South Australian Railways Bluebird railcar

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South Australian Railways Bluebird railcar
SAR 257 Kestrel, NRM, 2014.JPG
Preserved 257 at the National Railway Museum, Port Adelaide in April 2014
ManufacturerSouth Australian Railways
Built atIslington Railway Workshops
Constructed1954-1959
Number built21
Fleet numbers100-106, 250-260, 280-282
Capacity250 class: 56 (some reduced to 52)
100 class: 72
280 class 20 tonnes (20 long tons; 22 short tons)
Operator(s)South Australian Railways
Australian National
Specifications
Car length100/250 class: 23.85 m (78 ft 3 in)
280 class: 20.42 m (67 ft 0 in)
Width2.97 m (9 ft 9 in)
Height4.17 m (13 ft 8 in)
Maximum speed112 km/h (70 mph)
Weight250/280 class: 60 tonnes (59.05 long tons; 66.14 short tons)
100 class: 42 tonnes (41.34 long tons; 46.30 short tons)
Prime mover(s)2 x Cummins NT-855 6-cylinder diesel
AuxiliariesGeneral Motors 3-71 cylinder diesel
BogiesBradford Kendall
Braking system(s)Westinghouse
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in)

The Bluebird railcars were a class of self-propelled diesel-hydraulic railcar built by the South Australian Railways' Islington Railway Workshops between 1954 and 1959.

History[edit]

The three types of Bluebird railcars in May 1987 on a charter trip at Telford, South Australia: 250 class power car 256Kookaburra, 100 class trailer cars 101 Grebe and 105 Snipe and 280 class powered baggage car 282

The Bluebird railcars were built to provide modern air-conditioned services on the country passenger rail system where the patronage did not warrant the use of locomotive hauled passenger trains, and to replace the ageing fleet of Brill railcars introduced in 1924.

In December 1948, tenders were called for 30 sets of engines, gearboxes, electrical assemblies and compressors. The contract for the engines was awarded to Cummins while the contract for the eight speed gearboxes was awarded to Cotal of France. All of the engines had been received by May 1952, however problems with the gearboxes meant the first not to arrive until January 1954. Cotal subsequently ceased trading in April 1954 with only six having been delivered, so an alternative source was found.[1]

Twenty-one Bluebirds were manufactured by the South Australian Railways' Islington Railway Workshops. The fleet consisted of 11 second class passenger power cars (250 class), three baggage power cars (280 class) and seven first class passenger trailer cars (100 class). They were first introduced in October 1954; the last unit entered service on 12 November 1959.[2][3][4][5] Their excellent ride, quiet and airconditioning set a new standard in Australian railcars.

The 100 and 250 class were named after birds; the un-named 280 class baggage cars only carried road numbers.[6] They operated services on the broad gauge network from Adelaide to Burra, Gladstone, Moonta, Morgan, Mount Gambier, Nuriootpa, Port Pirie, Tailem Bend, Terowie (extended to Peterborough in 1970) and Victor Harbor.[1][7][8][9]

Each Bluebird was powered initially by a pair of Cummins NHHS-600 engines, which were replaced between 1959 and 1965 by Cummins NHHRS engines and again by Cummins NT 855 engines between 1975 and 1977.[1][10] Auxiliary power was provided by a General Motors 3-71 engine, later replaced by a Deutz unit.[11] In 1971–72, cars 101, 105, 106, 250-253 and 257-259 were fitted with buffet facilities.[1]

In March 1978 all Bluebirds were included in the transfer of the assets of South Australian Railways to Australian National. In 1986, a new computer system required the class leaders to be renumbered as the last member of the class: hence 100 became 107, 250 became 261 and 280 became 283.[12][13]

By 1985, ten Bluebirds had been fitted with standard gauge bogies for use on services to Port Pirie, Whyalla and Broken Hill.[14][15][16] One was fitted with 20 poker machines, operating tours to Broken Hill from April 1988 to February 1993.[17][18]

In 1989, shortly before all South Australian country passenger services were withdrawn, the 100 class trailers began to be used as sitting carriages on the Indian Pacific and The Overland.[19][20][21][22] Some were also converted for use as crew carriages on Trans-Australian Railway services.[11][23][24] The last were withdrawn in January 1993 and placed in store at Mile End and later Islington Railway Workshops. In May 1995, no. 257 was donated to the National Railway Museum, Port Adelaide.[25][11]

In 1997, 15 of the railcars were sold to Bluebird Rail Operations, a business of C.O.C. Limited.[11][26] In May 1998 Bluebird Rail Operations commenced operating the Barossa Wine Train from Adelaide to Tanunda via the Barossa Valley line with three refurbished Bluebirds (102, 251 and 252). The venture ceased in April 200, after which the railcars were stored at the National Railway Museum, Port Adelaide.[27][28]

In 1998 another four (106, 107, 254 and 255) were refurbished and hired to V/Line for Gippsland line services from Melbourne to Warragul and Traralgon.[29][30][31] Following mechanical failures while being trialled on the Gippsland line, the railcars were returned in June 1999.[32][33] One was sold to the Northern Rivers Railroad for use on its Murwillumbah line charter train.[34]

In 2003 four returned to Victoria for a proposed service from Melbourne to Mildura, which did not materialise.[35]

Disposition of the railcars[edit]

The following table shows the disposition of Bluebird railcars in 2012. To expand it, click [show] in the header cell titled "Notes".

