NZR RM class (Sentinel-Cammell)

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NZ RM class
Sentinel-Cammell steam railcar.jpg
Type and origin
Power type Steam railcar
(Passenger capacity: 48)
Builder Sentinel Waggon Works
Build date 1925
Gauge 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm)
Loco weight 20 tons
Fuel type Coal
Boiler pressure 275 psi (1,896 kPa)
Performance figures
Maximum speed 45 mph (72 km/h)
Operators New Zealand Railways
Number in class 1
Locale Thames Branch
Withdrawn 7 May 1931

The NZR RM class Sentinel-Cammell steam railcar was a steam-powered railcar operated by the New Zealand Railways Department (NZR). It was the only one of its type to operate in New Zealand, and one of only two steam railcars trialled in the country; the other was the Clayton steam railcar.


In the early 20th century, NZR began experiments with railcars as an option to replace unprofitable regional locomotive-hauled carriage expresses and to provide an efficient passenger service on rural branch lines that were served solely by slow mixed trains that carried both goods and passengers. In 1925, a steam railcar was ordered from the England-based Sentinel Waggon Works of Shrewsbury and Metro Cammell of Birmingham, and when it entered revenue service, it was the first railcar to do so in the Auckland Region. It subsequently operated outside this region.


The railcar failed to be fast enough for the Melling Branch, so it was assigned to run a feeder service for the Night Limited express that ran between Wellington and Auckland. This service operated from Thames along the Thames Branch[1] and met the express before returning to Thames. This service was not the sole domain of the Sentinel-Cammell steam railcars, however; it was sometimes a carriage train hauled by steam locomotives such as the UD class. In 1928 it survived a collision with cows.[2]


The Sentinel-Cammell steam railcar did not prove popular with passengers or crews and was not expanded into a full fleet. After a few years of service, it was quietly withdrawn and scrapped.


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