This led to the original twenty seven units being referred to as “flat top T Class”. Given the success and reliability of the class, VR ordered a further fifty one units, this time with a lowered short-end hood. This allowed the locomotives to be built with only one control stand, with the locomotive designed for long end leading (the extra visibility allowed by the short hood would allow the unit to operate in both directions with only the single control stand).

T399-T412 (and the H Class after them) would be delivered with the more modern EMD 645E engines.

The final five locomotives (T413-T417) were built with extra ballasting for the shunting of hump yards (leading to their final designation as “H Class”, see below).

In addition to VR, the Australian Portland Cement Company had purchased a standard gauge version of the “flat top” model fitted with dynamic brakes, numbered D1. When D1 was rendered surplus by the removal of the private railway, VR purchased the unit and renumbered it T413.

The class have endured a number of rebuilds in their lives, with thirteen “flat top” units rebuilt as the P Class in 1984/5 (see below), and a further six were purchased by Australian National in 1993, reclassified as the “CK Class”.

T345 is the only original series locomotive in commercial service, used by SCT as a shunter, while one second series T Class survives in Southern Shorthaul Railroad ownership. The surviving members of the series three T Class units are split between standard and broad gauge operations, although their numbers continue to dwindle.

T Class Photo Gallery.

Victorian Railways – S Class (1957)

The eighteen members of the S Class were ordered in two batches by the VR from Clyde Engineering for express passenger and freight workings, with the final eight units ordered specifically to work the North-East standard gauge line. A large portion of the class survives today in commercial operation, with some members of the class owned by preservation organisations and leased to commercial operators to help support other heritage activities.

Despite enjoying a relative “Indian Summer” in private ownership, the S Class numbers have continued to slowly declined, with a handful providing front line horsepower for SSR on their broad gauge trains. Thankfully a number of former commercially owned members of the class have been made available for preservation rather than scrap.

S Class Photo Gallery.

1203 at Cummins

Western Australian Government Railways – A Class (1960)

A total of 14 A Class were built by Clyde Engineering for the WAGR from 1960 to 1965, with the final two (A1513 and A1514) being financed by Western Mining Co for the haulage of iron ore to Geraldton. These were the only two delivered with dynamic brakes.

A1502-A1510 would be sold to New Zealand operator Tranz Rail in 1998, ostensibly for overhaul and rebuild for use on the Tasmanian rail network (which had been purchased by Tranz Rail following the sale of Australian National). This would later be abandoned, with half the units scrapped and the remainder sold to South Africa in 2004. A1512 would find itself sold to Ferrocarril de Antofagasta a Bolivia (FCAB) in Chile along with a number of AA and AB Classes. A1501 would be allocated to the ARHS Museum in Bassendean for preservation.

 A1511, A1513 and A1514 would pass into the hands of ARG, renumbered as the 1200 Class. A1202 (A1511) would eventually be sold to South Africa by Aurizon along with other redundant narrow gauge motive power in 2015, whilst A1513 and A1514 (now known as 1203 and 1204) spent the twilight of their careers hauling grain trains to Port Lincoln in SA. With the suspension of grain haulage in 2019, the two were stored at Port Lincoln workshops as they are too heavy to operate on the line from Thevenard to Kevin.

A Class Photo Gallery.

New South Wales Government Railways – 49 Class (1960)

The 49 Class were ordered by the New South Wales Government Railways to dieselise the Parkes to Broken Hill Line in the states far west. Delivered in three batches, they were very similar to the Victorian T Class, although the 49 Class were built with a Co-Co wheel arrangement compared to the T Class’ Bo-Bo (for better weight distribution on the lightly laid western branch lines). A total of eighteen entered service with a handful still surviving in commercial operation today.

49 Class Photo Gallery.

Victorian Railways – Y Class (1963)

A total of seventy five Y Class were ordered by the Victorian Railways from Clyde Engineering, delivered in three batches from 1963 of twenty five locos each. Obtained to dieselise shunting operations, the reliability of these locos soon saw them working all kinds of trains, from branch line freight to commuter passenger services. A small number of stalwarts continue in their shunting role into 2020.

Y Class Photo Gallery.

West Australian Government Railways – J Class (1966)

When the Western Australian Government Railways required five shunting units for the standard gauge, they purchased a very similar model to the VR in the form of five J Class. Only the class leader has been scrapped, with two units owned by SCT (formerly owned by CFCLA and painted for SSR lease work) based at Goobang Junction. The other two surviving units are owned by OneRail and are based in Alice Springs (former Freightlink shunters).

