W44 Concentrate Train
In August 1961, the Sulphide Corporation opened a new smelter based on the Imperial Smelting Process. The plant used high grade concentrates from the mines at Broken Hill and as they were owned by the same controlling interests these came from the Zinc Corporation and New Broken Hill Consolidated Mines.
To haul the concentrates the New South Wales Government Railways modified 80 G class open wagons by permanently closing the bottom discharge doors to form the GC wagon. These were run in block trains of 16 wagons making a load of 1,020 long tons (1,040 t). These were hauled by a single 49 class diesel locomotive from Broken Hill to Parkes, the loading being 200 tons greater than the maximum allowed for the 49 class. At Parkes a 36 class and AD60 class Garratt took over for the journey to Molong where the 36 was replaced by another AD60 for the journey to Lithgow. A 46 class electric locomotive took the train from Lithgow to Gosford (the then limit of electrification) where another AD60 would take over to Sulphide Junction.
The rail link to the smelter was an important change in the pattern of transporting concentrates from Broken Hill as previously they had gone by sea to Cockle Creek. In the 1970s changes to the smelter allowed lower grade material to be used which was sourced from other mines and the running of W44 declined along with the scrapping of the steam locomotives. The smelter itself ceased operations in 2003.
The combination of heavy freight engines and the running times of the train, daylight through spectacular scenery, made the W44 Concentrate train a popular photographic target by railfans documenting the last phase of steam engine use of the New South Wales Government Railways.
- "The Concentrate Train" Roundhouse July 1985 pages 4-48