New South Wales 46 class locomotive

New South Wales 46 class locomotive
New South Wales 46 class
4615 locomotive at the Junee Roundhouse Museum
Power type Electric
Builder Metropolitan-Vickers/Beyer Peacock, Bowesfield Works, Stockton-on-Tees, England
Serial number 786–825
Build date 1956
Total produced 40
UIC classification Co+Co
Gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Wheel diameter 45 in (1,143 mm)
Wheelbase 41 ft 0 in (12.50 m)
Length Over headstocks: 51 ft 2 in (15.60 m),
Over coupler pulling faces: 53 ft 11 14 in (16.44 m)
Width 9 ft 7 in (2.92 m)
Height Over stowed pantograph: 14 ft 6 in (4.42 m)
Axle load 18 tons 14 cwt (41,900 lb or 19.0 t)
Locomotive weight 112 tons 0 cwt (250,900 lb or 113.8 t)
Sandbox capacity 18 cu ft (0.51 m3)
Electric system 1,500 V DC
Current collection
Overhead, Two pantographs
Traction motors MV 272 (6 off)
Top speed 70 mph (113 km/h)
Power output Continuous: 3,400 hp (2,540 kW),
One hour: 3,780 hp (2,820 kW)
Tractive effort Continuous: 36,700 lbf (163.25 kN),
One hour: 40,800 lbf (181.49 kN) at 34.5 mph (55.5 km/h)
Career New South Wales Government Railways
Number 4601–4640
First run 25 June 1956
Disposition 5 preserved, 35 scrapped

The New South Wales 46 class are a class of mainline electric locomotive introduced onto the NSW rail system from 1956 under New South Wales Government Railways. Metropolitan-Vickers and its partner Beyer, Peacock and Company obtained the contract to build 40 of these locomotives.[1]



The locomotives were built at Bowesfield Works, Stockton-on-Tees, England, with electrical equipment supplied by Metropolitan-Vickers from its Trafford Park and Sheffield plants. Metropolitan-Vickers drew on experience gained from its earlier class EM1 and EM2 electric locomotives, which were used on the Woodhead Line in the UK and in The Netherlands.

These electric locomotives were originally purchased as part of the Blue Mountains electrification works, and spent their life hauling coal, freight and passenger carriages under the wires. The 46 class locomotives were often seen double or triple heading coal and freight services.

The class 46 was the most powerful locomotive in Australia for many years, with a one hour rating of 3,780 horsepower (2,820 kW) and ability to deliver more than that for short periods. They proved to be very reliable and were generally considered superior to the much newer and even more powerful Comeng-Mitsubishi 85 class and 86 class electric locomotives. Their build quality and durability was such that 38 of the original 40 remained on the books in 1990.


The class 46 locomotives were involved in a number of serious incidents. On 16 July 1965, a 44-vehicle goods train hauled by 4620 ran away for 4 miles (6.4 km), careering downhill at speeds of up to 95 miles per hour (153 km/h), before a spectacular derailment at Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains. Investigations revealed that whilst the air brake train pipe was connected from the locomotive to the train, the associated isolating cock was left closed. This rendered the train brakes inoperative.

On 16 January 1976, a goods train hauled by 4623 collided with the rear of a stationary double deck interurban electric multiple unit (EMU) train at Glenbrook, NSW, killing one passenger in the rear car of the EMU. This accident was caused by a wrong-side signal failure. The automatic signal in rear of the EMU exhibited "caution" when it should have been at "danger", thereby admitting the following goods train into the occupied signal section.

Incidents like this were occurring with alarming frequency in New South Wales in the 1970s[citation needed], until the Granville rail disaster of 1977, which claimed 83 lives. Locomotive 4620 did not survive this incident in service, being the first class 46 to succumb to withdrawal.


The locomotives were withdrawn in 1996 after nearly forty years of service, being replaced by the 85 class and 86 class electric locomotives as well as diesel-electric locomotives. The whole class was scrapped except for the five locomotives (and one cab) saved for preservation:



  1. ^ Singleton, C.C. (October 1956). "The 46-Class Electric Locomotive". Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin: pp. 142–144. 

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