J Class Photo Gallery (coming soon).

New South Wales Government Railways – 421 Class (1966)

When Clyde Engineering offered their tender for ten mainline locomotives to the NSWGR, they offered an improved version of the 42 Class, with  an additional cab at the number two end of the locomotive.

During the 1990’s, the surviving members of the 421 Class passed into private ownership with the newly formed Northern Rivers Railroad, at Casino. In 2002, NRR became Interail, the NSW operating arm of QRNational, which saw the 421 Class involved in interstate freight as well as coal and infrastructure workings.

Aurizon (formerly QRNational) would eventually move away from use of older locomotives, allowing 42103 and 42105 to be sold into private ownership. As of 2020, 42101 and 42103 are both preserved and operational, nominally available for heritage working across NSW and Victoria.

421 Class Photo Gallery.

Victorian Railways – X Class (1966)

The Victorian Railways ordered six mainline locomotives from Clyde Engineering to cope with increased traffic levels on both the broad and standard gauge. This was followed by two further orders for more members of the class, with the second and third series built with more modern engines, increasing their power.

A number of X Class locomotives were rebuilt by Freight Australia as the XR Class in 2002, including four “first series” and two “second series” X Class (see below). With the exceptions of X31 (owned by Seymour Rail Heritage Centre for lease service), the rest of the first series were converted to XR Class or scrapped. A number of second and third series X Class have also been scrapped by owners Pacific National, leading to uncertainty of the future of the class in commercial operation.

X Class Photo Gallery.

West Australian Government Railways – L Class (1967)

As the GM1 Class was based on the US EMD F7 model, so too was the L Class based on the SD40, adapted for Australian conditions. When introduced, the L Class had the distinction of being the largest and most powerful units on any government operated railway in the country. Two additional L Class were financed by a private company (The Western Mining Co) for use on nickel traffic, while another “L Class” was sourced by Westrail when R1002 (Lw276, now LZ3120) was rendered surplus by Comalco with the purchase of more modern motive power. The final “L Class” is R1001, now renumbered as L277 by Australian Locolease, also an ex-Comalco/Rio Tinto unit. The ex Comalco units are not true L Class, being significantly heavier than the original WAGR units, and missing dynamic braking.

The majority of the surviving L Class locomotives are in storage by owners Aurizon, with Pacific National having scrapped their three ex-ATN units in 2015. L277, although not a “true” L Class as such, has been purchased by SSR with intent to use as a bank engine on heavy grain traffic in NSW and Victoria.

L Class Photo Gallery.

Comalco GT26C (L277) Photo Gallery.

Victorian Railways – H Class (1969)

Originally numbered T413-T417, the five members of the H Class carry an additional ten tonnes of ballasting to enable them to shunt hump yards in Melbourne. Upgrades to the Victorian rail network over the years have enabled them to move beyond their original duties, hauling various freight trains around the state. All five units passed into Pacific National ownership as part of the takeover of Freight Australia, with only H1 operational at the start of 2012.

Three of the H Class (along with members of the T, P and Y Classes) were sold by Pacific National to Ettamogah Rail Hub for eventual service on regional container traffic.

H Class Photo Gallery (coming soon).

New South Wales Government Railways – 422 Class (1969)

A total of twenty 422 Class units were built by Clyde Engineering, quickly becoming known for their reliability and popularity with crews. The 422 Class were originally obtained for running on the Main South, on the premier express trains such as The Intercapital Daylight, The Southern Aurora and The Spirit of Progress. Despite the delivery of more modern units, they retained their prestigious positions until the trains themselves were replaced by the XPT. Even after their primary duties had fallen by the wayside, the class were used on freight duties with Freightcorp and National Rail Corporation, with a couple of units used for the locomotive hauled CountryLink Broken Hill and Griffith passenger services (until the delivery of Xplorer railcars replaced these trains too).

42220 (now FL220 with Watco) had the distinction of being rebuilt by Clyde in 1980 as a trial of “Super Series” technology – an electronic method of controlling wheelslip later used on the 81 Class.

Despite enjoying a very successful career in private ownership (with all twenty being used post-government service), their numbers have slowly declined as the 21st Century has unfolded. The surviving members of the class are split between OneRail (five), Aurizon (six), Watco (two) and SSR (one), with less than half that number seeing regular use. None have been secured for preservation yet.

