New Zealand DF class locomotive (1979)
|New Zealand DF / DFT class (General Motors)|
DFT 7295 enters Ashburton yard, 20 February 2013. Note the enlarged Drivers side windscreen.
|Builder||General Motors Diesel (GMD), Canada (builder)
Tranz Rail (rebuilder)
|Model||DF EMD GL22MC
DFT EMD GT22MC
|Build date||1979 - 1981
1992 - 1997 (rebuilt as DFT class)
|Gauge||3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm)|
|Length||16.7 metres (55 ft)|
|Weight on drivers||86 tonnes (85 long tons; 95 short tons)|
|Locomotive weight||86 tonnes (85 long tons; 95 short tons)|
|Prime mover||GM 12-645E (DF)
GM 12-645E3C (DFT)
|Engine RPM range||900 rpm|
|Aspiration||Roots-type supercharger (DF)
|Displacement||126.84 litres (7,740 cu in)|
|Traction motors||Six D29cc|
|Cylinder size||230 mm × 254 mm (9.1 in × 10.0 in)|
|Top speed||113 km/h (70 mph)|
|Power output||1,230 kW (1,650 hp) DF
1,800 kW (2,400 hp) DFT
|Tractive effort||198 kN (45,000 lbf)|
|Number in class||30|
|Number||1651 - 1670[n 1] (original DF)
6006 - 6317 (TMS DF)
7008 - 7348 (DFT)
|Locale||All of New Zealand|
|Disposition||17 DFTs and 11 DFBs in service
The New Zealand DF class locomotive of 1979 is a class of 30 Co-Co diesel-electric locomotives built by General Motors Diesel of Canada between 1979 and 1981. Between 1992 and 1997, all the locomotives were rebuilt as the DFT class, a turbocharged version of the DF.
The DFs were powered by an EMD 12-645 engine, the same prime mover chosen for the DC class, but were able to make greater use of that power by having six traction motors and Co-Co arrangement as opposed to the four traction motors and A1A-A1A wheel arrangement of the DCs. This gave the DF several advantages: a tractive effort of 198 kN (45,000 lbf) and a maximum speed of 113 km/h (70 mph), compared to the DCs 140 kN (31,000 lbf) and 90–100 km/h (56–62 mph). The most noticeable visual difference between the DF and the DC is that the DF is considerably longer with the headlight arrangement on the cabs differing: the DC has the lights arranged horizontally, while the DF has them arranged vertically. The DF is more often confused with the DX class, as both are of similar dimensions though the DX also has the horizontal headlight arrangement.
The first 20 members of the DF class arrived in New Zealand in 1979, and initially ten worked on the East Coast Main Trunk, Kinleith, Rotorua and Murupara Branches, making use of the recently opened Kaimai Tunnel; and ten worked freight trains on the Main North Line between Christchurch and Picton. At the time, they were the most powerful locomotives in the South Island, with a total power output of 1,230 kilowatts (1,650 hp).
The next ten DFs arrived in 1981 and were also sent to work in the Bay of Plenty, and some to supplement the South Island fleet, which by this time had also entered service on the Main South Line and Midland Line as far as Arthur's Pass.
In 1986 the DF fleet was reallocated, concentrating 22 of the class in the South Island, and reallocating the remaining eight North Island DFs from Hamilton to Wellington, for use between Wellington and Gisborne, on the Wairarapa Line and Palmerston North - Gisborne Line (PNGL).
In 1988, the fleet was again reallocated due to the opening of the NIMT electrification, with approximately 20 DFs based in Auckland for use in Northland, and between Auckland, Hamilton and the ECMT and its branches. The remaining units were based in the South Island. This removed the DFs from the lower North Island - Gisborne routes, and reduced the number in the South Island.
Rebuilding to DFT
The main downside to the DF was the lack of power output from the diesel engine. This hindered the DF when it came to hauling heavy freight trains out of multiple.
In 1992, DF 6260 was rebuilt with a new turbocharged diesel engine and some other minor alterations. The rebuilt DF was reclassified DFT (the T standing for turbocharged), and renumbered 7008.
After 18 months of trial, the decision was made to convert the remaining 29 DFs to DFTs, with the last unit converted in 1997. The turbocharged locos can now generate 1,800 kW (2,400 hp), and now comfortably fits between the DC class and the DX class in terms of power output.
The class remains predominantly employed on general freight duties on all routes nationwide, with the general exception of through trains on the NIMT and the Midland Line coal workings. The units operate both in multiple with the other mainline locomotive classes, or as single units, depending on availability and the level of motive power required. Although less common, the units see occasional use on the KiwiRail Scenic Journeys passenger services. Being such handy units this class sees far more inter-island transfers than the other classes.
