Rail Motor FPH No. 606 | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Rail Motor FPH No. 606

Item details

Name of item: Rail Motor FPH No. 606
Other name/s: 600Class Rail Motor, Slug
Type of item: Movable / Collection
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Locomotives & Rolling Stock
Primary address: , Paterson, NSW 2421
Local govt. area: Dungog
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
 PatersonDungog  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The vehicle is significant in that it is one of the two surviving members of the class in original condition.
Date significance updated: 07 Dec 00
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: NSW Government Railways Design Office
Builder/Maker: NSW Government Railways Rolling Stock Workshops Chullora.
Physical description: The 600 Class Rail Motor is a self-propelled railway passenger vehicle. The vehicle has a steel underframe with an aircraft style aluminium body. The vehicle was designed as a two-car set featuring a separate driving power car and driving trailer car.

The vehicle features twin underfloor 6-cylinder GM Detroit Diesel 165hp engines and coupled to Allison Torqmatic Model TCLA-655 hydraulic torque converter transmissions.

Seating is provided for 32 2nd Class passengers in a compartment at the No.2 end and a luggage compartment with 8 tons capacity in the No.1 end. Engine exhausts and radiators separate the two compartments. The driver’s cab is fitted at the No.1 end of the vehicle.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Rail Motor No.606 is in reasonable condition.
Date condition updated:07 Dec 00
Modifications and dates: In common with all railway vehicles, a process of continuous improvement was employed with this class. The key changes are as follows:
c.1965 – Seating fitted to luggage compartment.
1983 – Air stop/start equipment fitted to diesel engines.
Further information: These vehicles can never be restored to their original condition due to the many and varied changes that they have been subjected to during their operational life. The Society’s intention is to restore these vehicles to a state that is consistent with the last significant portion of the vehicle’s life. In this instance it is the period 1970-1984. The current level of safety and other regulatory and operational requirements also dictate the level of restoration that can be applied to any heritage rail vehicle for main line operations.

The Rail Motor Society is an “active” museum and preservation group. Our aim is to restore these vehicles so that they can be safely operated under modern main line railway conditions, while still providing travelling patrons with opportunity to experience the ambience of the branch line rail motor.

To this end, some modifications may be undertaken to enhance the safety features such as impact resistant windows. While this a significant change to the original vehicle, considerable attention will be given by the Society to minimise the intrusion and visible impact of these changes.
Current use: Rail Motor
Former use: Rail Motor


Historical notes: During World War II, the NSW Government Railways Workshops at Chullora were used to construct Beaufort bomber aircraft. At the conclusion of the War, aircraft production was curtailed and transferred to the Department of Aircraft Production Fisherman’s Bend facility in Victoria. Following the closure a number of the production staff were absorbed with the view to utilising them for rolling stock construction.

In 1946, the NSWGR approved the construction of 10 two-car diesel trains for branchline work and 20 air-conditioned power cars and 10 air-conditioned trailers for mainline daylight express services. It was inevitable that the aircraft construction techniques learned during the War would be applied to the new railway rolling stock construction.

These cars were constructed principally of aluminium which reduced their all up weight but maintained strength. The main structural members were welded steel Pratt trusses that extended from bolster to bolster in length and from waist rail to below the floor. A light gauge aluminium framework constructed along similar lines to an aircraft was built onto these trusses and the entire structure sheathed in aluminium sheeting.

The 600 and 700 Classes consisted of a single ended driving power car and a single ended driving trailer car that were designed to operate as a set. They were powered by the reliable GM 6/71 diesel engines from the preceding rail motor classes but were fitted with an Allison Torqmatic TCLA 655 transmission. This transmission had no neutral position and required the engines to be shut down to reverse the train or when standing for long periods to avoid damage to the final drive or transmission. As they were designed for country branchline running this was not seen as a limitation. However, in later times, in suburban operations, this became an operating issue. Air stop/start equipment was later fitted to try to alleviate some of these operational issues.

The 600 Class provided seating for 32 second class passengers and 8 tons of luggage. The engine exhaust housing separated the two areas. The 700 Class trailers provided seating for 26 first and 24 second class passengers. The two saloons were separated by toilets that served both cars. The cars were assigned to branchline services throughout the State. Some were allocated to Newcastle as a trial for the proposed 620 Class suburban series. The luggage area was fitted with seating to increase passenger accommodation

In 1971 it was planned to convert all 10 members of the 600/700 Class to make them compatible with the later 620 and 900 Class Rail Motors. 22 new Cummins diesel NT 855-R2 engines and Twin Disc DFFR/10034 hydraulic transmissions were acquired. However, due to a number of engine problems in the later 620 Class, some of the new engines were diverted and only five of the Class were converted. These were renumbered into the 660 and 760 Class to distinguish them from their non-compatible sisters. 601/701, 605/705, 608/708, 609/709 and 610/710 were converted.

The remaining 5 sets were assigned to Newcastle, the Richmond Branch and to Wollongong for outer suburban working. They were plagued with problems due to their over age equipment and a number were cannibalised for spare parts to keep the others in service. By the late 1980’s only 602 and 702 were in a useable state and were withdrawn from service when electrification of the Richmond Branch was completed in 1990. Following their withdrawal, 602/702, power car 606 and trailer 707 were purchased by the Rail Motor Society. However, 702 was burnt out by vandals before delivery could be taken. 602, 606 and 707 are now preserved by the Society and remain the sole representatives of this once twenty strong pioneering class.

The 600 Class was the first of a series of 92 vehicles constructed to the same basic design for NSW Railways. Each succeeding class provided more advancement in the form engines, transmissions and control systems, while maintaining the basic chassis and body configuration. These vehicles were a common sight on most NSW main and major branch lines.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
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 (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The item is historically significant because demonstrates the ongoing development by the NSW Railways of rolling stock to provide economical rail services to country NSW.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The item is socially significant because it continued the trend of the opening up of country NSW railway services by providing faster schedules and more comfort to the more important branch lines. It was built during the period of considerable innovation in railway technology and were built to fight off the increasing popularity of road and later air travel. (D E Cooke, 1984)
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The item is technically significant because it was the first rail car to feature lightweight aluminium construction in NSW. It also demonstrates the ongoing development by the NSW Railways of the basic 42-Foot Rail Motor and later 400 Class. These vehicles also introduced faster and more comfortable travel to patrons. (D E Cooke, 1984)
SHR Criteria f)
Only 2 of the class members have survived in preservation groups. No.602 is the only unit in operational condition.
SHR Criteria g)
This vehicle represents the standard form of the class for the period 1980-1990.
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.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
Order Under Section 57(2) of the Heritage Act, 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to section 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:
1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government
Gazette on 7 March 2003, 18 June 2004 and 8 July 2005; and
2. grant standard exemptions from section 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule below.

Minister for Planning
Sydney, 25 March 2006

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Mar 25 2006

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register - Element 0148810 Jun 04   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenDavid E Cooke1984Rail Motors and XPTs

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: Heritage Office
Database number: 5051493
File number: H00/00415

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