422 Class Photo Gallery.

Two Years In The Making

Commonwealth Railways – NJ Class (1971)

The six units of the NJ Class were supplied to CR by Clyde Engineering in Sydney, numbering NJ1 to NJ6 and were destined for use on the narrow gauge (1067mm) Central Australia Railway (Maree – Alice Springs). When the new standard gauge line to Alice Springs opened in 1980, this rendered the original line redundant and new owners Australian National (AN) transferred the six NJ Class to the isolated Port Lincoln division to free up 830 Class Alcos for transfer to AN operations in Tasmania.

When the former AN operation passed into the hands of Australian Railroad Group  in 1997, the class were renumbered into the 1600 series, with two being used in WA for a short period before the break up of ARG separated the class between new owners QRNational and Genesee & Wyoming Australia. The two QRNational (now Aurizon) units were exported to South Africa in 2015, whilst one of the G&WA units (NJ4/1604) was damaged in a shunting accident in April 2013 at Cummins. It was beyond repair and was finally scrapped in 2019 when grain trains ceased running to Port Lincoln.

The surviving three members of the class currently haul gypsum traffic between Thevenard (Ceduna) and Kevin in the last operational section of the Port Lincoln division for new owners OneRail.

NJ/1600 Class Gallery.

Victorian Railways – C Class (1977)

The ten members of the C Class were ordered by the Victorian Railways for heavy freight work on the Melbourne to Albury/Sydney and Melbourne to Serviceton (and later, Adelaide) corridors. The C Class were based on the design of the WAGR L Class before them, with their external appearance bearing striking similarity to the third series X Class design.

The C Class passed to National Rail in 1995, and were put into storage after the delivery of the NR Class. National Rail would later sell the class (except C501) to Allco Rail for use with Silverton. C501 was restored to original VR livery by the Seymour Rail Heritage Centre, and is leased to freight operators such as PN and El Zorro. The remainder of the class were reactivated and overhauled by 2010 in a joint venture between Allco Rail and CFCLA. When Allco Rail went into liquidation, ownership of C502, C503 and C508 passed to CFCLA outright, while the remaining units passed to Coote Industrial (and now Engenco) for lease service. The Engenco fleet would then be sold to SSR where they continue to enjoy a major role in that operators haulage task, whilst the CF fleet sees very little use outside of sporadic hire, with C503 more or less stripped back to a shell to keep the other two running.

C Class Photo Gallery.

NSW State Rail Authority – 81 Class (1982)

Given the success with the Super Series technology on 42220 before them, the State Rail Authority specified this technology be included in their order for eighty new locomotives from Clyde Engineering for heavy Hunter Valley coal haulage. Built in Kelso from 1984-6, a further four units were built in 1991 bringing the total class size to 84.

The 81 Class were eventually pushed from Hunter Valley coal work by the 82 and 90 class locomotives after them, and could be found on almost anything – from interstate freight with National Rail to regional fuel, grain and container trains. Pacific National also have a number of 81 class allocated to various yards around the country for heavy shunting duties, and a couple of units are always located at Port Kembla for BHP coal haulage.

8147 is the only member of the class to have been scrapped, following a level crossing accident near on the Stockinbingal to Parkes cross country line in 2007. As the bulk of the 82 Class finds themselves displaced from coal operation, they will continue to move to push 81 Class locomotives out of use and into storage into the 21st Century.

81 Class Photo Gallery.

V/Line – A Class (1984)

A plan to rebuild the 1952 vintage B Class fleet with the EMD 645E3B turbocharged two-strokeV12 engines by V/Line for passenger working was stopped after only eleven units (with V/Line instead ordering twenty five new N Class locomotives instead, see below). With the exception of B60 and B85, all of the “new” A Class locomotives retained their original numbering.

When V/Line was separated into freight and passenger divisions (with V/Line Freight eventually becoming Freight Victoria and then Freight Australia), the A Class fleet was split accordingly, with a number of units passing into Pacific National ownership. As such, only four (A60, 62, 66 and 70) remained in their originally intended duties.

Pacific National have since withdrawn and scrapped all of their A Class except for A78 (which remains in storage), whilst the V/Line fleet has been withdrawn and made available for preservation groups (excepting A66, which is in storage as a spare locomotive at Bendigo).

A Class Photo Gallery.

