History of the ATN Tasrail DQ, D, QR and DC class diesel locomotives.


DQ class

After the sale of A.N Tasrail to Australian Transport Network in November 1997 (a joint venture with New Zealand’s Tranz Rail and American railroad company Wisconsin Central) it wasn’t long before American owner Ed Burkhardt announced that a new fleet of locomotives would be introduced to replace the English Electric fleet.

In September 1998 two locomotives arrived at Bell Bay, having being shipped from New Zealand. They were the ex Queensland Railways 1502 class, built by Clyde Engineering in 1967 and purchased in 1996 by Tranz Rail for operation in New Zealand. The two locomotives had underwent a rebuild program at the Hutt Workshops in New Zealand which included new Driver Only cabs, overhauled EMD 645 engines, ZTR traction control and a Kaitiaki vigilance system. The locomotives were also fitted with a dynamic brake grid which was positioned below the radiators, but this proved an unsuccessful design and locomotives would overheat when in dynamic brake mode.  A further two 1502 class and eight 1460 class locomotives were also rebuilt and progressively entered service with ATN Tasrail. The DQ class were numbered 2001 to 2012 respectively.

In Tasmanian service the locomotives have been plagued with main generator failures, caused mainly through oil leaks which has seen locomotives out of service for long periods. After an engine failure in the year 2006, locomotive 2001 was sent to Melbourne in what was going to be a prototype rebuild, however this did not progress any further than stripping.  After languishing in Melbourne for a number of years, it returned to Tasmania in the year 2010 and re-entered service as a standard DQ in the newly government owned TASRAIL yellow and grey livery.

Since the delivery of the TR class in 2014, some DQ’s have been removed from service with the remaining locomotives mainly used on the Melba Line and Tippler duties. In the year 2020, locomotive 2007 was converted into a driving van for future use on the cement train and has been seen in use on the Bell Bay intermodal services. The remaining serviceable DQ’s are now in need of a major overhaul.

To read more history of the DQ class locomotives in Tasmania, then Click here.

D class

Five D class locomotives were ordered by the Western Australian Government Railways to haul bauxite services in 1971.  Fitted with a high nose which housed the dynamic brake grid, the locomotives weighed 111 tons.

In August 1998, D1564-65 were sold to Tranz Rail in New Zealand and were rebuilt with new Driver Only (DOO) cabs at Hutt Workshops. The cabs were based on the DXR cab design previously completed by Tranz Rail. This resulted in the electrical cabinet and dynamic brake being relocated behind the drivers cab.

Both locomotives were painted in the Wisconsin Central Maroon livery and renumbered 2020 and 2021. They arrived on Tasmania in June 2001 where further work was undertaken at the East Tamar Workshops in Launceston in the way of fitting English Electric 548 traction motors (instead of the original EMD traction motors). This proved to be poor decision, with constant traction motor failures and by 2009 they were replaced with second hand EMD traction motors.

Both locomotives were stored in mid 2014 with the introduction of the TR class. In May 2015 both locomotives were shipped to Bendigo (Victoria) for overhaul and in January 2018 delivered to Perth, Western Australia for their new owner Watco.


QR class

The QR class were built by Clyde Engineering between 1965 and 1966 as Queensland Rail’s 1460 class locomotives. They were purchased by Tranz Rail in 1995 to be rebuilt as a cheaper alternative to buying new locomotives.  Three of the QR class were leased to ATN Tasrail and were shipped to Tasmania in 1998 to accompany the second batch of DQ class locomotives. Numbered 2056, 2062 and 2102,  all were painted in the then standard Tranz Rail (New Zealand Railways) blue and yellow livery. They were eventually purchased outright by ATN Tasrail.

The three QR class were used as slave units (middle unit operation) with the DQ, D, ZP/ZR and MKA locomotives.  Due to the lack of radios and crew comforts they were not used as lead units, however there are a few instances of them being driven on light engine transfers or in shunt yards. As the mechanical conditions deteriorated they were progressively withdrawn from service, with 2062 being the last operational QR class and spent the later years of service predominately on the Melba Line.


DC class

DC4588 was originally built by General Motors in Canada in 1964 for the New Zealand Railways as DA1489. It was rebuilt by Clyde Engineering in Australia during 1980 and became DC4588 and then operated back in New Zealand until it was shipped to Tasmania in 1998.  The locomotive was Driver Only compatible, however the cab design and layout was unpopular with crews and the forward vision was less than ideal compared to the DQ or D class.  A key difference was that it was only fitted with 4 traction motors, resulting in less tractive effort (pulling power) and a smaller fuel tank.

4588 suffered a major engine failure after a conrod penetrated the crankcase and this initiated a rebuild of the locomotive. This saw the cab modified with a lower nose for improved forward visibility and a forward cab entry door and on completion it was intended for use on the Cement Train. However, part way through the rebuild of the locomotive the program was cancelled and the locomotive was eventually scrapped.


To read more history about the D, QR and DC class, then Click here.