Victorian Railways S class (diesel)

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Victorian Railways S class
Preserved S303 at the Seymour Railway Heritage Centre in October 2007
Type and origin
Power type Diesel-electric
Builder Clyde Engineering, Granville

A7 (first order)

A16C (second order)
Build date 1957-1961
Total produced 18
UIC class Co-Co
Gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in),
1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in)
Length 18.72 metres (61 ft 5 in)
Loco weight 116 tonnes (114 long tons; 128 short tons)
Fuel type Diesel
Prime mover Electro-Motive Diesel 16-567C
Engine type V16
Generator Electro-Motive Diesel D12/D22
Traction motors Electro-Motive Diesel D27/D37/D47
Cylinders 16
Performance figures
Maximum speed 133 km/h (83 mph)
Power output 1,350 kW (1,810 hp)
Operators Victorian Railways
Number in class 18
Numbers S300-S317
First run 1957
Preserved S303, S308, S310, S313
Current owner CFCL Australia
Pacific National
Southern Shorthaul Railroad
Disposition 6 in service, 4 preserved, 2 stored, 6 scrapped

The S class are a class of diesel locomotives built by Clyde Engineering, Granville for the Victorian Railways between 1957 and 1961.


West Coast Railway liveried S302 in 2001
Pacific National liveried S307 at Newport Workshops in March 2008
Steamrail Victoria's S313 at Newport Workshops in 8 March 2010

The S class was based on the Electro-Motive Diesel F7 design and were very similar to the GM12 class then being built by Clyde Engineering for the Commonwealth Railways. They were mechanically similar to the 1952 built double ended B class.

The first order for 10 locomotives, were progressively delivered between August 1957 and February 1958. The first four took the names and numbers of the recently scrapped S class steam locomotives, with all being named after prominent Victorians. An additional eight locomotives were ordered for use on the new North East standard gauge line and delivered between November 1960 and December 1961.[1][2]

The class were initially used on express passenger trains such as the Intercapital Daylight, Southern Aurora, Spirit of Progress and The Overland, but were also used on fast freights. On the broad gauge they often operated in pairs, while on the standard gauge they usually ran solo.[3] A second 'hostlers' cab was provided at the number two end, but was only used around depots, or to haul empty carriages short distances.[3]

In February 1969 two were destroyed in the Violet Town railway disaster, and were deemed uneconomical to repair and scrapped.[4] In January 1967 S317 was badly damaged in a head-on collision with X33 south of Broadford Loop and was returned to Clyde Engineering for rebuilding.[1] In June 1982 S317 was again involved in a fatal accident when it ran into the rear of the Spirit of Progress at Barnawartha, killing the crew.[3]

As more modern locomotives were introduced, those on the standard gauge moved to the broad gauge.[4][5] Examples would periodically appear on the standard gauge.

Withdrawals commenced in the May 1987. In February 1994 four were sold to West Coast Railway for use on their Melbourne to Warrnambool passenger service.[6] By April 1999 only four remained in the V/Line fleet and even these were only used during periods of high demand.[7] A few have been preserved.

Privatisation brought an upturn in the class' fortunes with some overhauled and as at May 2014 remain in service with CFCL Australia, Pacific National, RailPower and Southern Shorthaul Railroad.[8][9]

Fleet status[edit]

Locomotive Serial no Name Entered service Withdrawn Scrapped Status Owner
First Order
S300 57-164 Matthew Flinders 21 Aug 1957 In service CFCL Australia
S301 57-165 Sir Thomas Mitchell 4 Sep 1957 Stored Pacific National
S302 57-166 Edward Henty 18 Sep 1957 In service Southern Shorthaul Railroad
S303 57-167 C J La Trobe 30 Sep 1957 Jul 1988 Preserved - Operational Seymour Railway Heritage Centre
S304 57-168 George Bass 15 Oct 1957 May 1987 Mar 1992 Scrapped
S305 57-169 Hamilton Hume 4 Nov 1957 2 Dec 1985 Feb 1991 Scrapped
S306 57-170 John Batman 25 Nov 1957 Stored Pacific National
S307 57-171 John Pascoe Fawkner 10 Dec 1957 In service Pacific National
S308 58-179 Sir Redmond Barry 20 Jan 1958 25 Jul 1988 Preserved - Static Australian Railway Historical Society
S309 58-182 William Lonsdale 24 Feb 1958 19 Jul 1988 1996 Scrapped
Second Order
S310 60-227 George Higinbotham 25 Nov 1960 Under Overhaul Seymour Railway Heritage Centre
S311 60-228 Sir Ferdinand von Mueller 16 Nov 1960 In service CFCL Australia
S312 60-229 Peter Lalor 27 Jan 1961 In service RailPower
S313 61-230 Alfred Deakin 24 Feb 1961 14 Dec 1994 Preserved - Operational Steamrail Victoria
S314 61-231 Sir John O'Shanassy 20 Apr 1961 7 Feb 1969 7 Feb 1969 Scrapped destroyed Violet Town railway disaster
S315 61-238 Sir Charles Gavan Duffy 16 Oct 1961 23 Aug 1988 Apr 1992 Scrapped
S316 61-239 Sir Andrew Clarke 10 Nov 1961 7 Feb 1969 7 Feb 1969 Scrapped destroyed Violet Town railway disaster
S317 61-240 Sir John Monash 7 Dec 1961 In service Southern Shorthaul Railroad