Auckland Transport service
Three DFTs/DFBs are currently in service in Auckland hauling six car SA trains on the Auckland suburban network, leased by Auckland Transport. These trains are made up of ex-British Rail Mark 2 carriages, rebuilt for use on Auckland commuter trains. Most are currently in four or five car configurations with a DC class locomotive. The locomotives currently in service on 6 car SA sets are DFBs 7200 and 7348, and DFT 7104. These began service on 20 September 2010 with the introduction of a new timetable. DFB 7010 was also employed on Auckland service from this date, but was released back to KiwiRail in November 2012 leaving just the three units operating. Other DFTs have been assigned periodically to cover for when these units under go maintenance, with DFT 7051 and DFB 7186 most recently filling this role during the 2011 Rugby World Cup when extra six car trains were in use. The remaining locomotives in service with Auckland Transport (7104, 7200 and 7348) have been installed with Electronic Train Protection (ETP) equipment.
In common with NZR practice at the time the class was numbered with reference to the power output (1,650 hp), with the first 20 units numbered 1651 to 1670. With the introduction of the TMS system in 1980 these locomotives were renumbered in order with new four digit numbers starting with 6 in which the last number acted as a check number; DF 1651 became DF 6006 and DF 1670 becoming DF 6202. The second batch all received TMS numbers while under construction. They were then renumbered again when rebuilt to DFT standard in the 7xxx series, with these numbers allocated as they were rebuilt with no reference to their previous number.
Prior to the rebuilding to DFT standard, the locomotives received an upgrade in the late 1980s with the introduction of single-manning to improve visibility for the driver - this involved a large single front window replacing the original configuration that had two small windows instead. In the late 1990s the drivers side front window was enlarged to prevent eye and back problems for drivers focusing on the mainline ahead. The pillar separating the driver's window and the central window created a potentially dangerous blind spot and caused a distraction for drivers as their vision had to adjust to focus, or alternatively adopt unnatural sitting positions. Drivers started to notice left-eye fatigue and back issues after long shifts or extended periods driving the locomotives. The pillar was moved 100mm to the left with the top and bottom sills was raised and lowered at the same time to give drivers a better view of the track immediately in front and below. Fewer issues have been reported since.
The DF class were initially delivered in the International Orange "fruit salad" (red, grey and yellow) livery, or the variation "flying tomato" (same though without the grey), which they wore through until the 1990s. As part of the rebuilding to DFT they were repainted into the Cato Blue livery (Fruit Salad with blue in place of red), with some later receiving the Bumble Bee (black and yellow) and Tolls' Corn Cob (green and yellow) schemes. Units are now being repainted into KiwiRail's yellow, red and grey scheme, with those on lease to Auckland Transport painted in the MAXX Blue (deep blue and yellow) livery. DF 6133 (now DFB 7307) was the only unit to receive a non-Fruit Salad livery as a DF, wearing a Tasman Forestry scheme in the early 1990s.
In December 1996, Tranz Rail sold the DFT class to the General American Transportation Corporation (GATX, an American locomotive and rolling stock leasing company) for $131.5 million. It then leased the locomotives back for a period of 12 years. The lease ended on 19 December 2008 with ownership of the locomotives going to Tranz Rail's successor, KiwiRail, which paid a further $36.6m to buy the locomotives back.
In the early 2000s a number of DFTs were fitted with the Maxitrax wheelslip control and received an internal sub-classification of DFM. This was used in the Amicus computer system only, and the classification was initially not applied to the locomotives themselves which remained identified as DFT. Although Maxitrax has since been removed from these locomotives the units some of the units that were classed as DFM have had the designation applied to them when repainted into the KiwiRail livery.
In 2006 Toll Rail began installing the Brightstar engine management system into a number of DFT class locomotives, with these locomotives then officially reclassified as DFB. In all 12 locomotives have received Brightstar, with these locomotives currently undergoing a 'DFB overhaul' programme.
As of 2014[update], one DF unit has been withdrawn from service. DFT 7117 was withdrawn in 2013 following an accident north of Kaikoura in 2011. It is stored at Hutt Workshops and has been used as a source of spare parts for the other locomotives. It was believed that the other 17 remaining DFTs would be withdrawn after the second batch of DLs arrive, owing to the decision to refurbish only the 12 DFB locomotives. However despite the second 20 DLs now being in service no further DFT locomotives have yet been withdrawn.