Key: In Service Withdrawn Preserved Scrapped
Number Original name In service Withdrawn Scrapped Current owner Current identity Notes
250 Quail October 1954 2012 Renumbered 261 in 1986.[13] Withdrawn 1995 and sold to Bluebird Rail Operations. Converted to crew car FDAY 4 for FreightLink.[36][37] Destroyed in a bridge washaway Katherine on 27 December 2011, scrapped.
251 Lowan November 1954 2003 Barossa Wine Train Withdrawn 1995 and sold to Bluebird Rail Operations. Returned to service in 1998 for Barossa Wine Train and renamed Chardonnay. Stored at Islington Railway Workshops since 2003.
252 Blue Wren August 1955 2003 Barossa Wine Train Fitted with a buffet in 1972, seating reduced to 52. Withdrawn 1995 and sold to Bluebird Rail Operations. Returned to service in 1998 for Barossa Wine Train and renamed Merlot. Stored at Islington Railway Workshops since 2003.
253 Pelican August 1955 SCT Logistics PDAY 1 Fitted with a buffet in 1972, seating reduced to 52. Withdrawn 1995 and sold to Bluebird Rail Operations. Converted to crew car for SCT Logistics.[38]
254 Brolga September 1955 CFCL Australia CDBY 254 Withdrawn 1995 and sold to Bluebird Rail Operations. Renumbered 801 and leased to V/Line 1998-1999. Converted to crew car for CFCLA in 2007.[38][39]
255 Curlew March 1956 CFCL Australia CDBY 255 Withdrawn 1995 and sold to Bluebird Rail Operations. Renumbered 802 and leased to V/Line 1998-1999. Converted to crew car for CFCLA in 2007.[38][39]
256 Kookaburra December 1956 FreightLink FDAY 5 Withdrawn 1995 and sold to Bluebird Rail Operations. Converted to crew car for FreightLink in 2003.[36][37]
257 Kestrel February 1957 March 1995 National Railway Museum Fitted with a buffet in 1972, seating reduced to 52. Withdrawn 1995 and gifted to the National Railway Museum. Restored to operational condition 2012.[40]
258 Goshawk April 1957 SCT Logistics PDAY 3 Withdrawn 1995 and sold to Bluebird Rail Operations. Converted to crew car for SCT Logistics in 2005.[38]
259 Penguin November 1957 December 1995 Rail Technical Services Fitted with a buffet in 1972, seating reduced to 52. Converted to locomotive hauled car BM 259 in 1990. Withdrawn 1995 and sold to International Development Services. Sold in 1998 to West Coast Railway. Sold to Rail Technical Services in 2004. Stored.
260 Corella November 1959 SCT Logistics PDAY 2 Withdrawn 1995 and sold to Bluebird Rail Operations. Converted to crew car for SCT Logistics in 2005.[38]
280 December 1958 1995 1995 Renumbered 283 1986[13]
281 December 1958 1995 1995
282 May 1959 1995 1995
100 Mopoke September 1955 CFCL Australia RZDY 100 Renumbered 107 1986.[13] Withdrawn 1995 and sold to Bluebird Rail Operations. Renumbered 811 and leased to V/Line 1998-1999. Renumbered back to 100 and named Cabernet for Barossa Wine Train in 2001. Sold to CFCLA in 2002. Converted to crew car for Pacific National in 2006.[41]
101 Grebe October 1955 FreightLink FDAY 1 Converted to locomotive hauled car BR 101 in 1990. Withdrawn 1995 and sold to Bluebird Rail Operations. Sold to FreightLink 2003 and converted to crew car in 2004.[36][37]
102 Plover November 1955 1995 CFCL Australia Converted to locomotive hauled car BR 102 in 1990. Withdrawn 1995 and sold to Bluebird Rail Operations. Renamed Shiraz for Barossa Wine Train in 2001. Sold to CFCLA in 2003. Stored.
103 Ibis June 1956 Pacific National RZDY 103 fitted with 20 poker machines, operating tours to Broken Hill from April 1988 to February 1993.[18] Sold to Northern Rivers Railroad 1999.[34] Sold to Pacific National and converted to crew car in 2006.[41]
104 Avocet February 1958 FreightLink FDAY 2 Withdrawn 1995 and sold to Bluebird Rail Operations. Sold to FreightLink and converted to crew car in 2003.[36][37]
105 Snipe July 1958 FreightLink FDAY 3 Converted to locomotive hauled car BR 105 in 1990. Withdrawn 1995 and sold to Bluebird Rail Operations. Sold to FreightLink and converted to crew car in 2003.[36][37]
