Heritage

Npf 623 - Diesel Power Car

Item details

Name of item: Npf 623 - Diesel Power Car
Type of item: Movable / Collection
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Locomotives & Rolling Stock
Primary address: Thirlmere Railway Precinct, Thirlmere, NSW 2572
Local govt. area: Wollondilly
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Thirlmere Railway PrecinctThirlmereWollondilly  Primary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

Diesel Power Car NPF 623 has heritage significance as part of the two-car set 623/723 that was the first railcar built specifically for suburban duties, particularly in the Newcastle suburban area, replacing steam-hauled suburban end platform timber bodied rolling stock. The 620-class units comprise a sub-group of eleven units that were built solely to work on the Newcastle suburban area replacing steam operated services. The vehicle is a good example of mid-twentieth century carriage design, with evidence of the change to a riveted aluminium body construction and a streamlined appearance with clearly American influences, employing internal Pratt trusses covered by stressed aluminium sheeting for the external and internal sheathing of the cars. The car has the potential to reveal information regarding the early application of aircraft technology. Diesel Power Car NPF 623 is rare as one of the original cars built for the Newcastle area and that served only that area. These cars also have rarity significance as they were among the last NSWGR designed and built railcars to remain in service.
Date significance updated: 13 Nov 09
Note: There are incomplete details for a number of items listed in NSW. The Heritage Branch intends to develop or upgrade statements of significance and other information for these items as resources become available.

Description

Designer/Maker: New South Wales Government Railways
Builder/Maker: New South Wales Government Railways (Chullora Rolling Stock Workshops)
Physical description: The power cars were coded and numbered NPF 621-631 and the trailers, NTC 721-731. The two cars usually work together as a pair with numbers as delivered, ie, 623-723, etc. but can be coupled with any other car when required for maintenance purposes.

EXTERNAL
The railcar is clad in aluminium. The front is rounded and as such provides the final development of the shaped end first used by E.E. Lucy in 1913 on the timber bodied cars for long distance express services. Prominent above the centre door at the front is a sealed beam headlight, while cow-catchers below the couplings maintain the semi-circular front of the car. The front windows were originally flush with the body, but safety glass, installed in the 1980s, has meant that the windows now stand proud of the front. Passenger safety was further increased in the late 1990s when bars were placed at elbow level along the windows. The external appearance is of a smooth surface of painted aluminium folding down slightly at the bottom to partly cover the bogies. The area around the access steps for these below the floor is made from moulded fibreglass. The door at the driving end is located behind the drivers’ cabin. There are 14 windows along each side of the passenger saloons, plus entrance/exit doors at the ends of the cars.

INTERNAL
The engine exhaust and equipment cabinets divide NPF 623 into two separate passenger areas. The driver’s cabin was located in the left hand corner at the front of the car. As built, these cars seated 56 passengers in two saloons, each of which has seven rows of four seats separated by a centre aisle. There are no toilets in this car and the space in the centre is for air intakes for the engine radiators and their exhausts. The floors as built were made up of aluminium key flooring riveted to underframe and covered with magnesite, cork, masonite and linoleum. With subsequent alterations and repairs, it would be expected that some of this may have been replaced with marine plywood.

MECHANICAL
The engines, transmissions, fuel tanks and all ancillary equipment on the NPF power cars cars is fitted under the floor. When built, they had either a Rolls-Royce or General Motors engine which developed 186kw. driving through Voith hydraulic transmission by carden-shafts to axles on an adjacent bogie. The power car weighs 37.7 tonnes loaded. The bogie type as delivered was known as 2PE.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Operational Status: Non-Operational
General Condition: Good Condition
External Condition: Good Condition
Internal Condition: Good Condition

EXTERNAL CONDITION
Diesel Power Car NPF 623 is not suitable for traffic use. In 2007, Diesel Power Car NPF 623 was classed as not trafficable as all wheels had Class II & Class II (serious) skids due to driver error, with half life on both and the last bogie overhaul occurring in October 2006.
The body is in good condition. The car is painted in a three-colour livery of light grey on the body with dark blue surrounding the windows, while the roof is of a darker grey. A section across the outer ends of the units is painted yellow for visibility purposes. All paintwork is in good condition, although suffering from wear and tear. Being built mainly of aluminium, there is no rust or corrosion evident.

INTERNAL CONDITION
The floor is in good condition. Upholstery is in good condition. All fittings are in place and in good condition.
Date condition updated:06 Nov 09
Modifications and dates: 1961 - Entered service in December as an all second class car set seating 112.
1964 - Seating reduced to 52 to allow for guard’s compartment to be installed.
1964 - 2PG bogies replaced the original 2PE bogies.
1970 - Gas heaters fitted, seating reduced to 48.
Original General Motors 6-110 diesel engines and Allison torque converter have been replaced by Cummins engine and Voith converter.
Current use: NSW Government Railways Collection
Former use: Diesel Power Car

History

Historical notes: During WW2 Beaufort bombers were manufactured at what is now Chullora Railway Rolling Stock Workshops. In April 1946, after the cessation of hostilities, the Railways took over the workshops and a number of staff who had formerly worked on aircraft construction were retained. In January 1946 approval had been given for the construction of ten two-car diesel trains, and these were some of the first rolling stock to be built at the new workshops. The new two-car units, called the 600/700 class, were non air-conditioned and were to be used on branch lines with a lower volume of traffic and it was intended that they would be able to haul a trailer.

