Commonwealth Railways GM1 Class (1951)
Built in 1951 for Commonwealth Railways 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 Database (on Railpage Australia).
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 Database (on Railpage Australia).
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 , while the remaining operating members of the class are employed on grain and infrastructure trains in South Australia with US-based operator Genesee & Wyoming Australia.
GM12 Class Database (on Railpage Australia).
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 with CFCL Australia, Pacific National and El Zorro.
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.
Two members of the class are owned by CFCL Australia, avaliable for lease service as required. PN maintains ownership of three members of the class. El Zorro, Southern Shorthaul Railroad and RailPower also own one unit each. Operations for the surviving S Class members range from regional grain trains, coal haulage, infrastructure trains and even bank engine duties in the Adelaide Hills!
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 thirteen still surviving today.
Southern Shorthaul recently purchased 4904, 4910 and 4917 from CFCL Australia, with all three units painted in their eye-catching yellow and black colour scheme. The Manildra Group maintain two 49 Class (4907 and 4913, now MM01 and MM02 respectively) as shunters at their Manildra and Gunnedah plants.
49 Class Database (on Railpage Australia).
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.
The surviving Y Class locomotives are mostly in storage, with a handful of units being maintained as shunters by Pacific National, V/Line, Downer Rail and Bluescope Steel. Two units are also in service with El Zorro.
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 Genesee and Wyoming Australia in South Australia (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. With QRNational having since obtained more modern traction, the operating members of the 421 class are now used mostly on trip train and shunting turns, although they are occasionally used as additional motive power when other locomotives are not available.
The class leader 42101 is preserved in private ownership, and is (at the time of writing) being restored to operational condition.
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), X53 and X54 (both owned by QRNational), the remainder of the class remains in service in NSW and Victoria with Pacific National, on both standard and broad gauge operations.
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.
Most of the L Class fleet is now owned by QRNational, with three units (former ATN-Access) owned by Pacific National, based in Parkes. QRNational maintains a fleet of three L Class in NSW for export grain operations, with the rest remaining in their home state of WA.
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.
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 CFCLA) 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.
In the era of privatisation, the majority of the class were snapped up by the (then) Australian Southern Railroad (later Australian Railroad Group). When ARG split up, the sixteen members of the class was split between QRNational and Genesee & Wyoming Australia. QRNational also owns 42202 and 42206 (obtained as part of their purchase of NRR), while 42203 and 42220 are owned by CFCL Australia (as HL203 and FL220 respectively). Two (42209 and 42211) have been plundered for spare parts, and are little more than shells, although to date, none of the class have (yet) been scrapped.
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.
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.
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) remain in their originally intended duties. They can typically be found hauling H-Set carriages on Bacchus Marsh peak-hour passenger services, with recent V/locity railcar deliveries pushing this class to the side. Pacific National use their A Class on general broad gauge traffic around Victoria as required.
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/Lin, with the FA units passing on to Pacific National. Seven of the eight V/Line units remain on broad gauge peak hour passenger services (typically in push-pull configuration on H-Set carriages) to Bacchus Marsh and Sunbury (with the latter services due to be phased out with the Sunbury Electrification Project), while the eighth unit (P13) was regauged to standard gauge to act as the V/Line standard gauge shunter for Albury passenger trains.
Those units owned by Pacific National are either in storage, or used on various broad gauge freight services around the state.
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 is split between Victoria and NSW, with the Victorian units used on Long Island steel traffic as well as export and domestic broad gauge grain. The NSW units typically see service on bulk freight such as ore, coal, cement and grain.
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), SSR (two units) and AWB/Grainflow (four units).
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 V/Line is rapidly repainting the entire fleet to their new corporate red/yellow scheme.
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. Recent trends indicate a possible future shift from coal service to grain and other bulk freight working – adding to their already interesting history to date.
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 regular use on P&O Trans Australia’s Melbourne to Horsham freight service.
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 is painted in the livery of GSR’s “The Ghan” luxury rail train). Until 2011, the class were relegated to the role of support units behind NR Class on interstate intermodal services (although AN3 is often used on “The Ghan” as a support unit). More recently, the class has been fitted with the new ICE radio system, and permitted to lead on the Clyde to Tarago garbage trains, where their additional power has reduced the drain on Pacific Nationals loco fleet accordingly (where once the train was hauled by three mainline locomotives, or two mainline locomotives and a branch line unit, it is now typically hauled by a pair of AN Class).
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 is 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 in 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.
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, to which they continue to this day.
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 are the only members of the class to be painted in the Pacific National colour scheme, the rest of the class retain their Freightrail blue.
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 standard and broad gauge freight in Victoria.
XR Class Photo Gallery (Coming Soon).
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). More recently, a number of members of the class have been seen on hire to Freightliner to replace GL class locomotives out for maintenence.
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.
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. RL301-307 wear the Coote Industrial livery, while RL309 and RL310 are painted in the Qube Logistics scheme.
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 will likely never re-enter service.
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 now see service across Australia on varying duties including Northern Territory ore trains to Trans-Australia intermodal traffic. Many different companies have hired VL Class, such as El Zorro, G&W Australia, P&O Trans Australia and QRNational.
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 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).
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. LDP010-012 were built, but later became the WH Class (see below).
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.
Pacific National ordered a further eight TT Class towards the end of 2010, with TT107-TT112 entering service in 2011. TT07 and TT08 are expected to be delivered in 2012.
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.
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. At the time of writing, it has not been confirmed just how many locomotives are to be delivered, with industry sources claiming that a number of narrow gauge units are on the way, and that the long term plan of Qube Logistics is to implement their own freight service between Cairns and Melbourne.