106 Bittern August 1958 CFCL Australia RZDY 106 Converted to locomotive hauled car BR 106 in 1990. Withdrawn 1995 and sold to Bluebird Rail Operations. Sold to Great Northern Rail Services in 2001. Sold to CFCLA in 2002. Converted to crew car for Pacific National in 2006.[41]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "250, 100, 280 Class Railcars of the South Australian Railways" Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin issue 564 October 1984 pages 213-236
  2. ^ "Here & There" Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin volume 209 March 1955 page 38
  3. ^ "Trial Runs of New Diesel Railcars" Railway Gazette 9 September 1955 page 300
  4. ^ "Australasia" Diesel Railway Traction April 1956 page 134
  5. ^ "Famous Name Trains: Blue Birds" Network November 1964 page 3
  6. ^ Bluebird Railcars 280 to 282 Chris' Commonwealth Railways Pages
  7. ^ "250, 100, 280 Class Railcars of the South Australian Railways" Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin issue 565 November 1984 pages 251-260
  8. ^ "250, 100, 280 Class Railcars of the South Australian Railways" Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin issue 566 December 1984 pages 268-280
  9. ^ The Bluebird Railcars of the South Australian Railways The Railways of South Australia & Victoria
  10. ^ "Here & There" Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin issue 443 September 1974 page 8
  11. ^ a b c d "Bluebird" Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin volume 737 March 1999 pages 85-86
  12. ^ "Australian National Broken Hill Line Report" Railway Digest October 1986 page 314
  13. ^ a b c d "Here & There" Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin volume 591 January 1987 page 2
  14. ^ "Bluebird Railcar Conversions" Catch Point issue 45 April 1985
  15. ^ "South Australia" Railway Digest April 1985 page 119
  16. ^ "Bluebirds to Broken Hill" Catch Point issue 58 March 1987 page 14
  17. ^ "Pokies on a Bluebird" Catch Point issue 69 January 1989 page 22
  18. ^ a b "Catering Facilities of the Former South Australian Railways" Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin volume 708 October 1996 page 303
  19. ^ "Bluebird Trailers for Head End Working" Catch Point issue 74 November 1989 page 24
  20. ^ "Here & There" Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin volume 627 January 1990 page 22
  21. ^ "Here & There" Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin volume 629 March 1990 page 73
  22. ^ "Loco Hauled Cars" Railway Digest" May 1990 page 191
  23. ^ Bluebird Railcar Driving Trailers 100 to 107 Chris' Commonwealth Railways Pages
  24. ^ Bluebird Railcars 250 to 260 Chris' Commonwealth Railways Pages
  25. ^ "Kestral returns to operation" Railway Digest May 2013 pages 52-53
  26. ^ [1]
  27. ^ "The Barossa Wine Train in retrospect" Railway Digest October 2003 pages 33-35
  28. ^ Wine train plan derailed Adelaide Advertiser 10 November 2006
  29. ^ "More Bluebirds Head East" Catch Point issue 129 January 1999 page 5
  30. ^ "Rolling Stock Alterations" Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin March 1999 page 18
  31. ^ "Bluebird Railcars" Railway Digest January 1999 page 35
  32. ^ "Bluebirds Return Home from Victoria" Catch Point issue 132 July 1999 page 4
  33. ^ "The Bluebirds Have Flown from Victoria" Railway Digest July 1999 page 17
  34. ^ a b "Northern Rivers launches a Ritzy Train" Railway Digest July 1999 page 50
  35. ^ "Bluebird Railcars on the Move" Catch Point issue 155 May 2003 page 12
  36. ^ a b c d e "New Life for Bluebirds - Up North" Catch Point issue 159 January 2004 page 6
  37. ^ a b c d e "Rolling Stock News" Railway Digest September 2004 page 42
  38. ^ a b c d e "The Bluebird Railcars of the South Australian Railways" Railway Digest April 2008 pages 20-26
  39. ^ a b "More Crew Cars Emerge" Catch Point issue 185 May 2008 page 17
  40. ^ "Bluebird Kestrel 257 back to life" Catch Point issue issue 212 November 2012 page 36
  41. ^ a b c "More ex Blue Bird Crew Cars in Service" Catch Point issue 177 January 2007 page 7

External links[edit]

Media related to Bluebird railcar at Wikimedia Commons