V/Line – P Class (1984)

The thirteen members of the P Class were rebuilt from series one “flat top” T Class units in 1984/5 to provide additional motive power for passenger trains. Unlike the A Class, the P Class are fitted with head end power units (to remove the need for separate underfloor generators or specialised power vans to be included in their consists). In addition to the inclusion of HEP units, the P Class gained a complete cab rebuild in a similar style to the series three T Class, and new engines – the EMD 645E3B two-stroke V8.

As with the A Class, the P Class were split between Freight Australia and V/Line, with the FA units passing on to Pacific National.  Five of the V/Line fleet would pass into SSR ownership in 2019, whilst PN have sold a number of units to Ettamogah Rail Hub. V/Line retains three units for shunting and use on charter trains.

P Class Photo Gallery.

Australian National – BL Class (1984)

Built for Australian National in Rosewater (SA) following the success of the NSW 81 Class, the BL Class were purchased for interstate freight on both broad and standard gauge lines. The entire class passed first to National Rail and later Pacific National, and continued to be used on interstate intermodal and steel traffic, as well as The Overland. The class continues to see service across the eastern seaboard on a variety of standard and broad gauge traffic.

BL Class Photo Gallery.

V/Line – G Class (1984)

The first series G Class locomotives were based on the BL Class ordered by Australian National and entered service in 1984/5. Initial success with these units led to three further orders being placed with a total of 33 units being built. When the units were ordered, they were initially destined for general freight and bulk grain traffic, although a number of units were also used on express passenger workings between Melbourne and Sydney.

When V/Line was divided into freight and passenger divisions, the G Class all passed to Freight Victoria/Freight Australia, before passing to Pacific National as part of the Freight Australia sale. As part of the conditions of the sale to Pacific National, two locomotives passed to CRT (now owned by QRNational), while nine other locomotives were sold to SCT as part of a “loco starter pack” specified by the ACCC for a third East/West operator.

The Pacific National G Class units are spread across both the standard and broad gauge networks, and are used on all kinds of traffic in NSW and Victoria, including grain, coal, cement, minerals, quarry and container freight. QRNational use their two G Class on interstate container working to supplement the LDP and 6000 Classes, while SCT sold their nine locomotives upon accepting the SCT Class (see below). The SCT owned G Class then passed to CFCLA (three units, one of which has since been sold to Watco), SSR (two units) and AWB/Grainflow (four units, now split between Qube Logistics and OneRail).

When Aurizon (formerly QRNational) wound up their intermodal traffic in the twilight months of 2017, their two G Class passed to Linx Cargocare for use between Port Botany and Enfield.

G Class Photo Gallery.

V/Line – N Class (1985)

As the G Class were ordered to modernise the hauling of heavy freight in Victoria, the N Class were ordered to provide modern motive power for intercity passenger services in Victoria. Fitted with Head End Power units, the N Class are used primarily on long distance passenger services to regional Victoria, to destinations including Albury, Shepparton, Swan Hill, Geelong, Warrnambool and Bairnsdale.

Despite the ever expanding fleet of V/locity railcars replacing N Class locomotives on shorter turns of duty (including destinations as far flung as Echuca, Ararat and Maryborough), the continuing expansion of regional passenger services in Victoria will ensure that the N Class need not be replaced in the near future.

Three of the class were regauged to standard gauge for Albury passenger service in 2010, and the Victorian Government is currently painting all units into a new PTV scheme in line with the rest of the state’s public transport fleet.

N Class Photo Gallery.

Australian National – DL Class (1988)

Fifteen DL Class locomotives were built for AN at Kelso by Clyde Engineering, using the new EMD 710G3 turbocharged two-stroke V12 engines. The class passed into National Rail ownership, which saw them used back to back on stone trains on the Illawarra Line, before passing into Pacific National ownership in 2004. Aside from DL36 (stored, Port Augusta) and DL37 (scrapped), the class remains in Pacific National service today, operating on a variety of different services including the Griffith – Melbourne freight, coal traffic to Inner Harbour, interstate intermodal and steel traffic and even as an additional unit on The Indian Pacific (when an additional unit is required). A number of DL Class were also used on the Patrick PortLink trains to Western NSW to replace leased motive power from CFCLA, until the closure of Seatons in Sandown in 2010.

Despite attempting a number of comebacks on intermodal and bulk traffic, the DL Class continue to see declining use, with the majority of the fleet in storage at any one time.

DL Class Photo Gallery.

