Z - Rail Car, Ntc 723 Diesel Trailer Car | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Z - Rail Car, Ntc 723 Diesel Trailer Car

Item details

Name of item: Z - Rail Car, Ntc 723 Diesel Trailer Car
Primary address: , Not Listed, NSW
Local govt. area: Unknown
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
 Not ListedUnknown  Primary Address
 NewcastleNewcastle  Alternate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

FEB 2014 - Duplicate entry, not managed by Sydney Trains. Removed from intranet
Date significance updated: 05 Feb 14
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.


Physical description: (Ian Brady):
This car was planned to accommodate either 26 first class and 28 second class passengers, or alternatively, 14 first and 40 second class passengers. Subsequently, all have been converted to economy class as their use was wholly within the Newcastle suburban area where first class travel was not offered. In this configuration they have 54 seats.

Toilets for Ladies and Men are located between the two passenger compartments. An air-pressure water-tank under the floor served these. The bogie type as delivered was known as 2TE.

A similar qualification exists on this car as to its motor, No. 623, as both probably have Class II and III skidded wheels (ie, serious damage). Visual inspection of the wheels shows that there is a good amount of tread remaining on the wheels.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
(Ian Brady):
The six remaining 620-720 class units still on Cityrail property were visually inspected by me at the Broadmeadow Maintenance Centre on 19th April. This did not extend to a detailed body or mechanical inspection as I am not qualified to do so. However, it is evident that the bodies of the remaining units are in a quite good condition for their age and lack of maintenance. Ease in opening and closing of carriage doors is regarded as an indication of carriage body integrity and all cars were excellent in that respect.

These vehicles were built with stressed outer skins and there was always a concern that, if rivets holding this external skin to the structure failed, the body would sag. I was informed that it was a regular practice, when the vehicles were in workshops, for close attention to be given to the condition of these rivets, which occurred when the car bodies were stripped of paint. Loose rivets tended to break the paint seal and this was an early warning that attention needed to be taken. There was little evidence of this having occurred to these cars but I did not scrape from their exteriors to check this.

The manager of the Broadmeadow Maintenance Centre told me that when unit 628-728 was withdrawn in 2002, following a serious accident at Hexham, its bodies and underframe were examined so as to provide confidence in the continued use of the units. That unit was found to be in a reasonably good condition in this respect.

The floors were in reasonable condition considering the age of the cars and no access hatches to equipment appeared to be unsafe. Where windows had been left open and rain had entered the interior, the floors of some units have been repaired with unpainted plywood.

The GM, Rolls Royce and current Cummins engines, as well as the Voith transmissions, have all performed well, reflecting the level of maintenance given over their lives.

All cars are now painted in a three-colour livery of light grey on the body with dark blue surrounding the windows, while the roof was of a darker grey. A section across the outer ends of the units is painted yellow for visibility purposes. 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.
Some units are no longer coupled in numerical sequence, ie 62x-72x. This has been so as to keep the present two units available for passenger traffic. The condition of the units at the depot was as follows:

623-723 Not trafficable as all wheels have Class II & Class II (serious) skids due to driver error; wheel conditions half life, last bogie overhaul, October, 2006.

Upholstery on most of the cars is poor. This ranges from where seats give good support with covering in good condition, to those with rips, or tears, or arms rests missing; to situations where rows of seats or parts of seats have been removed to keep other cars trafficable. The depot Manager indicated that keeping the two present trafficable units available was only possible by swapping parts from those units which are no longer trafficable.
Date condition updated:12 Feb 09


Historical notes: (Ian Brady):
In the late 1950s, funding for the NSW railways was directed mainly towards handling rapidly developing freight traffic and long-distance passenger services. 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. These were introduced from October, 1961 and were known as the 620-class, Nos 621/721-627/727.

Up to this time, the NSW Railways had provided steam hauled services on the privately owned South Maitland Railways Ltd. line from Maitland and Cessnock. From October, 1961, this company elected to operate its own passenger services and bought new railcars for the service. The NSW Railways then saw an opportunity to re-organise its own services and placed another order with the Chullora Workshops for four more 2-car diesel units to complete the equipment of the Newcastle area, numbered 628/728 to 631/731.

Further stages in the ‘dieselisation’ of passenger services in NSW on other lines were achieved by building units similar to the Newcastle two-car units from 1964 to 1968 for services on lines such as Goulburn, Werris Creek and Kempsey. Later, these were used in the Sydney and Illawarra suburban areas and were numbered up to 638/738.

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 next stage in the development of two-car diesel trains for local services was the introduction of fifteen two-car air-conditioned ‘Endeavour’ units for Cityrail. Some of these units were delivered to Newcastle in 1994 and remain there. Others are found on services between Sydney and Nowra, Moss Vale and Goulburn. A similar vehicle named the ‘Explorer’ is used by Countrylink.

The 620-class units were scheduled for replacement by new railcars to be known as the ‘Hunter’ type a few years ago. This programme has suffered delays, which resulted in the older units being kept in use. Of the six 620-class units now at Newcastle, only two are now trafficable with four being stopped and stored for various maintenance reasons. No scheduled workshop attention has been given to them for some years, so, consequently, all are in a poor condition. Maintenance has been restricted to whatever is necessary for them to be safely used in traffic and thus, they do not present a good image to passengers, especially in their interiors.

