Ntc 721 - Diesel Trailer Car | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Ntc 721 - Diesel Trailer Car

Item details

Name of item: Ntc 721 - Diesel Trailer Car
Type of item: Movable / Collection
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Locomotives & Rolling Stock
Primary address: Rail Motor Society Museum, Paterson, Paterson, NSW 2421
Local govt. area: Dungog
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Rail Motor Society Museum, PatersonPatersonDungog  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

Diesel Trailer Car NTC 721 has heritage significance as the two-car set 621/721 was among the first railcars built specifically for suburban duties, particularly in the Newcastle suburban area, replacing steam-hauled suburban end platform timber bodied rolling stock. 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 Trailer Car NTC 721 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: 16 Dec 09
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


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.

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.

As built, these cars seated 56 passengers in two separate cabins separated by a centre aisle. 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.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Operational Status: Operational
General Condition: Moderate Condition
External Condition: Moderate Condition
Internal Condition: Moderate Condition

Body in good condition. All paintwork is in poor condition from wear and tear and lack of regular workshop attention. Being built mainly of aluminium, there is no rust or corrosion evident from a visual inspection. The car is trafficable but an electrical fault apparently sets off the fire extinguishers. Wheels vary from moderate to poor. Bogies were overhauled in March and November, 2006.

Floors in moderate condition. Upholstery on most of the car is in moderate 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 - 2TE bogies changed to 2TG bogies.
1970 - Gas heaters fitted. Altered from all second class to composite first and second class. Seating capacity reduced by two to permit installation of gas bottle cupboard.
1998 - Window bars fitted to car.
Current use: NSW Government Railways Collection
Former use: Diesel Trailer Car


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 Trailer Car NTC 723 was originally coded NTF 723 and provided economy class seating for 56 people, being based exclusively in the Newcastle suburban area. Between 1969 and 1971 all NTF cars were converted to the NTC (composite first/economy) layout with seating being provided for either 26 first and 28 economy or 14 first and 40 economy, 12 seats being available for either first or economy travel. When used wholly within the Newcastle or Wollongong areas seating was labelled for economy passengers only. A seat for the guard was originally provided for in the area opposite the driver's cabin on the right hand side of the car, prior to the removal of the guard into the luggage area provided in the motor 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 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-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Diesel Trailer Car NTC 721 has a low level of historical significance. 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 Trailer Car NTC 721 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 Trailer Car NTC 721 has a high level of low 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 Trailer Car NTC 721 has a high level of moderate significance. The 720-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.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Diesel Trailer Car NTC 721 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 Trailer Car NTC 721 has a moderate level of research significance. The car 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)
Diesel Trailer Car NTC 721 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)
Diesel Trailer Car NTC 721 is an good representative example of a mid-twentieth century diesel trailer 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 Trailer Car NTC 721 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.


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

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
S170 Rolling Stock Review2009 NSW Department of Commerce  Yes
SRA Heritage Rolling Stock Assessment2000    No

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.

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

(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: State Government
Database number: 4807190

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