Commonwealth Railways CL class

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Commonwealth Railways CL class
Australian Railroad Group CLs at Lara
in September 2006
Type and origin
Power type Diesel-electric
Builder Clyde Engineering, Granville
Model AT26C (CL), AT26C-2M (CLF)
Build date 1970-1972
Total produced 17
Rebuilder Morrison Knudsen Australia
Rebuild date 1993
Number rebuilt 17
 • UIC Co-Co
Gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Bogies Clyde Engineering Hi-Ad
Wheel diameter 1,016 mm (40.0 in)
Length 19.58 m (64 ft 3 in)
Axle load 21.5t (CL/CLF),
Loco weight 129t (CL/CLF) 131t (CLP)
Fuel type Diesel
Fuel capacity 10,230 L (2,250 imp gal; 2,700 US gal) (CL/CLF)
11,360 L (2,500 imp gal; 3,000 US gal) (CLP)
Lubricant cap. 870 L (190 imp gal; 230 US gal)
Coolant cap. 1,115 L (245 imp gal; 295 US gal)
Sandbox cap. 340 L (75 imp gal; 90 US gal)
Prime mover EMD 16-645E3 (CL)
Electro-Motive Diesel 16-645E3C (CLF/CLP)
RPM range 315-900
Engine type Two-stroke V16 diesel
Aspiration Turbocharged
Alternator AR10A4
Traction motors EMD D77 (CL), EMD D78 (CLF/CLP)
Cylinders 16
Performance figures
Maximum speed 130 km/h (81 mph) (CL/CLF)
140 km/h (87 mph) (CLP)
Power output 2,237 kW (3,000 hp) (CL)
2,460 kW (3,300 hp) (CLF/CLP)
Number in class 17
Numbers CL1-CL17
Delivered January 1970
First run 9th February 1970
Preserved CL17 (CLP10)
Current owner Apex International
Genesee & Wyoming Australia
Streamliners Australia
Disposition 6 in service, 8 stored, 1 preserved, 2 scrapped

The CL class is a class of diesel locomotives built by Clyde Engineering, Granville for the Commonwealth Railways in several batches between 1970 and 1972. The class was the last in the world to be built with the Electro-Motive Diesel bulldog nose but differed from previous builds in having a mansard roof.[1]


Australian National CL10 at Parkeston in August 1987

In 1968 Commonwealth Railways placed an order for five 2237 kW locomotives with Clyde Engineering to operate services on the Trans-Australian Railway from Port Pirie to Kalgoorlie. They were mechanically similar to the Western Australian L class of 1967. The initial design was to have a Do-Do wheel arrangement and a USA style EMD FP45 cab. This was later changed to a streamlined carbody and conventional Co-Co wheel arrangement


The first locomotive was completed in January 1970, with two further orders resulting in 17 locomotives being built with the last delivered in October 1972.[1] Their operating sphere was extended through to Perth on Indian Pacific services and for a time in the 1970s they operated through to Lithgow, New South Wales. In July 1975, all were included in the transfer of Commonwealth Railways to Australian National. The CLs began to operate to Alice Springs and Adelaide when these were converted to standard gauge in 1980 and 1983. In 2004 they began to operate to Darwin following this line opening.


In August 1992 Australian National awarded Morrison Knudsen Australia a contract to remanufacture the CLs at its Whyalla factory.[2] As part of the deal Morrison Knudsen purchased the locomotives and leased them back to Australian National for 12 years. Seven were rebuilt as CLFs to operate freight services and ten as CLPs with head end power to operate the Indian Pacific, Ghan, and Overland passenger services.[3]

The rebuilding involved stripping back to the frame, with everything except for the nose section and monocoque frame removed. Changes included the EMD 645E3 engines being replaced with overhauled EMD 645E3C engines imported from Morrison Knudsen in the USA, the original main alternators were rebuilt from AR10/A4-D14 to the AR10/A9-D14 type, refurbished D78 traction motors replaced the originals along with a new gear ratio, and new MK-LOC microprocessor controls were fitted. The cab was upgraded to modern standards, the brake setup was also changed from twin to single shoe per wheel, and a number of other small changes were made to assist maintenance.[3]

After rebuilding the locomotives did not retain their numbers, for example the first locomotive converted was CL2 which emerged as CLF1. All were back in service by the end of 1993. The CLFs appeared in the standard Australian National green with yellow data panel, strip and B-end. The CLPs received a unique livery, with a lighter green nose, silver carbody, and a yellow stripe running from the nose to the rear.[3]

In 1994 Australian National's interstate services were transferred to National Rail. The lease with Morrison Knudsen meant the locomotives could only be used on Australian National trains, or a higher lease fee would apply. As a result, the class were not seen on National Rail operated trains, and did not venture onto the wider national standard gauge network until Australian National won hook and pull contracts for private operator SCT Logistics.[3]

From January 1994, CLPs began operating the Indian Pacific from Sydney to Perth, previously New South Wales and Western Australia used their own locomotives on the train when within their state borders.[4] On conversion to standard gauge in 1995, The Overland was also hauled by CLPs.[3] The use of the CLPs on passenger trains came to an end in November 1997, when the passenger operations of Australian National were sold to Great Southern Rail, who contracted National Rail to haul their trains.

