CPH railmotor

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The CPH (or 42 foot) railmotors were introduced by the New South Wales Government Railways in 1923 to provide feeder service on country branch lines.[1]


Often referred to as "Tin Hares", having evolved at the same time as the mechanical lures used in greyhound racing in Australia, the first vehicle was placed in service on 17 December 1923 and based at Culcairn, in southern New South Wales.[2][3]


They were lightweight vehicles and considerable care was taken in the original selection of materials used in their construction. One of the most innovative features was the underframe. No bolts or rivets were used in its construction and it was fabricated entirely by welding. It is believed to be the first application of such technique on a railway vehicle in Australia.

The body was of timber construction, using mainly Queensland yellow wood, pines and cedars. The cars were finished externally with tongue and grooved timber below the window line.[2]


As built, the normal seating capacity was 45, 21 in 1st class and 24 in 2nd class. A further seven could be accommodated on the flap seats provided in the guard's compartment.[2] An additional feature of these cars were the prized seats either side of the driver (the drivers cab being centrally located in the middle of the carriage, there was one passenger seat located either side of the cab, looking directly ahead).

During their lifetime, seating arrangements were modified to suit the working being undertaken and included the removal of a varying number of seats for increased luggage capacity. From the mid-1970s the so-called "Big Cab" conversions were applied to a number of units. This involved the construction of a wall between the first and second rows of seats to create an isolated driver's cab. The back of the original driver's cab was removed and a loose seat provided. This conversion was applied to one end only and could be fitted to either the No.1 or No.2 End.


As built, they were fitted with petrol engines, the first four (CPH 3-6) receiving a 6-cylinder 75 hp Thornycroft Z6 and the others a 6-cylinder 95 hp Leyland type and a four-speed mechanical transmission controlled by a lever in the cab. Some units were later fitted with a 6-cylinder 150 hp Leyland petrol engine and a Lysholm-Smith hydraulic transmission. Experiments were also made with AEC and Winton engines in some vehicles. A 6-cylinder 120hp Leyland diesel engine was also trialled in one unit. During World War 2, to conserve fuel, gas producer units were fitted to six vehicles. Five of these six were destroyed when fire spread to the vehicle. Beginning in 1945, a programme began to replace the petrol engines with 6-cylinder GM Detroit Diesel 71 Series engines and Twin Disc 3-position hydraulic transmissions. It was also at this time that multiple unit controls were fitted. A single driver's cab and multiple unit controls were fitted to the No.2 End of the five trailer cars at this time.[2]


A total of 37 vehicles were built and they operated many branch line services throughout the state, from Kyogle in the north to the Riverina in the south, as well as extensively through the Central West regions, until their widespread withdrawal in November 1983 and replacement by road transport. A fleet of 12 CPHs continued to be used extensively in the Wollongong area, working north to Waterfall, west to Moss Vale and south to Port Kembla and Kiama.[2] In Newcastle a CPH provided passenger services on the Belmont line until these ceased in April 1971.

They also operated pre-electrification service on many Sydney suburban services. These include Bankstown to Lidcombe, Clyde to Carlingford, Liverpool to Campbelltown, Westmead to Rogans Hill, Kingsgrove to East Hills, Hornsby to Cowan, Blacktown to Richmond and Sutherland to Waterfall.[2] In November 1984 the last Sydney area motors were withdrawn from Richmond services along with most of those in Wollongong.[3] The final two CPHs, 36 and 37, were withdrawn after the Moss Vale to Wollongong service ceased in September 1985.[4]


Following list of preserved Rail Motors:

Preserved Rolling Stock
Number Owner Status Reference
CPH 1 Rail Motor Society Operational Rail Motor, CPH 1
CPH 2 Capital Region Heritage Rail Static, Junee Roundhouse Railway Museum
CPH 3 Rail Motor Society Operational Rail Motor, CPH 3
CPH 6 Cooma Monaro Railway Operational
CPH 7 Rail Motor Society Operational Rail Motor, CPH 7
CPH 8 Cooma Monaro Railway Under restoration
CPH 11 Glenreagh Mountain Railway Under restoration
CPH 12 Lachlan Valley Railway Operational
CPH 13 Oberon Tarana Heritage Railway Under restoration, Goulburn Rail Heritage Centre
CPH 14 Rail Motor Society Stored Rail Motor, CPH 14
CPH 16 Lachlan Valley Railway Stored Cowra
CPH 18 New South Wales Rail Transport Museum Operational Rail Motor, CPH 18
CPH 19 Rail Motor Society Stored Rail Motor, CPH 19
CPH 22 Cooma Monaro Railway Operational
CPH 24 Lachlan Valley Railway Operational
CPH 25 Lachlan Valley Railway Operational
CPH 27 Capital Region Heritage Rail Operational
CPH 31 Lachlan Valley Railway Stored
CPH 32 Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum Stored
CPH 34 Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum Stored
CPH 35 Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum Stored
CPH 36 Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum Stored
CPH 37 Capital Region Heritage Rail Operational
CTC 51 Rail Motor Society Under restoration[5] Rail Motor Trailer CTC 51
CTC 52 Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum Stored
CTC 53 Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum Stored
CTC 54 Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum Stored
CTC 55 Cooma Monaro Railway Operational



  1. ^ "Cooma- Monaro Railway". Cooma- Monaro Railway. Archived from the original on 2007-04-08. Retrieved 2007-05-05.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Cooke, David (1984). Rail Motors and XPT's. Australian Railway Historical Society NSW Division. ISBN 0-909650-23-3.
  3. ^ a b "Goodbye Tin Hare" Railway Digest February 1985 page 37
  4. ^ "Proposed Country Train Plans" Railway Digest May 1985 page 133
  5. ^ "The Rail Motor Society". The Rail Motor Society. Retrieved 2013-05-10.

External links[edit]

Media related to CPH railmotors at Wikimedia Commons