V/Line N class

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V/Line N Class
N469 at Southern Cross in August 2006
Type and origin
Power type Diesel-electric
Builder Clyde Engineering, Somerton
Model Electro-Motive Diesel JT22HC-2
Build date 1985-1987
Total produced 25
UIC class Co-Co
Gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in),
1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in)
Length 20.03 m (65 ft 9 in)
Loco weight 123 tonnes (121 long tons; 136 short tons)
Fuel type Diesel
Fuel capacity 6,800 L (1,500 imp gal; 1,800 US gal)
Lubricant cap 625 L (137 imp gal; 165 US gal)
Coolant cap 882 L (194 imp gal; 233 US gal)
Prime mover Order 1: Electro-Motive Diesel 12-645E3C
Order 2: Electro-Motive Diesel 12-645E3B
RPM range 300-904
Engine type Two-stroke diesel
Generator Electro-Motive Diesel(?) AR10-JJD-D18
Some converted to AR10-CA5
Traction motors Electro-Motive Diesel(?) D43
Some converted to D77
Performance figures
Maximum speed 130 km/h (81 mph)
Power output 1,846 kW (2,476 hp)
Tractive effort Starting: 289 kN (65,000 lbf)
Continuous: 260 kN (58,000 lbf) at 21 km/h (13 mph)
Operators V/Line
Number in class 25
Numbers N451-N475
Nicknames Dog bones
First run 1985
Current owner V/Line
Disposition 25 in service

The N Class are a class of diesel locomotives built by Clyde Engineering, Somerton for V/Line between 1985 and 1987.


N class in the original orange and grey livery hauling H type carriages in Geelong in 1993
N463 in the 1995 livery hauling N type carriages on the North East line in October 2007
N460 in the 2008 livery at Southern Cross in September 2008

By the start of the 1980s Victorian Railways passenger numbers had fallen to around 3 million per year, due to ageing rolling stock, stagnant timetables and competition from other forms of transport. The Lonie Report of 1980 recommended cuts to the network, with the general public responding by calling for the State Government to maintain a viable rail network. The government response in February 1981 was the New Deal for Country Passengers, a $115 million commitment to recast country rail passenger services in Victoria.[1]

As part of the New Deal all B class locomotives were to be re-built as the A class for use on passenger services and ten new locomotives ordered. Tenders closed in 1983 for the first 10 units, with Clyde Engineering being awarded the contract.[2] By mid-1985 the rising cost of the A class conversions saw the project abandoned after 11 locomotives were completed, and the N class order increased to 25 using the parts intended for the A class conversions.[1][3]

The class entered service on the 1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in) and operated on main lines all over the state, with the exception of the Gippsland line beyond Traralgon, a restriction that was later lifted. The class also saw regular use on The Overland Melbourne to Adelaide overnight service until it was withdrawn for conversion to 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) in March 1995.[2] As well as being operated by V/Line, class members were hired to the Warrnambool line operator West Coast Railway from 1993 until its own locomotives became available in 1995,[4] and to Shepparton line operator Hoys Roadlines between 1993 and 2004.[5]

In preparation for privatisation the operations of V/Line Freight and V/Line Passenger were split in 1995,[6] with the N class allocated to the passenger operator and included in the sale to National Express in 1999.[7] Before this time the class had also been employed on freight services with a maximum speed of 90 km/h (56 mph).[2]

During the Regional Fast Rail project, a number of shutdowns were carried out to normal passenger services, with the N class being used to haul ballast trains on the Geelong line in 2003/04,[8] as well as being hired to Freight Australia in January 2004 to haul log and grain services.[9] Since 2007 class members have also been hired to heritage operator Seymour Railway Heritage Centre for use on its trains, as the provision of TPWS equipment permits running at full line speed over the Regional Fast Rail network.[10][11]

Today with the VLocity diesel multiple units having entered service, the N class play a lesser role, their main use being peak hour commuter services and InterCity services beyond the Regional Fast Rail network to Bairnsdale, Swan Hill and Warrnambool on the broad gauge and Albury on the standard gauge. The class are authorised to operate at 115 km/h (71 mph), but some units have been upgraded with D77/78 traction motors and have a maximum speed of 130 km/h (81 mph).[12]