CLP15 was involved in the Mount Christie head-on collision in February 1997, being stored for several months before scrapping in November the same year.[3]

Private ownership[edit]

In November 1997 the CL class were sold to Australian Southern Railroad with Australian National's remaining freight operations. With the splitting up of the Australian Railroad Group in June 2006, ten went to QR National (now known as Aurizon) and six to Genesee & Wyoming Australia.[5][6][7][8]

In mid-2017, a campaign was started with the aim of purchasing CLP10 from Aurizon and restoring it to its as-built condition as CL17. On June 21st 2018, the campaign was successful in raising $150,000 required to preserve it.[9][10]

Class list[edit]

Key: In Service Withdrawn Preserved Unknown Scrapped
Serial Number Entered Service Original Road Number Renumbered As Rebuild Serial Number Original Name Rebuilt Name Current/Last Owner Status
69-693 9th February 1970 CL1 CLP15 93-AN-15 John Gorton Kokatha Australian National Scrapped, November 1997 (Mount Christie collision)
70-694 9th March 1970 CL2 CLF1 93-AN-1 - City of Whyalla Apex International Stored, 20th January 2013 (Goulburn)
70-695 20th April 1970 CL3 CLP13 93-AN-13 - Nukunu Apex International Stored, 20th January 2013 (Goulburn)
70-696 22nd May 1970 CL4 CLP14 93-AN-14 - Barngarla Genesee & Wyoming Australia In Service
70-697 16th July 1970 CL5 CLF4 93-AN-4 - - Apex International Stored (Goulburn)
70-734 9th November 1970 CL6 CLF6 93-AN-6 - - Genesee & Wyoming Australia In Service
70-735 26th November 1970 CL7 CLF3 93-AN-3 - - Apex International Stored, 20th January 2013 (Goulburn)
71-736 15th January 1971 CL8 CLP17 93-AN-17 - Arabana Genesee & Wyoming Australia In Service
71-737 18th March 1971 CL9 CLP8 93-AN-8 Gough Whitlam City of Port Augusta Genesee & Wyoming Australia In Service
71-738 23rd April 1971 CL10 CLP16 93-AN-16 - Murunitja Genesee & Wyoming Australia In Service
71-739 10th June 1971 CL11 CLF2 93-AN-2 - - Apex International Stored, 20th January 2013 (Goulburn)
71-698 6th July 1971 CL12 CLF5 93-AN-5 - - Genesee & Wyoming Australia In Service
71-699 12th August 1971 CL13 CLP9 93-AN-9 - Wiljakali Apex International Stored (Goulburn)
71-754 16th December 1971 CL14 CLP11 93-AN-11 Charlie Jones Kaurna Apex International Stored, 20th January 2013 (Goulburn)
71-755 21st January 1972 CL15 CLP12 93-AN-12 - Ngadjuri Apex International Stored, 20th January 2013 (Goulburn)
72-756 1st March 1972 CL16 CLF7 93-AN-7 - - Aurizon Scrapped, 10th October 2016 (Sims Metal Brooklyn)
72-757 16th June 1972 CL17 CLP10 93-AN-10 William McMahon Mirning Streamliners Australia Preserved



  1. ^ a b Oberg, Leon (2007). Locomotives of Australia 1854-2007. Rosenberg Publishing. p. 359. ISBN 1-877058-54-8. 
  2. ^ "Morrison Knudsen Australia and the CLPs" Railway Digest June 1994 pages 16-23
  3. ^ a b c d e f Antony Fitzgerald (2000). Morrison Knudsen in Australia. Australian Diesel Scene 4. Eveleigh Press. pp. 6–43. 
  4. ^ "CLP Class Locos Take-Over Indian Pacific Workings" Railway Digest March 1994 page 7
  5. ^ Standard Gauge CL Chris' Commonwealth Railways Pages
  6. ^ CL Class Railpage
  7. ^ CLF Class Railpage
  8. ^ CLP Class Railpage
  9. ^ Last chance to Save CLP10 Last EMD Streamliner Built in Australia GoGetFunding
  10. ^ Streamliners Australia rally to save unique Goulburn loco The Goulburn Post


  • Fluck, Ronald E; Marshall, Barry; Wilson, John (1996). Locomotives and Railcars of the Commonwealth Railways. Welland, SA: Gresley Publishing. ISBN 1876216018. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Commonwealth Railways CL class locomotives at Wikimedia Commons