Locomotive, Diesel 4803 | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Locomotive, Diesel 4803

Item details

Name of item: Locomotive, Diesel 4803
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


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

Diesel Locomotive 4803 has heritage significance as it represents an important class of diesel-electric locomotives which dramatically changed the carriage of passengers and freight on the New South Wales Government Railways. Capitalising on an unprecedented availability for a locomotive of this power, the 48 class returned extraordinary reliability and effectiveness, becoming the standard for secondary line operations with increasing use on the mainline. This locomotive is an example of a class designed with a light axle load and used on every line in NSW. It is significant as the only diesel locomotive class to work on all main line gauges.
Date significance updated: 13 Nov 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: American Locomotive Company (ALCo), Schenectady, New York
Builder/Maker: A.E.Goodwin, St.Marys, New South Wales
Physical description: EXTERNAL
Locomotive 4803 is a Co-Co diesel-electric of hooded design with a full-width cab, displaced longitudinally off-centre. The locomotive is built around a rigid plate frame with the locomotive body being inset from each side. Access to the main engine and other machinery is through hinged panels on either side. A full width cab is fitted which is displaced off-centre to No. 1 end. An automatic coupling is fitted along with a buffing plate below each end, which display a twin-beam headlamp and two illuminated road number boxes, marker lamps and a cluster of multi-chime air horns above the cab. The locomotive is painted overall in the original Indian red, yellow and red lining livery, the road numbers also appearing on the cab sides in yellow with black undergear and bogies.

It is powered by a single 6 cylinder, turbo-charged, 4 cycle, ‘in-line’, trunk piston, compression ignition oil engine, supplied by the American Locomotive Company (ALCo). The prime mover drives a 950hp generator, coupled by switchgear to six traction motors.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Operational Status: Operational
General Condition: Good Condition
External Condition: Good Condition
Internal Condition: Good Condition

Locomotive 4803 is in good overall external condition. Paintwork is in good condition although somewhat weathered in parts and showing evidence of graffiti attack.

The locomotive is fully operational and in good condition. The cab was unable to be inspected.
Date condition updated:07 Oct 09
Modifications and dates: March 1958 - contract let and construction commenced by A.E.Goodwin under license from the American Locomotive Company (ALCo) of Schenectady, New York,
September 1959 - commenced service
1990s - placed in storage
August 1994 - withdrawn from service
1996 - reactivated during wheat harvest and subsequently withdrawn from service
Subsequently - transferred to NSW RTM & repainted in original livery of Indian red and yellow
Current use: NSW Government Railways Collection
Former use: Diesel/Electric Locomotive


Historical notes: Locomotive 4803 was built by A.E.Goodwin under license from the American Locomotive Company (ALCo) of Schenectady, New York, to the order of the New South Wales Government Railways. As part of an initial order of 20 locomotives, it represented the start of a major exercise to provide diesel-electric motive power to branch lines and country and regional depots. Following letting of the contract in March 1958, 4803 was delivered and was in service by September 1959. The first 20 were allocated to the north western region, split between Werris Creek and Casino, running to Moree and Murwillumbah respectively. Shortly after, a further order was placed with Goodwins for 10 more units with subsequent orders building the class numbers up to 45 by 1963. These locomotives were to be known as the Mk 1 units of the class. The class, when allocated to regional areas, displaced steam traction, the practice accelerating during the 1960s as additional orders were placed, with a total of 165 being built, the final locomotive entering service in October 1970. The 48 class has operated on every branch line on the system and were a powerful vindication of their initial choice and builders. The early members of the class were stored in the early 1990s only to be re-activated during the wheat harvest of 1996. Many of these were subsequently sold, yet many of the Mk2 units remain in service. Locomotive 4803 was officially withdrawn in August 1994 though it was subsequently returned to service before being transferred to the New South Wales Rail Transport Museum. It has been returned to the original livery of Indian red and yellow and is used as part of their charter fleet.

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 Shaping inland settlements-
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 Locomotive 4803 has a high level of historical significance. It is one of 165 48 class locomotives built for the NSW Railways, designed with a light axle load and was capable and did work every line in NSW. The class of locomotive is still being used for commercial operations and several (including 4803) are preserved and used on heritage locomotive hauled trains.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Based on current knowledge, Diesel Locomotive 4803 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 Locomotive 4803 has a high level of aesthetic significance. Its design is significant because it demonstrates along with the 45 and 47 classes an evolution in design for diesel locomotives for this period. The locomotive has a number of external design features which make it significantly different in the evolution of the development of locomotives in Australia.

Diesel Locomotive 4803 has a high level of technical significance. The 48-class locomotive is the most numerous class of diesel locomotive used in NSW. The class worked on every line due to its light axle load.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Diesel Locomotive 4803 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 Locomotive 4803 has a moderate level of research significance. The locomotive has the potential to reveal information regarding the development of diesel locomotives in Australia.
SHR Criteria f)
The 48-class locomotive is the most numerous class of diesel locomotive used in NSW, and the locomotive class is not considered rare.
SHR Criteria g)
Diesel Locomotive 4803 is representative of a 48-class locomotive, the most numerous diesel locomotive used in NSW with a total of 165 units eventually placed in service with the NSWGR as well as 44 being built for the South Australian Railways and another 3 for the Broken Hill based Silverton Tramway Company.
Integrity/Intactness: Diesel Locomotive 4803 retains a high level of integrity and intactness. The locomotive is intact and in its original livery is able to give rise to the above categories of significance.
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
SRA Heritage Rolling Stock Stage 2b Heritage Assessments2000 David Sheedy Pty Ltd Architects and Heritage ConsultantsSteven Adams Yes
S170 Rolling Stock Review2009 NSW Department of Commerce  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenMorahan, M1997Early Diesel and Electric Locomotives of the NSWGR
WrittenOberg, L1975Locomotives of Australia

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

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(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: 4807246

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