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 typeDiesel-electric
BuilderClyde Engineering, Granville
ModelAT26C (CL), AT26C-2M (CLF)
Build date1970-1972
Total produced17
RebuilderMorrison Knudsen Australia
Rebuild date1993
Number rebuilt17
 • UICCo-Co
Gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
BogiesClyde Engineering Hi-Ad
Wheel diameter1,016 mm (40.0 in)
Length19.58 m (64 ft 3 in)
Axle load21.5t (CL/CLF),
Loco weight129t (CL/CLF) 131t (CLP)
Fuel typeDiesel
Fuel capacity10,230 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 moverEMD 16-645E3 (CL)
Electro-Motive Diesel 16-645E3C (CLF/CLP)
RPM range315-900
Engine typeTwo-stroke V16 diesel
Traction motorsEMD D77 (CL), EMD D78 (CLF/CLP)
Performance figures
Maximum speed130 km/h (81 mph) (CL/CLF)
140 km/h (87 mph) (CLP)
Power output2,237 kW (3,000 hp) (CL)
2,460 kW (3,300 hp) (CLF/CLP)
Number in class17
DeliveredJanuary 1970
First run9 February 1970
PreservedCL17 (CLP10)
Current ownerApex International
Genesee & Wyoming Australia
Streamliners Australia
Disposition6 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.[citation needed]


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 fund-raising campaign was started with the aim of purchasing CLP10 from Apex International and restoring it externally to its as-built condition as CL17. On 21 June 2018, it was announced that the campaign had been successful in raising the $150,000 required to purchase the locomotive for preservation.[9][10]

Gennesee and Wyoming CLP17 "Arabana"

Class list[edit]

Key: In Service Withdrawn Preserved Unknown Scrapped
Original Number Entered Service Renumbered As Rebuild Serial Name Current/Last Owner Status
CL1 Feb 1970 CLP15 93-AN-15 Kokatha Australian National Scrapped (Mt Christie Collision)
CL2 March 1970 CLF1 93-AN-1 City of Whyalla SSR Stored (Goulburn)
CL3 April 1970 CLP13 93-AN-13 Nukunu Private owner Stored (Goulburn)
CL4 May 1970 CLP14 93-AN-14 Barngarla GWA In service
CL5 July 1970 CLF4 93-AN-4 - Private owner Stored (Goulburn)
CL6 Nov 1970 CLF6 93-AN-6 - GWA In service
CL7 Nov 1970 CLF3 93-AN-3 - SSR Stored (Goulburn)
CL8 January 1971 CLP17 93-AN-17 Arabana GWA In service
CL9 March 1971 CLP8 93-AN-8 City of Port Augusta GWA In service
CL10 April 1971 CLP16 93-AN-16 Murunitja GWA In service
CL11 June 1971 CLF2 93-AN-2 - Private owner Stored (Goulburn)
CL12 July 1971 CLF5 93-AN-5 - GWA In service
CL13 August 1971 CLP9 93-AN-9 Wiljakali SSR Stored (Goulburn)
CL14 Dec 1971 CLP11 93-AN-11 Kaurna Private owner Stored (Goulburn)
CL15 January 1972 CLP12 93-AN-12 Ngadjuri SSR Stored (Goulburn)
CL16 March 1972 CLF7 93-AN-7 - Aurizon Scrapped (2016)
CL17 June 1972 CLP10 93-AN-10 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