Victorian Railways S class (diesel)

The S class are a class of diesel locomotives built by Clyde Engineering, Granville for the Victorian Railways between 1957 and 1961.

Victorian Railways S class
Preserved S303 at the Seymour Railway Heritage Centre in October 2007
Type and origin
Power typeDiesel-electric
BuilderClyde Engineering, Granville
ModelA7 (first order) A16C (second order)
Build date1957-1961
Total produced18
Gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in),
1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in)
Length18.72 m (61 ft 5 in)
Loco weight116 t (114 long tons; 128 short tons)
Fuel typeDiesel
Prime moverElectro-Motive Diesel 16-567C
Engine typeV16
GeneratorElectro-Motive Diesel D12/D22
Traction motorsElectro-Motive Diesel D27/D37/D47
Performance figures
Maximum speed133 km/h (83 mph)
Power output1,350 kW (1,810 hp)
OperatorsVictorian Railways
Number in class18
First run1957
PreservedS303, S308, S310, S313
Current ownerCFCL Australia
Pacific National
Southern Shorthaul Railroad
Disposition6 in service, 4 preserved, 2 stored, 6 scrapped


The S class was based on the Electro-Motive Diesel F7 design and were very similar to the GM12 class then being built by Clyde Engineering for the Commonwealth Railways. They were mechanically similar to the 1952 built double ended B class.

The first order for 10 locomotives, were progressively delivered between August 1957 and February 1958. The first four took the names and numbers of the recently scrapped S class steam locomotives, with all being named after prominent Victorians. An additional eight locomotives were ordered for use on the new North East standard gauge line and delivered between November 1960 and December 1961.[1][2]

The class were initially used on express passenger trains such as the Intercapital Daylight, Southern Aurora, Spirit of Progress and The Overland, but were also used on fast freights. On the broad gauge they often operated in pairs, while on the standard gauge they usually ran solo.[3] A second 'hostlers' cab was provided at the number two end, but was only used around depots, or to haul empty carriages short distances.[3]

In February 1969 two were destroyed in the Violet Town railway disaster, and were deemed uneconomical to repair and scrapped.[4] In January 1967 S317 was badly damaged in a head-on collision with X33 south of Broadford Loop and was returned to Clyde Engineering for rebuilding.[1] In June 1982 S317 was again involved in a fatal accident when it ran into the rear of the Spirit of Progress at Barnawartha, killing the crew.[3]

As more modern locomotives were introduced, those on the standard gauge moved to the broad gauge.[4][5] Examples would periodically appear on the standard gauge.

When the G Class engines entered service the railways declared that no more S Class engines would undergo major overhauls. The last two had been S301 in 1985 and S307 in 1986; as of July 1987 engines S303, 304, 305 and 309 were withdrawn, 308 banned as a leading unit and 306 was under minor repair but still in the VR Blue livery.[6] In February 1994 four (300, 302, 311, 312)[7] were sold to West Coast Railway for use on their Melbourne to Warrnambool passenger service.[8] By April 1999 only four remained in the V/Line fleet and even these were only used during periods of high demand.[9] A few have been preserved.

Privatisation brought an upturn in the class' fortunes with some overhauled and as at May 2014 remain in service with CFCL Australia, Pacific National and Southern Shorthaul Railroad.[10][11] In 2019, S300 and S311 were purchased privately from CFCLA.[12]

Fleet status

Locomotive Serial no Name Entered service Withdrawn Scrapped Status Owner Notes
First Order
S300 57-164 Matthew Flinders 21 Aug 1957 Stored Privately owned[13] Purchased from CFCL Australia
S301 57-165 Sir Thomas Mitchell 4 Sep 1957 Stored Pacific National
S302 57-166 Edward Henty 18 Sep 1957 In service Southern Shorthaul Railroad
S303 57-167 CJ La Trobe 30 Sep 1957 Jul 1988 Preserved - Operational VicTrack heritage collection Allocated to Seymour Railway Heritage Centre
S304 57-168 George Bass 15 Oct 1957 May 1987 Mar 1992 Scrapped
S305 57-169 Hamilton Hume 4 Nov 1957 2 Dec 1985 Feb 1991 Scrapped
S306 57-170 John Batman 25 Nov 1957 Stored Pacific National Returned To Broad Gauge In September 2018
S307 57-171 John Pascoe Fawkner 10 Dec 1957 Stored Pacific National
S308 58-179 Sir Redmond Barry 20 Jan 1958 25 Jul 1988 Preserved - Static VicTrack heritage collection Allocated to the Australian Railway Historical Society Museum
S309 58-182 William Lonsdale 24 Feb 1958 19 Jul 1988 1996 Scrapped
Second Order
S310 60-227 George Higinbotham 25 Nov 1960 Stored Seymour Railway Heritage Centre
S311 60-228 Sir Ferdinand von Mueller 16 Nov 1960 Stored Privately owned[14] Purchased from CFCL Australia
S312 60-229 Peter Lalor 27 Jan 1961 In service Southern Shorthaul Railroad[15]
S313 61-230 Alfred Deakin 24 Feb 1961 14 Dec 1994 Preserved - Operational VicTrack heritage collection Allocated to Steamrail Victoria
S314 61-231 Sir John O'Shanassy 20 Apr 1961 7 Feb 1969 7 Feb 1969 Scrapped destroyed Violet Town railway disaster
S315 61-238 Sir Charles Gavan Duffy 16 Oct 1961 23 Aug 1988 Apr 1992 Scrapped
S316 61-239 Sir Andrew Clarke 10 Nov 1961 7 Feb 1969 7 Feb 1969 Scrapped destroyed Violet Town railway disaster
S317 61-240 Jenny Molloy[16] 7 Dec 1961 In service Southern Shorthaul Railroad Previously named Sir John Monash, probably renamed when repainted into SSR livery