Goldsworthy Mining Limited – GML10 (1990)

A one-off build of the JT42C model by Clyde Engineering for Goldsworthy Mining Ltd, GML10 (from outside appearances) looks very similar to the V/Line N Class of 1985, however the internals are far more similar to the DL Class built two years prior. Built without dynamic brake, the unit was sold from BHP Iron Ore (formed when GML merged with Mt Newman Mining in 1991) to Comalco (now Rio Tinto) for use on their private bauxite railway in far northern Queensland. Renumbered R1004, the unit was then sold to Australian Locolease in 2010. Australian Locolease shipped the locomotive, along with fellow Comalco unit R1001 to Newcastle. R1004 was then onsold to Qube Logistics before being moved to CFCLA’s Goulburn Workshops in 2011 for re-activation. Renumbered back to GML10, the unit now sees sporadic use with Qube Logistics.

GML10 Photo Gallery.

AN8 at Picton

Australian National – AN Class (1992)

Arguably the start of a trend for interstate companies to name their flagship loco class after the company, AN ordered the eleven members of the AN Class from Clyde Engineering in 1991. The class would quickly pass to National Rail and Pacific National service, and have all now been repainted into the Pacific National corporate colour scheme (with the exception of AN3, which was painted in the livery of GSR’s “The Ghan” luxury rail train). Despite being fairly modern horsepower, the class was almost always relegated to trailing unit status.

Despite being relegated to trailing unit status in intermodal operations, the class did enjoy a short renaissance as front-line motive power with the bulk division of PN from 2011 being used on the Tarago garbage train and the Blayney ore train before intermodal demands saw them return to their former duties. They can and do lead trains in 2020, although typically only because the forward-facing NR Class in the consist has failed.

AN Class Photo Gallery.

Australian National – CLF & CLP Classes (1993)

Originally delivered as the CL Class to Commonwealth Railways in 1970, the seventeen members of the class were the last locomotives in the world to be built with the distinctive EMD “bulldog” nose. Australian National started a rebuild program in 1992 for the entire class in partnership with Morrison Knudsen Australia into the CLF and CLP classes. The CLF class were geared for freight operations, while the CLP Class when rebuilt had a Head End Power (HEP) unit included to facilitate the running of trains such as The Ghan, The Indian Pacific and The Overland without the need for power vans (which themselves had a high failure rate in the harsh conditions of the Australian desert).

When Australian National lost their interstate traffic to the newly formed National Rail Corporation in 1994, part of the contract for the rebuild ensured that the locomotives could only be used on Australian National trains, leading to their eventual sale from AN/MKA ownership along with the rest of AN’s assets to the Australian Railroad Group in 1997. When ARG broke up into G&WA and QRNational, the classes were again split up, with QRNational gaining five CLF and five CLP class locomotives, and G&WA retaining the remaining members of the class. The G&WA fleet is primarily used on grain and general freight in South Australia and also on the line to Darwin, while the QRNational fleet was focused entirely on interstate intermodal freight. With the exception of CLP11 and CLP13, the entire class is painted in the G&W orange/black livery (although those that were QRNational ownership have no logos).

As the CLP Class is now exclusively used on freight operations, the HEP units are no longer required, and in some cases have been removed entirely.

Despite a large portion of the class being stored out of use, there is some good news for fans of the distinctive Streamliner locomotives. CLP10 was secured for preservation following an extensive crowdfunding campaign for restoration to CL17. Two CLF and two CLP class were purchased by SSR and reactivated for mainline service in 2020.

CLF/P Photo Gallery.

ALF21 Approaching Dudley Park

Australian National/Morrison Knudsen Australia – ALF Class (1994)

Originally the eight members of the AL Class were built as double-cab units for operation on the Australian National Railways network, although all were later rebuilt in 1993 by Morrison Knudsen Australia as single-ended units (the rear cab was simply blanked off, and is still fairly obvious when looking at the locomotive in profile).

When ARG was broken up, seven would remain in South Australia with new owners G&WA, although one was transferred to WA for new owners QRNational (renumbered as ALZ3208, formerly ALF25). Whilst the balance of the class continue to see use in SA, the orphan ALZ was set aside and later scrapped.

ALF Class Gallery.

