History of the A.N Tasrail 830, ZB, ZC, ZP and ZR class diesel locomotives.


830 class

Built for the South Australian Railways from 1959, the forty-five 830 class locos were used on all three gauges in South Australia. After the grouping of the Tasmanian, Northern Territory and South Australian railways under common Commonwealth control, twenty 830 class locomotives were delivered to Tasmania as part of a modernisation and air-brake plan.

As the first air-braked locos in the state, the 830 class initially worked log and coal trains, before the operating on more general freight services as more air-brake wagons came on line. The first pair of locos, 858 and 865 entered service in Tasmanian in April 1980. Another two entered service later in the year, and by early 1982 a total of thirteen locos were in service, having been delivered gradually over the period. Between late 1983 and August 1986 the remaining locomotives entered service. With the introduction of the ZC class, this saw the withdrawal of most of the 830 class locomotives in April 1989, leaving just 852, 866 and 875 in service in the Hobart and Derwent Valley areas. 866 was badly damaged in a level crossing accident at Wrights Avenue, Glenorchy and was withdrawn from service in late 1990, but the other two locos survived until the end of Derwent Valley freight services. Some locos returned to the mainland and still see use today, but many were scrapped in Launceston and Bell Bay.  866 was purchased privately has been restored at the Don River Railway with parts from 834.

To read more history of each 830 class locomotive that operated in Tasmania, then Click here.

ZB class

Sixteen 2350 and 2370 class locomotives were built at the Rocklea factory in Queensland from 1973 and were used for coal haulage on the Queensland Railways. The major differences between the two classes was a single driving position in the later group of four 2370 locomotives. Following mainline electrification in Queensland, both classes of locomotives became surplus to requirements and were sold to A.N Tasrail and were gradually shipped to Tasmania between 1987 and 1988. They were then classed ZB, and renumbered in the same order as their original Queensland numbers.  The ZB class were able to be used in multiple with the older ZC class locomotives when these locomotives were also purchased from Queensland.

Some locomotives ran in the Queensland blue and white colours for up to five years before being repainted in the A.N livery, however ZB12 received the “reverse’ yellow and green livery in 1992. ZB9 and ZB6 were been rebuilt to ZR/ZP class in 1996/97.  From June 1998, all the operational ZB locomotives were renumbered to the 2120 series. 2122 and 2123 were modified with dual controls to allow the locomotives to be driven in either direction, with 2122 being used on the Bell Bay service until freight volumes increased which required two locomotives. 2123 saw some limited use on the Cement Train. The remaining locomotives were withdrawn from service in the first half of 2014.

In 2002, three operational locomotives and one non-operational locomotive were sold to South Spur Rail in Perth, Western Australia.  After much use they were scrapped in May 2016.

2122 was donated to Diesel Traction Tasmania /LNER but in the year 2021 it was swapped for 2123 and is waiting to be transported to Tuners Marsh, just North of Launceston.

To read more history of each ZB class locomotive that operated in Tasmania, then Click here

ZC class

Forty-five 1300 class locomotives were built for the Queensland Railways from 1967 at the Rocklea factory. After the mainline was electrified the 1300 class became surplus to requirements and in 1988 all locomotives were sold to A.N Tasrail and shipped to Tasmania in three batches and were reclassified as the ZC class. Some of the locomotives never entered service in Tasmania and were not renumbered, and some that did only had very short working careers. ZC class could also operate in multiple unit with the ZB class. The ZC class also operated the Railton to Devonport Cement Train up until the introduction of the Remote Control system which saw a DQ class the Driving Van (DV1) take over the service.

Eight of the class were sold to Morrison Knudsen in South Australia for rebuilding as MKA class locomotives (see MKA class). Locomotives 2142, 2143 and ZC32 were sold in 2001 to Leisure Rail WA Ltd, which intended to run a tourist train service in Western Australia. The three locos were towed to the Don River Railway for storage, although two (2142, 2143) were later on sold following the collapse of the project and sent to Victoria in mid-December 2004 for overhaul and modification prior to being shipped to Senegal. ZC32 was been progressively stripped, and eventually scrapped.

By November 2004 all remaining ZC class locomotives were out of service and were stored at East Tamar, with parts used for the MKA class that were purchased by Pacific National Tasmania.  2144 is the sole survivor having been donated to Diesel Traction Tasmania / LNER in 2011 and is currently waiting transport to Tuners Marsh just north of Launceston.

Individual locomotive information coming soon!


Following the rebuilding of the ZC class locomotives into the MKA class by Morrison Knudsen Australia, the Australian National Railways workshops at Port Augusta undertook a rebuild of ZB9.  It arrived back in Tasmania 1996 as ZR1 having been rewired and new cab with sloping nose, desktop controls and 4 pipe air brake system. ZR1 took centre stage at the workshops open day to celebrate 125 years or railways in Tasmania in April 1996. ZR1 initially suffered many problems, firstly with engine faults and then traction motor issues and being the only locomotive of its type meant that ZR1 could not run in multiple with other locomotives. It was renumbered ZP1 in August 1997.


The conversion of ZB6 was completed in July 1997 by the A.N Tasrail Workshops at East Tamar in Launceston. The appearance of the locomotive differed greatly to that of ZR1 in several respects, most noticeably in cab and nose design and in the type of train brake equipment used, with 26L being used and only a desktop throttle and reverser. Being left hand drive, this resulted in the brake valves and handles being operated in reverse to those in the right hand drive ZB locomotives. ZR2 was named Audrey Mills, in recognition of the long term that Ms Mills served as Tasmanian representative on the Australian National Railways Commission.

After the conversion of ZB6 to ZR2, the pair worked the Paper Train between Burnie and Boyer for several years. However, with only two locomotives being able to operate together it meant that if one locomotive failed then the other was unable to be used as well. In June 1998, ZP1 and ZR2 were renumbered 2100 and 2101 respectively and in October 1999, the braking systems were modified to 3 pipe to allow multiple-unit operation with the newly arrived D, DQ, DC and QR type locomotives.

To read more history of the ZP and ZR class, then Click here.