The N class feature a frame and body locally designed, but with imported Electro-Motive Division technology in the prime mover, generator and control unit, along with locally produced components such as the bogie frames by Bradford Kendall. The class was the first in the world to use the EMD D43 traction motor, similar to but smaller than that used in the C and G classes. Head end power is provided by a separate engine unit in a special compartment located at the number 1 end of the locomotive behind the electrical cabinet. The 240 kW generator provides 415V 3-phase AC power for train lighting, air conditioning and other carriage requirements.[2]

Fitted with 6,800 litre fuel tanks the class were capable of running from Melbourne to Adelaide without refuelling.[13] Electrical and electronic components are modular to minimise delays after failures, and a reactive muffler system reduces the exhaust noise level. While most of them have only been used on broad gauge, three of them have been converted to 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) by exchanging the wheelsets and repositioning the braking equipment.[2]

The narrow carbody provides for a catwalk along each side between the cabs, with fold back body panels for maintenance access. The cab is similar to that of the contemporary G class, with an anti-climber beam to prevent upward movement should a collision occur. Twin high impact windscreens are provided, with dual blade wipers. Each cab has room for a two-person crew, as well as an instructor if required. Air conditioning is provided, as well as an air-operated retention toilet at one end accessible from the catwalk. The locos were initially provided with automatic staff exchange equipment, but this was removed in the 1990s when the use of Electric Staff ended. The space remains in the cab side today.[2]

The carbody design was the basis of one-off locomotive GML10 built by Clyde Engineering in 1990.[14]

Compromise standard gauge wheel sets[edit]

To manufacture a compromise standard gauge wheel set one proceeds as follows: Take a raw Irish gauge length axle and machine the wheel seat at each end 82.5 mm (3.25 in) wider (or longer) along with all other machining required. The diameter of the wheel seat is slightly larger than the machined hole in the wheels in order to make for a press fit . The wheels are then pressed on at something like 20,000 psi (140,000 kPa) until they hit the raised shoulders and the wheels are now in the standard gauge position. The roller bearing seats are not modified so as to still suit the Irish gauge bogies.


The N class were delivered in the V/Line tangerine orange and grey livery, and progressively named after cities in Victoria, except for N453 which is named after the City of Albury on the other side of the Victorian/New South Wales border. N465 carries an earlier spelling of the city now Ballarat but which was originally Ballaarat. On 3 March 1987 locomotive N470 was returned to Clyde Engineering, Somerton for a ceremony, where brass plaques were affixed at both ends under the builder's plates, reading "N470 completing one million horsepower of diesel-electric locomotives built in Australia by Clyde Engineering Co".[15]

From 1995 the class members were repainted into a red and blue livery, with the V/Line logo on the side being altered after the privatisation of V/Line in 1999.[3] As of 2008, most N Class members have received white stripes along the cab-fronts, and cowcatchers painted yellow to increase visibility at level crossings in a program started in 2007.

In May 2008 locomotive N468 was repainted into the new V/Line livery of red with grey, white and yellow. Three of the repainted locos were converted to 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) in 2011 following the conversion of the North East line.[16][17]

On the 8th of April 2017, N457 made its first revenue run to Albury in a new PTV livery of Purple and Yellow. This follows the painting of Set SN 8 into the new livery to match the V/Locity fleet and the wider fleet of Victorian trams and buses.