A number of DF class locomotives have been involved in derailments and level crossing accidents that have required repair. The most significant incident involving a DF unit was a head-on collision between DFT 7254 and DC 4202 and DX 5448 at Waipahi in Otago in 1999, in which the driver of the DFT was killed and the locomotive suffered considerable frontal damage. After a lengthy period in storage it was repaired and returned to service renumbered as DFB 7348.
|Key:||In service||Out of service||Auckland Transport service||Preserved||Overhaul/Repair||Scrapped|
|TMS No. (DFT)||TMS No. (DF)||Original No.[n 1]||Introduced||Current Livery[n 2] [n 3]||Status||Allocated to||Notes|
|DFT 7008||DF 6260||February 1981||KiwiRail Phase 1||In service||North Island||First DFT rebuild. Damaged after hitting a truck near Temuka, March 2008. Repaired & received KiwiRail livery.|
|DFB 7010||DF 6300||February 1981||MAXX Blue||In service||North Island|
|DFT 7023||DF 6248||February 1981||Toll Rail ("Corn Cob")||In service||South Island|
|DFT 7036||DF 6317||February 1981||KiwiRail||In service||South Island|
|DFT 7049||DF 6219||February 1981||Tranz Rail Black ("Bumble Bee")||In service||South Island|
|DFT 7051||DF 6231||February 1981||KiwiRail||In service||North Island|
|DFT 7064||DF 6254||February 1981||Tranz Rail Blue||In service||North Island||Involved in a derailment along with DC 4006 descending the Westmere Bank north of Wanganui in September 2000|
|DFT 7077||DF 6225||February 1981||KiwiRail||In service||South Island|
|DFT 7092||DF 6283||February 1981||KiwiRail||In service||South Island|
|DFT 7104||DF 6277||February 1981||MAXX Blue||In service||North Island|
|DFT 7117||DF 6156||DF 1665||September 1979||Tranz Rail Blue||Out of service||South Island||Out of service since suffering heavy damage when derailed after running into a landslide near Kaikoura on 21 June 2011 Currently in outside storage at Hutt Workshops. Withdrawn 2013, spare parts for the rest of the fleet.|
|DFT 7132||DF 6191||DF 1669||October 1979||KiwiRail||In service||South Island|
|DFT 7145||DF 6012||DF 1652||October 1979||KiwiRail||In service||North Island|
|DFB 7158||DF 6202||DF 1670||September 1979||KiwiRail||In service||North Island|
|DFB 7160||DF 6087||DF 1659||November 1979||KiwiRail||In service||North Island|
|DFB 7173||DF 6029||DF 1653||September 1979||KiwiRail||In service||North Island|
|DFB 7186||DF 6070||DF 1658||September 1979||KiwiRail||In service||North Island|
|DFT 7199||DF 6110||DF 1662||October 1979||KiwiRail||In service||South Island|
|DFB 7200||DF 6185||DF 1668||September 1979||MAXX Blue||In service||North Island|
|DFB 7213||DF 6104||DF 1661||September 1979||Tranz Rail Blue||In service||North Island|
|DFT 7226||DF 6035||DF 1654||November 1979||KiwiRail||In service||North Island|
|DFB 7239||DF 6006||DF 1651||October 1979||KiwiRail||In service||North Island|
|DFB 7241||DF 6093||DF 1660||October 1979||KiwiRail||In service||North Island|
|DFB 7267||DF 6179||DF 1667||October 1979||KiwiRail||In service||North Island|
|DFT 7282||DF 6041||DF 1655||August 1979||Tranz Rail Black ("Bumble Bee")||In service||North Island|
|DFT 7295||DF 6127||DF 1663||October 1979||KiwiRail||In service||South Island|
|DFB 7307||DF 6133||DF 1664||October 1979||Toll Rail ("Corn Cob")||In service||North Island||Received Tasman Forestry livery in November 1991 before DFT rebuild.|
|DFT 7322||DF 6162||DF 1666||September 1979||Tranz Rail Blue||In service||North Island|
|DFT 7335||DF 6064||DF 1657||July 1979||Tranz Rail Blue||In service||North Island|
|DFB 7348||DF 6058||DF 1656||August 1979||MAXX Blue||In service||North Island||Formerly DFT 7254. Renumbered when returned to service after involvement in a fatal collision at Waipahi in 1999|
- Ten locomotives never received road numbers, as they began service after the introduction of TMS in 1980.
- Livery is from latest information posted on New Zealand Railtrack.
- DFTs due to receive a KiwiRail repaint include DFT 7023,DFT 7049 , DFB 7213, DFT 7282 and DFB 7307.
- NZPA (20 August 2007). "Rolling stock decision looms for Toll NZ". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
- Railfan 19 (2). Triple M Publications. March 2013. ISSN 1173-2229.
- "New Zealand RailTrack". Retrieved 2010-10-03.
- "Rail Reports". TAIC. Retrieved 1 December 2011.
- "Rail Reports". TAIC. Retrieved 1 December 2011.
- "Freight train slips off track". stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
- "Rail Reports". TAIC. Retrieved 1 December 2011.
- "NZR Locomotives and Railcars 1983". T A McGavin. New Zealand Railway and Locomotive Society : Wellington, New Zealand : 1983.
- "New Zealand Railway Diesels". E J McClare. Southern Press : Wellington, New Zealand.