Model Railways

HO scale

The S Class was one of the first plastic, ready-to-run model railway locomotives made specifically to cater to the Victorian market. An initial release by Lima in 1976 recycled their 44 Class body shell with a paint scheme roughly resembling that of the Victorian Railways.[17]

In 1977, Hornby modified their B/L Class design to create their approximation of the S Class engine, this time with the rounded bulldog nose. The model, which was marketed through 1977-1978, was released as either S311 or S315 with product code R.317.[18][19][20] The model utilised the then-standard Silver Seal Ringfield motor, and around 12,000 units were produced, mostly in sets.[21]

To compete with the Hornby model, Lima invested in a proper body mould for the S Class design, released in 1981 as S302 and S315.[22] This model was re-released on multiple occasions, and eventually in V/line orange (S310) and West Coast Railway blue (S302).[23][24][25][26][27] With more accurate models being released in the decades since, original Lima models are regularly repurposed as parts donors or for merging into fictional engines, i.e. a non-driving "SB" class.

In October 1991, VR Models released a series of name and number plates which could be used on any of the earlier releases.[28]

Also in the early 1990s, Precision Scale Models imported a range of VR Blue and V/Line orange brass locomotives.

Finally, in November 2009, TrainOrama released a modern-quality take on the S Class locomotive. The engine featured a five-pole skew-wound motor, pickup from all wheels (and all powered), and no rubber tyres; twin flywheels; directional headlights and marker lights, and a range of other details.[29] Engines were sold individually, with an RRP of $285.00.

The first batch included models of S300, S301, S303, S306, S308, S311, S312, S313, S315 and S317 in VR Blue, S309 and S310 in V/Line Orange, and S303 in Freight Australia Green. Some of the blue engines were in the earlier format, with fuel tank valences and nose doors; others had the valences removed and the nose doors welded shut.

In mid-2016, Bobs Hobbies, now the owner of TrainOrama, announced a re-release of the S Class engines, with new numbers. The price rose to $295.00 per unit, and the range now includes S304, S305 and S313 in blue and S308 and S312 in orange.[30]

To date, no models have been released of S307, S314, or S316.

N Scale

In 1984, Weico released a kit that could be used to construct either a NSW 42 Class or VR S Class locomotive. In 2018, Gopher Models introduced ready-to-run models of the NSW 42 class, the CR GM-12 class and the VR S class in a variety of liveries.<> [31]


  1. Ian Weickhardt (March–April 1979). "VR 'S' class diesel electric locomotive". Australian Model Railway Magazine: 34–36.
  2. Oberg, Leon (1984). Locomotives of Australia 1850s - 1980s. Frenchs Forest: Reed Books. pp. 196–197. ISBN 0 730100 05 7.
  3. S class diesel electric locomotives Mark Bau's VR website
  4. Railmac Publications (1992). Australian Fleetbooks: V/Line locomotives. Kitchner Press. ISBN 0-949817-76-7.
  5. Oberg, Leon (1980). Diesel Locomotives of Australia. Sydney: AH & AW Reed. p. 286. ISBN 0 589 50211 5.
  6. Newsrail September 1988 p.282
  7. "West Coast Railway Fleet Specs". 16 November 1999. Archived from the original on 9 October 1999. Retrieved 6 January 2007.
  8. Peter Attenborough (February 2004). "West Coast Railway". Australian Model Railway Magazine: 32–34.
  9. "The Last of the Bulldogs" Railway Digest April 1999 page 40
  10. S Class Railpage
  11. S Class Vicsig
  15. Transfer of ownership of locomotive S312 Australian Rail Track Corporation 20 March 2-17
  17. "AMRM Issue 80, September / October 1976".
  18. "Hornby Railways Collector Guide - Model - V.R. S Class Diesel Locomotive (Aust)".
  19. "AMRM Issue 87, November / December 1977".
  20. "AMRM Issue 95, March / April 1979".
  21. "Hornby Railways Collector Guide - Model - Express Freight Set (Aust)".
  22. "AMRM Issue 107, March / April 1981".
  23. "AMRM Issue 113, April 1982".
  24. "AMRM Issue 134, October 1985".
  25. "AMRM Issue 139, August 1986".
  26. "AMRM Issue 161, April 1990".
  27. "AMRM Issue 162, June 1990".
  28. "AMRM Issue 170, October 1991".
  29. "Bob's Models & Hobbies - Trainorama Products". 4 March 2015.
  30. "News & Ordering".
  31. "AMRM Issue 124, February 1984".

Further reading

  • Peter Bermingham (1995). The A7 era : the technical, pictorial and evolutionary history of the Victorian Railway's S Class diesel-electric locomotive. Horsepower Histories. ISBN 0-646-25614-9.

Media related to Victorian Railways S class diesel locomotives at Wikimedia Commons

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