Locomotive Name Serial No Entered service Owner Notes
N451 City of Portland 85-1219 20 September 1985 V/Line Passenger
N452 City of Wodonga 85-1220 10 October 1985 V/Line Passenger
N453 City of Albury 85-1221 1 November 1985 V/Line Passenger
N454 City of Horsham 85-1222 20 November 1985 V/Line Passenger
N455 City of Swan Hill 85-1223 19 December 1985 V/Line Passenger
N456 City of Colac 85-1224 29 January 1986 V/Line Passenger
N457 City of Mildura 85-1225 27 February 1986 V/Line Passenger 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) , Purple/Yellow 'PTV' Livery
N458 City of Maryborough 85-1226 17 March 1986 V/Line Passenger 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
N459 City of Echuca 85-1227 15 April 1986 V/Line Passenger
N460 City of Castlemaine 85-1228 15 May 1986 V/Line Passenger
N461 City of Ararat 85-1190 25 July 1986 V/Line Passenger
N462 City of Shepparton 86-1191 14 August 1986 V/Line Passenger
N463 City of Bendigo 86-1192 4 September 1986 V/Line Passenger 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
N464 City of Geelong 86-1193 29 September 1986 V/Line Passenger 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
N465 City of Ballarat 86-1194 20 October 1986 V/Line Passenger
N466 City of Warrnambool 86-1195 31 October 1986 V/Line Passenger
N467 City of Stawell 86-1196 26 November 1986 V/Line Passenger
N468 City of Bairnsdale 86-1197 19 December 1986 V/Line Passenger
N469 City of Morwell 86-1198 29 January 1987 V/Line Passenger
N470 City of Wangaratta 86-1199 17 February 1987 V/Line Passenger
N471 City of Benalla 87-1200 28 February 1987 V/Line Passenger
N472 City of Sale 87-1201 27 March 1987 V/Line Passenger
N473 City of Warragul 87-1202 28 April 1987 V/Line Passenger 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
N474 City of Traralgon 87-1203 28 May 1987 V/Line Passenger Minor Damage 04/16 - Crossing Accident
N475 City of Moe 87-1204 6 July 1987 V/Line Passenger Minor Damage 13/7/16 - Crossing Accident near Colac


  1. ^ a b Scott Martin & Chris Banger (October 2006). "'New Deal' for County Passengers - 25 years on". Newsrail. Australian Railway Historical Society (Victorian Division). p. 318. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Sid Brown (September 1987). "V/Line's N Class Locos". Newsrail. Australian Railway Historical Society (Victorian Division). pp. 268–269. 
  3. ^ a b N class diesel electric locomotives Mark Bau's VR website
  4. ^ Peter Attenborough (February 2004). "West Coast Railway". Australian Model Railway Magazine. pp. 32–34. 
  5. ^ Sid Brown (April 1996). "Train A-Hoy". Newsrail. Australian Railway Historical Society (Victorian Division). 
  6. ^ "News". Newsrail. Australian Railway Historical Society (Victorian Division). November 2005. 
  7. ^ Peter Attenborough (June 2006). "V/Line Passenger". Australian Model Railway Magazine. pp. 26–29. 
  8. ^ "Vivsig - Geelong Line -Regional Fast Rail". Vicsig. Retrieved 17 November 2008. 
  9. ^ Trains in Victoria Volume 5 (DVD)
  10. ^ "SRHC Blue Train - Seymour to Camperdown". Seymour Railway Heritage Centre. Retrieved 17 November 2008. 
  11. ^ "Miscellaneous VIC sightings (Steamrail Bendigo Cup charter)". Railpage Australia Forums (Victoria). www.railpage.com.au. 12 November 2008. Retrieved 17 November 2008. 
  12. ^ "Network Service Plan - Addenda" (PDF). V/Line ~ Network Access Information Pack. www.vline.com.au. 23 May 2008. Retrieved 17 November 2008. 
  13. ^ Railmac Publications (1992). Australian Fleetbooks: V/Line locomotives. Kitchner Press. ISBN 0-949817-76-7. 
  14. ^ Oberg, Leon (2007). Locomotives of Australia: 1850s - 2007. Rosenberg Publishing. p. 411. ISBN 1877058548. 
  15. ^ "Rollingstock". Newsrail. Australian Railway Historical Society (Victorian Division). June 1987. p. 181. 
  16. ^ N Class Railpage
  17. ^ N Class Vicsig

External links[edit]

Media related to V/Line N class at Wikimedia Commons