Rail Motor Trailer FT No. 501 | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Rail Motor Trailer FT No. 501

Item details

Name of item: Rail Motor Trailer FT No. 501
Other name/s: 500Class Rail Motor Trailer
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 was the first NSW Government Railways Rail Motor trailer of steel and aluminium construction.
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: Ritchie Brothers, Auburn, NSW
Physical description: The 500 Class Rail Motor Trailer is a non-powered railway passenger vehicle designed to be being hauled by the (powered) 400 Class Rail Motor. The vehicle has a steel underframe and lower body. The upper part of the body makes extensive use aluminium alloy and timber. The roof is of timber construction finished with canvas and navy dressing. The under car skirts are formed from aluminium sheet.

Accommodation is provided for 59 Second (Economy) Class in a combination of 2 x 2 and 2 x 3 seating.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Rail Motor Trailer No.501 is in a good to average 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:
1938 – Built as a composite car (1st and 2nd class accommodation).
c.1950 – Crown lights removed.
1967 – Half of the seating removed and converted into a luggage area (4 ton capacity).
1971 – Converted to a full 2nd Class car, end communication doors removed and braking modified to work with 42-Foot Rail Motors.
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 1945-1984. 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 have been undertaken to enhance the safety features such as impact resistant windows. While this a significant change to the original vehicle, considerable attention has been given by the Society to minimise the intrusion and visible impact of these changes.
Current use: Rail Motor
Former use: Rail Motor


Historical notes: With the development of the 400 Class Rail Motor, a series of trailers were also built to provide additional passenger accommodation on services. The eight 500 Class Rail Motor Trailers were designed by the NSWGR and were constructed by Ritchie Brothers of Auburn NSW. The cars were similar to twelve air-conditioned vehicles built for service with the Silver City Comet (also built by Ritchie Brothers) but without air-conditioning. They were originally numbered in the Comet series as 213 to 220 but were later renumbered as 501 to 508 respectively. Four were built at composite cars (1st and 2nd class accommodation) and four as 2nd class cars.

The 500 Class were hauled by the 400 Class Rail Motors, each motor car being capable of hauling 2 trailers. The 400 and 500 Class trains were assigned to branchline working and like their predecessors proved a great success.

Various body modifications have occurred including conversion of seating areas to luggage compartments and substitution of the 1st class seating for 2nd class. As branch line passenger numbers dropped in the 1960’s with the availability of more convenient road transport, a number were withdrawn from the branches and converted to work with the 42-Foot Rail Motors as trailers. This conversion involved a change to the braking system (substituting Straight Air for the SEM type), removal of the end communication doors and gangways and boarding over of the toilets. These were assigned to outer suburban working at Sutherland and Richmond. Two cars (No.504 and No.508) were converted into full parcel trailers to work with the Silver City Comet sets based at Parkes.

Following the introduction of a new timetable in November 1983, the remaining 400 and 500 Class vehicles were withdrawn and sold except for No.504 and No.508 that survived in service until the Silver City Comet fleet was withdrawn in 1989. They were then sold.

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 was built to fight off the increasing popularity of road and later air travel. (D E Cooke, 1984)
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
These vehicles also introduced faster and more comfortable travel to patrons. (D E Cooke, 1984)
SHR Criteria g)
This vehicle represents the standard form of the class for the period 1971-1983.
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: 5051501
File number: H00/00415

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