NSW SRA/Ready Power – 82 Class (1994)

The 58 members of the 82 Class were built by Clyde Engineering for FreightRail/FreightCorp as part of a “Ready Power” agreement wherein the locomotives were owned by a private consortium and leased back to FreightCorp on a dollars per kilometres agreement. Ostensibly, out of the total class of 58, 55 locomotives were to be available for service at any given time, with the other three locomotives surplus (to allow locomotives to be rotated through the workshops for maintenance, inspections and overhaul).

Initial deliveries saw the locomotives deployed on Hunter Valley coal work alongside the 90 Class (see below), although later members of the class were used for grain and interstate intermodal freight, first with FreightCorp and later as part of the formers commitment to National Rail.

When the NR Class eventually displaced these units from interstate container working, the class settled into coal and grain working. By the time FreightCorp was sold to Pacific National, the class were owned by FreightCorp outright, and were soon devoted to Northern and Southern coal operations.

The need for heavier horsepower for coal haulage (in the form of the 92, 93, LDP and TT Classes) would slowly see the 82 Class pushed out of their traditional role as front-line coal horsepower leading them to slowly infiltrate the bulk and intermodal horsepower pools in 2020.

82 Class Photo Gallery.

NSW SRA/Ready Power – 90 Class (1994)

Like the 82 Class before them, the 31 members of the 90 Class were ordered as part of a Ready Power leading agreement. Unlike the 82 Class, the 90 Class were built by General Motors in Canada, and were designed specifically for heavy coal work in the lower Hunter Valley, a task that they continue to this day. When delivered, they were the heaviest locomotives in Australia (outside of the Pilbara), and as such are limited to the Hunter Valley coal network. If required to run outside this network for any reason, they are typically run with minimal fuel to keep the axle load down.

Like the 82 Class, the 90 Class were included in the sale to Pacific National, where they were joined by an additional four units built by Downer EDI Rail at Cardiff. These four newer units were deliveried in the Pacific National colour scheme, whereas repaints of the former Freightcorp units have been sporadic at best.

90 Class Photo Gallery.

Freight Australia – XR Class (2002)

Freight Australia sought to rebuild their series one X Class into 3000hp locomotives for standard and broad gauge traffic, and they succeeded with the XR Class, built “in house” at their South Dynon Workshops. With X31 set aside for eventual preservation, they set about rebuilding X32-X36 and series two unit X38 (with the planned rebuild of X36 into XR556 never occurring). Further to these six rebuilds, another three were built from new to the same specifications (as were three cab-less versions, becoming the XRB Class). Aside from a handful of workings into NSW and a brief period on export grain based out of Newcastle, the class largely remains working broad gauge freight in Victoria.

XR Class Photo Gallery.

Interail/QRNational 423 Class (2002)

As part of the QRNational takeover of Northern Rivers Railroad to form Interail, QRNational inherited a number of 49 Class locomotives purchased by Northern Rivers Railroad from the NSW State Rail Authority. Rather than reactivating these locomotives, QRNational instead used the standard gauge bogies as part of a rebuild program for a number of stored 1502 Class units (which were both younger and stronger than the 49 Class), which included the removal of the short hood and a new cab. The first two locomotives were delivered with the drivers controls on the right-hand side of the cab (as is standard in Queensland), while the other four units were delivered with their driving controls on the standard (left-hand) side.

The units were mostly used on push-pull coal trains from Duralie to Stratford on the North Coast Line and from Newstan to Vales Point Power Station on the Short North (the latter contract having finished in 2008). Freightliner (now OneRail) used a handful of 423 Class for a short period prior to the long-term lease of CF Class for their Wee Waa container train.

Aside from a pair of units sold to Saudi Arabia (42304 and 42305) in 2015, the class has been withdrawn and scrapped.

423 Class Photo Gallery.

NREC – RL Class (2005)

Morrison Knudsen Australia (MKA) started the RL Class project as a rebuild of the former NSWGR 442 Class locomotives into 3500hp EMD units. When MKA’s parent company in the US filed for bankruptcy shortly after the project started, it was shelved until the National Railway Equipment Company (NREC) acquired the MKA business and restarted construction, albeit using few (if any) former 442 Class parts. Interestingly, RL308 was never built, reportedly affected by a damaged frame during construction.

Initially the RL Class entered service under NREC ownership in partnership with CFCLA (indeed, some of the units wore the CFCLA scheme for a period of time) on hire to various operators including QRNational and Patrick PortLink. The class were initially dogged with reliability and noise pollution issues, and were initially banned from use in NSW.