Model Railways[edit]

HO scale[edit]

The S Class was one of the first plastic, ready-to-run model railway locomotives made specifically to cater to the Victorian market. An initial release by Lima in 1976 recycled their 44 Class body shell with a paint scheme roughly resembling that of the Victorian Railways.[10]

In 1977, Hornby modified their B/L Class design to create their approximation of the S Class engine, this time with the rounded bulldog nose. The model, which was marketed through 1977-1978, was released as either S311 or S315 with product code R.317.[11][12][13] The model utilised the then-standard Silver Seal Ringfield motor, and around 12,000 units were produced, mostly in sets.[14]

To compete with the Hornby model, Lima invested in a proper body mould for the S Class design, released in 1981 as S302 and S315.[15] This model was re-released on multiple occasions, and eventually in V/line orange (S310) and West Coast Railway blue (S302).[16][17][18][19][20] With more accurate models being released in the decades since, original Lima models are regularly repurposed as parts donors or for merging into fictional engines, i.e. a non-driving "SB" class.

In October of 1991, VR Models released a series of name and number plates which could be used on any of the earlier releases.[21]

Also in the early 90's, Precision Scale Models imported a range of VR Blue and V/Line orange brass locomotives.

Finally, in November of 2009, TrainOrama released a modern-quality take on the S Class locomotive. The engine featured a five-pole skew-wound motor, pickup from all wheels (and all powered), and no rubber tyres; twin flywheels; directional headlights and marker lights, and a range of other details.[22] Engines were sold individually, with an RRP of $285.00.

The first batch included models of S300, S301, S303, S306, S308, S311, S312, S313, S315 and S317 in VR Blue, S309 and S310 in V/Line Orange, and S303 in Freight Australia Green. Some of the blue engines were in the earlier format, with fuel tank valences and nose doors; others had the valences removed and the nose doors welded shut.

In mid-2016, Bobs Hobbies, now the owner of TrainOrama, announced a re-release of the S Class engines, with new numbers. The price rose to $295.00 per unit, and the range now includes S304, S305 and S313 in blue and S308 and S312 in orange.[23]

To date, no models have been released of S307, S314, or S316.

N Scale[edit]

In 1984, Weico released a kit that could be used to construct either a NSW 42 Class or VR S Class locomotive.[24]


  1. ^ a b Ian Weickhardt (March–April 1979). "VR 'S' class diesel electric locomotive". Australian Model Railway Magazine: 34–36. 
  2. ^ Oberg, Leon (1984). Locomotives of Australia 1850s - 1980s. Frenchs Forest: Reed Books. pp. 196–197. ISBN 0 730100 05 7. 
  3. ^ a b c S class diesel electric locomotives Mark Bau's VR website
  4. ^ a b Railmac Publications (1992). Australian Fleetbooks: V/Line locomotives. Kitchner Press. ISBN 0-949817-76-7. 
  5. ^ Oberg, Leon (1980). Diesel Locomotives of Australia. Sydney: AH & AW Reed. p. 286. ISBN 0 589 50211 5. 
  6. ^ Peter Attenborough (February 2004). "West Coast Railway". Australian Model Railway Magazine: 32–34. 
  7. ^ "The Last of the Bulldogs" Railway Digest April 1999 page 40
  8. ^ S Class Railpage
  9. ^ S Class Vicsig
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Further reading[edit]

  • Peter Bermingham (1995). The A7 era : the technical, pictorial and evolutionary history of the Victorian Railway's S Class diesel-electric locomotive. Horsepower Histories. ISBN 0-646-25614-9. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Victorian Railways S class diesel locomotives at Wikimedia Commons