During the late 1950s it was decided to replace steam-hauled suburban services in Newcastle with two-car diesel trains and five sets were ordered for this task. In 1959, the Railway Commissioners ordered seven new, two-car diesel trains for the Newcastle suburban services, built to a similar design as the 600-class units of 1950. The order was extended a number of times until a total of 18 of the 620 class (as the new sets were known) had entered service. These later units also replaced steam-hauled medium distance trains in various parts of the State.

The first five sets of the 620 class sub-group (621/721 - 625/725) were introduced from October 1961 and were coded DAB. They had been built for suburban working in the Newcastle area and all cars were built as economy class cars. The next four sets were to be used on the longer distance services also radiating from Newcastle and contained both first and economy class accommodation.

Diesel Power Car NPF 623 originally provided economy class seating for 56 people in rollover type seating in two saloons separated by engine exhaust compartments on either side of a centre aisle. A driver's cab was provided at the No. 1 end. Between 1964 and 1971, with the installation of gas heating and the allocation of space for luggage, the seating in all cars was reduced to 48. When built, this car was fitted with two GM 6-110 engines coupled to an Allison torque converter. Originally, PEA bogies were fitted, but these were replaced between 1963 and 1965 by PGA bogies taken from the 900 class cars.

The eleven 620-class units have provided Newcastle’s suburban rail services since 1961, supplemented from time to time by some built for the other lines, as well as some of the original 1950 units suitably converted. When built, they were painted in overall Indian Red with a narrow buff line below the windows. In the 1980s, they were painted in three pastel shades with changes in management of the system and establishment of Cityrail. More recently, about 2000, they were painted in the present scheme which is only to be seen on these units.

The 620-class units were replaced by new railcars to be known as the ‘Hunter’ type at the end of 2006.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Technology-Activities and processes associated with the knowledge or use of mechanical arts and applied sciences Creation of railway towns-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Technology-Activities and processes associated with the knowledge or use of mechanical arts and applied sciences Making gas /generating electricity-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements Railway work culture-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Railway workshops-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Diesel Power Car NPF 623 has a moderate level of historical significance as part of the 620-class comprising a sub-group of eleven units that were built solely to work on the Newcastle suburban area replacing steam operated services. These units have always worked in the Newcastle area and have formed the backbone of the suburban railway system there since 1961. Their wider range of travel enabled services to be offered to Hunter Valley towns such as Dungog, Singleton and Scone.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Based on current knowledge, Diesel Power Car NPF 623 is not known to have any special associations with people or events of significance in a local or state context. It does not have significance under this criterion.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Diesel Power Car NPF 623 has a low level of aesthetic significance. The vehicle is a good example of mid-twentieth century carriage design, with the change to a riveted aluminium body construction and a pleasing streamlined appearance with clearly American influences.

Diesel Power Car NPF 623 has a moderate level of technical significance. The 620-class units have significance with the use of internal Pratt trusses covered by stressed aluminium sheeting to form the external and internal sheathing of the cars. This form of car-building was a new concept developed by railway staff who during World War 2 were engaged in building Beaufort aircraft components at the NSW Railways’ Chullora Workshops. This was at the forefront of integral carriage-body construction which has been adopted for all railway rolling stock built today. The diesel engines and transmission for the power cars are carried entirely under the floor and are not visible by passengers.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The NPF 623 Diesel Power Car is likely to have a degree of social value for the community-based associations who have demonstrated an ongoing interest in its conservation and management. This item may also have a degree of social significance to a broader section of the community linked to its historic, aesthetic and associative values.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Diesel Power Car NPF 623 has a moderate level of research significance as it has the potential to reveal information regarding the application of aircraft technology to railway rolling stock, in particular the use of stressed aluminium sheathing and the development of integral carriage-body construction methods that have since been adopted for all railway rolling stock built today.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Diesel Power Car NPF 623 is moderately rare. Most of the original cars built for the Newcastle area served only that area and were not to be seen in any other part of the State. Very few other carriages on the NSW Railways could claim this exclusivity. The six remaining 620-class two-car diesel units belong to a group of 28 similar units built by the NSW Railways’ Chullora Workshops from 1949 to 1968, and are significant as the only carriages built for the NSW Railways at the Chullora Workshops. The cars also have rarity significance as they are among the last NSWGR designed and built railcars to remain in service.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Diesel Power Car NPF 623 is an excellent representative example of a mid-twentieth century diesel power car. It is a particularly good example of the 89 cars built by NSW Railways Chullora Workshops over an almost 20 year period, and illustrates the size and capacity of the NSW Government Railways at this time who designed and constructed their own rolling stock.
Integrity/Intactness: Diesel Power Car NPF 623 retains a high level of both integrity and intactness. This car substantially retains all the features that make it a good representative of the two-car diesel train fleet.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
SRA Heritage Rolling Stock Stage 2b Heritage Assessments2000 David Sheedy Pty Ltd Architects and Heritage Consultants  Yes
S170 Rolling Stock Review2009 NSW Department of Commerce  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenDavid Cooke1984Railmotors and XPTs
WrittenIan Brady2007The 620/720 Class, two-car Diesel Railcars, Cityrail, Newcastle,Heritage Assessment
WrittenIncospec and Associates Australia (Mark Weston)2009Inspection Report: The Rail Motor Society Inc.
WrittenNSWGR Records1980Notes from SRA record cards

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: State Government
Database number: 4807191


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