Eventually the issues were fixed, and the locomotives passed into the ownership of Coote Industrial for use in their leasing company – Greentrains. As part of the sale of South Spur Rail Services to Qube Logistics, a number of RL Class were included in the sale (RL303, RL309 and RL310). RL301-307 wear the Coote Industrial livery, while RL309 and RL310 are painted in the Qube Logistics scheme.

Aside from the Qube-owned units, the remainder of the class would be sold to SSR in 2016 where the majority of the class were reactivated for use alongside the C Class also from Greentrains.

RL Class Photo Gallery.

LVRF/IRA – 14 Class(2006)

Originally built by NoHAB in Sweden for the Danish State Railways in the 1970’s, sixteen of the class were purchased by Lachlan Valley Rail Freight (now Independent Railways of Australia) and shipped to Australia for overhaul and modification to fit local conditions (such as the inclusion of back-lit number boards). The overhauls were done by Braemar at their Mittagong workshops, which is also where two of the units resided after being damaged when the ship they were on was caught in a storm – suffering bent frames as a result. These two damaged units (1441 and 1444) would later be stripped of parts and scrapped on site. The rest of the class have been painted in the corporate IRA silver colour scheme, they have been seen working to various locations around the state. A third unit (1438) suffered a bent frame in a shunting accident at Botany in late 2011, and was eventually scrapped at Braemar. A number of units are available for trip train working in the Sydney metropolitan region, although the class sees sporadic use outside of these tasks.

14 Class Photo Gallery.

CFCLA – VL Class (2007)

When CFCL Australia were looking to expand their fleet of mainline lease locomotives, they turned to Avteq for twelve new build locomotives similar to the Freight Australia XR Class (see above). Built with the same engine, and a similar external design, the VL Class is slightly heavier than it’s PN counterpart with a full width nose. The VL Class have seen service across Australia on various duties from Northern Territory ore trains to Trans-Australia intermodal traffic. Qube have also used the class on broad gauge traffic in Victoria.

VL Class Photo Gallery.

Specialised Container Transport – SCT Class (2007)

When SCT originally started operating in the 1990’s between Melbourne and Perth, it was with a hook-and-pull contract with Australian National. By 2000, Freight Australia had taken the contract for these operations, which then fell to Pacific National when the latter took over the former. As a condition of the sale of FA to Pacific National, a fleet of nine G Class locomotives were sold to SCT, which were overhauled and repainted into the SCT colour scheme, which were used on SCT trains until the delivery of the first SCT Class locomotive from Downer EDI Rail at Cardiff. The new GT46C-ACe would revolutionise SCT’s cross country operations, with AC traction and inline fuelling. Once the final SCT Class was delivered, SCT wasted no time leasing out and later selling their fleet of G Class to other operators (see above).

The SCT class see regular service between Brisbane, Melbourne, Parkes, Adelaide and Perth, constantly crisscrossing the country. SCT014 was damaged in an accident to the north of Adelaide in late 2011, although it has since been repaired and returned to service. The GT46C-ACe design would go on to be used by other companies looking to purchase new motive power (see below).

SSR Class can be found in the GT46C-ACe Photo Gallery.

Locomotive Demand Power – LDP Class (2008)

With the delivery of the SCT Class completed, Downer EDI Rail began construction of further GT46C-ACe units for the use of a new in-house leasing company named “Locomotive Demand Power”. With early initial success of the SCT Class revolutionising SCT’s operations, the leasing of the new LDP Class was hotly contested between QRNational and Pacific National, with the former signing a five year contract for the new units, with an option for a further five years. Although the first three members of the class initially entered service with “Locomotive Demand Power” decals in the EDI colour scheme of blue/white, the next six members of the class would be delivered in the (then) QRNational corporate colour scheme. LDP’s 001-003 would later have their Downer EDI logos removed and replaced with QRNational decals.

Upon entering service, the LDP Class were used to remove older EMD power from East Coast operations, typically operating in pairs on all QRNational services. Initially these locomotives were permitted to work in multiple with the older DC Control type locomotives, although RailCorp would later ban this in 2011, specifying that when the LDP Class were to be used on a train, the older DC units must be leading to prevent problems on the many grades in the RailCorp area. By 2012, this restriction had been lifted.

The LDP Class are also fitted with in-line fuelling, and as such are also used on QRNational East-West operations between Melbourne and Perth.

Further LDP Class locomotives are expected to be built by Downer Rail (as they are known today) for lease service. LDP010-014 were built, but later became the WH Class (see below).

