New South Wales 81 class locomotive

The 81 class are a class of diesel locomotives built by Clyde Engineering, Kelso for the State Rail Authority.

New South Wales 81 class
Pacific National 8169 and 8137 at Temora
in November 2011
Type and origin
Power typeDiesel-electric
BuilderClyde Engineering, Kelso
Serial number82-1020 to 82-1034
83-1035 to 83-1058
84-1059 to 84-1082
85-1083 to 85-1099
91-1278 to 91-1281
ModelElectro-Motive Division JT26C-2SS
Build date1982-1985, 1991
Total produced84
Gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Wheel diameter1,016 mm (40 in)
LengthOver headstocks:
19.760 m (64 ft 10 in),
Over coupler pulling faces:
21.156 m (69 ft 5 in)
Width2.968 m (9 ft 9 in)
Height4.267 m (14 ft 0 in)
Axle load21.5 t (21.2 long tons; 23.7 short tons)
Loco weight129 t (127.0 long tons; 142.2 short tons)
Fuel typeDiesel
Fuel capacity6,600 L (1,450 imp gal; 1,740 US gal)
Lubricant cap.920 L (202 imp gal; 243 US gal)
Coolant cap.1,117 L (246 imp gal; 295 US gal)
Sandbox cap.0.475 m3 (16.8 cu ft)
Prime moverEMD 16-645E3B
RPM range318-904
Engine typeTwo-stroke V16 diesel
AlternatorElectro-Motive Division AR16
Traction motorsElectro-Motive Division D77, 6 of
Cylinder size229 mm × 254 mm (9.0 in × 10.0 in)
Performance figures
Maximum speed115 km/h (71 mph)
Power outputGross:
2,460 kW (3,300 hp)
For traction:
2,240 kW (3,000 hp)
Tractive effortContinuous:
337.00 kN (75,761 lbf)
at 19.2 km/h (11.9 mph)
OperatorsState Rail Authority
Number in class83
First run29 October 1982
Disposition83 in service,


Eighty 81 class locomotives were built by Clyde Engineering, Kelso between September 1982 and February 1986, to replace 1950s vintage 42 and 44 class locomotives as well as provide additional capacity. The first 42 were based at Broadmeadow Locomotive Depot to operate Hunter Valley coal trains, while the remaining 38 were concentrated on the Main South line between Sydney and Albury hauling both passenger and freight trains.[1] The final 15 were equipped with V/Line radios, and from July 1986 operated through to Melbourne.[2] They are mechanically very similar to the V/Line G class and Australian National BL class.

In 1991, a further four units were built at Kelso using many components from spares held.[3] Following the delivery of the 90 class in 1994, the Broadmeadow based units were released to replace older locomotives on other freight duties. This saw their sphere of operation extended to Brisbane and Broken Hill.[4][5]

In the mid-1990s some of the later locomotives were leased to National Rail. These were later exchanged for 13 of the earlier locomotives which were permanently transferred to National Rail for use as high-power shunters around Australia. All were reunited when National Rail and FreightCorp were both sold to form Pacific National in February 2002.

In February 1999, 81s began operating in South Australia when FreightCorp won a contract to haul brown coal on the Leigh Creek to Stirling North line from Leigh Creek to the Northern Power Station in Port Augusta.[6][7]

As at February 2013, Pacific National operated 83, primarily in New South Wales.[8][9] 8147 was written off following a derailment near Forbes on 11 March 2007.

Model railways

HO Scale

SDS Models in 2015 announced a range of 81 class locomotives, thought to include Candy (8104, 8136), Bicentennial (8120, 8172), Freightrail and Freightcorp variants (8129, 8139, 8167, 8168, 8172, 8175 and 8177), National Rail (8117) and Pacific National (8120, 8150) models, with all four body types. The range will be available both as DC and DCC with sound. [10]

Austrains in 2014 released models of the 81 class locomotive retailing at about $300 per model. The range included 8134, 8155 and 8169 in Freightrail Blue, and 8125, 8150 and 8178 in Pacific National blue and yellow. An incorrectly-modelled Candy locomotive was also released.[11] A second run was planned for 2015, but will not go ahead after SDS Models announced their range

Powerline released models of the 81 class in 1987. At the time the entire fleet was painted in Candy, so that was the only model released. 8175 was a dummy unit; 8115, 8122, 8129, 8138, 8142 and 8157 were released with a single motor, while 8169 and 8175 were released with dual motors. Some twin packs were also released, usually the dummy 8175 with one single-motor unit. 1990 saw a special release of an unnumbered Candy locomotive released with a KB coach. In 1997 the locomotive was rerun, this time in Bicentennial (8120 and 8172), Stealth (8167 and 8175) and Freight Rail (8108, 8181, 8184 single motor and 8177 dual motor). In December 1987 Hobbyco in George Street, Sydney, were retailing the single motor version for $101.95. [12]


  1. Julian Insall (January 1994). "Exit the Sydney/Melbourne express". Newsrail. Australian Railway Historical Society (Victorian Division). pp. 7–9.
  2. "V/Line Standard Gauge Report" Railway Digest August 1986 page 247
  3. "New 81 class locos handed over" Railway Digest August 1991 page 269
  4. "All Change on the Coast" Railway Digest August 1994 page 38
  5. "Broken Hill" Railway Digest October 1994 page 34
  6. "Freight Carriers move into New Markets" Railway Digest January 1999 page 9
  7. "Ten-Year Leigh Creek Contract for FreightCorp as NSW Flows Lost" Railway Digest October 1999 page 8
  8. 81 Class Railpage
  9. 81 Class Vicsig

Further reading

  • New South Wales Rail System Locomotives. Sydney: Archives Section, State Rail Authority of New South Wales. 1984.

Media related to New South Wales 81 class locomotives at Wikimedia Commons

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