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
(Ian Brady):
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. They are the only carriages built for the NSW Railways at the Chullora Workshops.

The 620-class unit design follows that of the earlier 600-class units which were built for fast and comfortable services on country branches and other areas of the NSW railway system where the use of a steam engine with carriages was not economical. Many of the fittings in these cars were manufactured locally. The engines and transmissions have been sourced from the USA, United Kingdom and Germany.

These 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 developed at the Chullora Rolling-stock Workshops following its experience in building aircraft during World War 2. It was also used by US railway vehicle builders as early as the 1840s.

The 620-class units being reviewed comprise a sub-group of eleven units which were built solely to work on the Newcastle suburban area replacing steam operated services and have always worked in that area. Another group of seven similar units were later built for services in other parts of the NSW railway system
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
(Ian Brady):
The cars were built for economy and utility for Newcastle suburban services. Their original appearance painted in Tuscan Red with two parallel buff lines had considerable appeal at the time the car was built. The smooth sided aluminium body was a change from rivets and wood used in carriages to that time.

The cars’ frame is unseen as the external aluminium sheathing covers it and other working parts with a style representative of the time they were built.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
(Ian Brady):
These units were part of plans by the NSW Railways to replace trains which were worked by steam engines hauling rakes of carriages up to seventy years old. They represented a considerable change for Newcastle travellers from 1961. Their wider range of travel enabled services to be offered to Hunter Valley towns such as Dungog, Singleton and Scone. They have been used only on these services which in the case of Nos. 621-721 extends to 46 years.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
(Ian Brady):
The design of these units was quite a bold change from traditional carriage design to this time for the NSW Railways. Being a utilitarian vehicle did not prevent the inclusion of many features such as turnover seats facing the direction of travel and doors to enclose the passenger accommodation from cold weather. All were fitted with gas heating during their lives..

The frames of the cars, which are hidden from view, consist of two steel Pratt trusses linked under the floor by strong, steel beams. The outer surfaces comprised stressed aluminium sheathing attached to these trusses and also sheathed internally with aluminium or duralumin.

This 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 was to be adopted for all railway rolling stock built today.
The diesel engines and transmission for the power cars to drive these units is carried entirely under the floor is unseen by passengers. External and internal paints used were utilitarian but long-lasting. The cars have two vestibules for entry and exit. The windows are lifted by catches above the sill.

The construction of these cars was a notable step in the development of self-propelled diesel units on the NSW Railways. Present-day carriages owe much to the designers of these units, which was cutting-edge technology at the time.
SHR Criteria f)
(Ian Brady):
Of fifty-six carriages built for the fleet of non-airconditioned two-car diesel units, the only ones remaining on the NSW railway system, are those in the Newcastle area. Most of the original twenty-four cars built for the Newcastle area serve 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 exclusivety.
SHR Criteria g)
(Ian Brady):
From 1949 to 1968, the NSW Railways Chullora Workshops built 89 cars in a series of two, three and four-car diesel trains. Over this period, the system introduced about 500 vehicles for interurban, main-line and country services numbering about 500 including multiple-unit electric trains. Apart from the double-deck electric trains, all other vehicles have been withdrawn. Apart from these remaining twelve cars based in Newcastle, all other have been withdrawn and scrapped.
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.

Recommended management:

1. Conservation principles: Conserve cultural heritage significance and minimise impacts on heritage values and fabric in accordance with the ‘Australia ICOMOS Charter for Places of Cultural Significance’. 2. Specialist advice: Seek advice from a qualified heritage specialist during all phases of a proposed project from feasibility, concept and option planning stage; detailed design; heritage approval and assessment; through to construction and finalisation. 3. Documentation: Prepare a Statement of Heritage Impact (SOHI) to assess, minimise and prevent heritage impacts as part of the assessment and approval phase of a project. Prepare a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) prior to proposing major works (such as new additions, change of use or proposed demolition) at all places of State significance and all complex sites of Local significance. 4. Maintenance and repair: Undertake annual inspections and proactive routine maintenance works to conserve heritage fabric in accordance with the ‘Minimum Standards of Maintenance & Repair’. 5. Movable heritage: Retain in situ and care for historic contents, fixtures, fittings, equipment and objects which contribute to cultural heritage significance. Return or reinstate missing features or relocated items where opportunities arise. 6. Aboriginal, archaeology and natural heritage: Consider all aspects of potential heritage significance as part of assessing and minimising potential impacts, including Aboriginal, archaeology and natural heritage. 7. Unidentified heritage items: Heritage inventory sheets do not describe or capture all contributory heritage items within an identified curtilage (such as minor buildings, structures, archaeology, landscape elements, movable heritage and significant interiors and finishes). Ensure heritage advice is sought on all proposed changes within a curtilage to conserve heritage significance. 8. Recording and register update: Record changes at heritage places through adequate project records and archival photography. Notify all changes to the Section 170 Heritage & Conservation Register administrator upon project completion.


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

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Heritage Platforms Conservation Management Strategy2015 Australian Museum Consulting  Yes
Heritage Platforms Conservation Management Strategy2015 Australian Museum Consulting  Yes

References, internet links & images


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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: State Government
Database number: 4807192

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