LDP Class can be found in the GT46C-ACe Photo Gallery.

Pacific National – TT Class (2009)

During 2009, a number of trials were run on the infamous “Cowan Bank” to test the hauling power of the EDI GT46C-ACe models compared to the UGL/GE C44aci model (in the form of the 92 Class). Based on the results of the tests, PN’s next order would be six TT Class locomotives from Downer EDI. Based on the successful SCT/LDP Class design, the TT Class were fitted with additional weight to increase their hauling capacity for Hunter Valley coal traffic. They were designed that this extra weight could be removed should the locomotives be required for use on the larger interstate network. It is theorised that the “TT” designation originally stood for “Tonnage Transferrable”, referring to this feature, although it has never been confirmed.

The six TT Class entered service in lower Hunter Valley coal traffic in 2009, with a further six unweighted locomotives (numbered in the TT101-TT106 range) entering service in 2010. The additional six locomotives are unmodified from the standard GT46-ACe design, and carry no additional ballast. These locomotives also entered service on Hunter Valley coal traffic, although their lighter weight often sees them operating loaded coal trains over the Liverpool Ranges to the Gunnedah area, sometimes in partnership with the WH Class (see below). The TT Class are all fitted with the new ECP braking systems, which is standard for new hoppers built for coal service.

PN continued to order new TT Class locomotives to have an eventual fleet of 40, including purchasing unused LDP Class (LDP010-013) from Downer Rail as units 130-132. The class is split between coal and intermodal/steel traffic in 2020.

TT Class can be found in the GT46C-ACe photo gallery.

Whitehaven Coal – WH Class (2010)

To help mitigate the “two-horse race” that Hunter Valley coal haulage contracts had become, a number of coal companies began ordering their own locomotives and wagons to reduce the grip that PN and QRN have on the coal haulage market. To this end, Whitehaven ordered three GT46-ACe locomotives from Downer EDI (originally numbered as LDP Class), painted in a generic blue/white colour scheme with no company identification (to prevent the units being targeted and vandalised by green anti-coal protestors). Following initial trials, they were deployed on Pacific National coal trains to/from the Gunnedah Basin where Whitehaven own a number of coal mines. As with the TT Class (above), the WH Class are fitted with ECP braking controls.

WH Class can be found in the GT46C-ACe photo gallery.

Qube Logistics – 1100 Class (2011)

Qube Logistics owns P&O Trans Australia and South Spur Rail Services, as well as a handful of mainline locomotives. Given their extensive reliance on leased motive power, they turned to The National Railway Equipment Company to order a number of new locomotives and wagons for existing and future traffic. The first two locomotives were delivered in late 2011, 1101 and 1103, with the remaning five soon to follow. The class see service across NSW and Victoria on a variety of traffic including cement, grain and ore concentrates.

1100 Class Photo Gallery.

GWA009 at Port Pirie

Genesee & Wyoming Australia – GWA Class (2011)

A desire for new frontline motive power for new iron ore contracts in South Australia saw Genesee & Wyoming Australia (now OneRail) purchase ten GT46C-ACe units from Downer Rail in 2011. They continue to see use on a variety of grain, ore and intermodal traffic between Adelaide and Darwin.

GWA Class can be found in the GT46C-ACe gallery.

BRMs At Breeza

Consolidated Rail Leasing – BRM Class (2013)

A new loco leasing division of Southern Shorthaul Railroad (SSR) was formed in 2013 with the construction of two BRM Class locomotives at their Bendigo Workshops in Victoria. Originally planned to be a class of five, the project would prove to be too expensive to be viable and only the two units were completed. The two BRM Class were quickly introduced onto the locomotive roster in NSW for coal and grain traffic in a distinctive red, yellow and black scheme.

BRM Class Photo Gallery.

SSR101 at Goondah

Southern Shorthaul Railroad – SSR Class (2014)

Following the success of SSR in securing the Westons Milling contract in 2014, two unused LDP Class locomotives (LDP013 and 014) were purchased from Downer and renumbered as SSR101 and SSR102. These two locomotives continue to provide frontline power for the Westons contract, often supplemented by other members of the SSR fleet.

SSR Class can be found in the GT46C-ACe gallery.

Updated September, 2020: Added WAGR A Class, NJ Class, ALF Class, GWA Class, BRM Class and SSR Class.

One thought on “General Motors EMD

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s