Walker railmotor

The family of Walker railmotors were a type of diesel railcar operated by the Victorian Railways in Australia.

After the Second World War, the Victorian Railways undertook a major rebuilding program known as "Operation Phoenix". One of the first tasks was the upgrading of passenger services on country branch lines, through the replacement of 23 wooden bodied railmotors built in the 1920s, and the withdrawal of steam locomotive hauled mixed trains.

An initial order of twelve 102 hp (80 kW) railcars, six 153 hp (110 kW) railcars with trailers, and twelve 280 hp (210 kW) railcars was placed with Walker Brothers of Wigan, England. It was then extended to include a further ten 153 hp (110 kW) railmotors and trailers. The first was delivered in 1948, with additions to the fleet running through to 1955.[1][2]

102hp Walker Railmotor
102hp Walker railmotor soon after delivery
Type and origin
Power typeDiesel
DesignerWalker Bros.
BuilderWalker Bros. (Power Unit),
Martin & King (Body),
Victorian Railways (Assemble).
Build date1948-1955
Total produced13
Gauge5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm)
Length8.5625 ft (2.6 m)
Loco weight18.00t
Fuel typeDiesel
Engine typeGardner 6LW
Performance figures
Maximum speed45 miles per hour (72 km/h)
Power output102 horsepower (76 kW)
Tractive effort2,969 pounds-force (13.21 kN)
OperatorsVictorian Railways
Number in class12
First run15 March 1948
153hp Walker Railmotor
Type and origin
Power typeDiesel
DesignerWalker Bros.
BuilderWalker Bros. (Power Unit),
Martin & King (Body),
Victorian Railways (Assemble).
Build date1948-1955
Total produced16 (153hp)
Gauge5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm)
Length10.55 ft (3.2 m)
Loco weight20.00t – 153hp
Fuel typeDiesel
Engine typeGardner 6L3
Performance figures
Maximum speed50 miles per hour (80 km/h)
Power output153 horsepower (114 kW)
Tractive effort4,130 pounds-force (18.4 kN)
OperatorsVictorian Railways
Number in class12
First run16 July 1948 (153hp)
102hp & 153hp Walker Railmotor – Passenger unit
Type and origin
DesignerWalker Bros.
BuilderMartin & King (Body),
Victorian Railways (Assemble).
Build date1948-1953
Total produced27
Gauge5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm)
Length44.5 ft (10 m)
Fuel capacity40 imperial gallons (180 L)
Performance figures
Maximum speed50 miles per hour (80 km/h)
OperatorsVictorian Railways
Number in class27
Numbers100-101, 220-234
First run15 March 1948
280hp Walker Railmotor
Type and origin
Power typeDiesel
DesignerWalker Bros.
BuilderWalker Bros. (Power Unit),
Martin & King (Body),
Victorian Railways (Assemble).
Build date1950-1954
Total produced12 + spare power unit
Gauge5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm)
Length37 m (121 ft 5 in)
Loco weight55.00t
Fuel typeDiesel
Fuel capacity2 x 50 imperial gallons (230 L)
Engine type2 x Gardner 8LW 140 hp engines
Performance figures
Maximum speed60 miles per hour (97 km/h)
Power output280 horsepower (210 kW)
Tractive effort6,285 pounds-force (27.96 kN)
OperatorsVictorian Railways
Number in class12
NumbersRM 80 – RM 91, RM 92 (Power unit)
First run6 June 1950
Walker Railmotor Trailer
Type and origin
DesignerWalker Bros.
BuilderMartin & King (Body),
Victorian Railways (Assemble).
Gauge5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm)
Length44.15 ft (10 m)
Loco weight17.00t
OperatorsVictorian Railways
Number in class16
First run18 October 1948


The power units and controls were shipped out from England and the car bodies built locally by Martin & King in Malvern, with the finished units assembled at Newport Workshops. The van bodies were constructed with composite wood and steel framework, and aluminium sheeting screwed to the frames. The engine and trailing units were initially fitted with small plates below skirt level identifying each section as part of that specific railmotor set, i.e. 80RM[3], but these were removed as units were rotated through workshops and mixed with each other. Within a few years the identity of the 102hp and 153hp motors was marked only on the cabside door (with nothing on the saloon unit), and on the 280hp railmotors only on one side of each motor unit with nothing on either saloon unit. Vehicle identities were occasionally further confused when cabside doors were swapped in later years.

The intended life of the Walker railmotors was only 10 years. However, most remained in service for up to 30 years.

102hp & 153hp

The final fleet included 13x 102 hp engine/driving units 1-13RM and 16x 153 hp engine/driving units 20-35RM which looked similar; these shared 27x trailing units each mounted on only one bogie, and attached semi-permanently to the associated motor unit, leaving one motor unit of each type spare. The trailing units were not identified normally when in service, but some correspondence notes individual identities No.100 to No.111 (or No.101 to No.112[4]) and No.220 to No.234. This was marked on a small plate on the passenger/driver door of cabs.

The passenger units were all identical with room for 18 1st class and 22 2nd class seated passengers plus 2 tons luggage, except for 100, 104 and 220, which had 18+27 seats and room for only 1.27 tons of luggage; their tare weight was a ton less than the rest of the fleet.

Newsrail April 1982 records the small-van units as "11, 12 and 20", and coupled to 3RM as of 8 June 1976, and 31RM as of 1 January 1977.[5]


Separate to the paired units, railmotors 80-92RM consisted of two driving/sitting units, one either side of the power unit that gave its identity to the full consist. Originally, 80-91RM were in service and 92RM was spare without attached driving/passenger units.

One unit in each pair was fitted with seating for 38 1st class passengers, and the other had 56 2nd class passengers, for a total of 94 seats. Each was also capable of holding a single ton of luggage, and it was possible to walk through the centre motor unit via an offset corridor

Unlike the 120 hp and 153 hp variants, the driving/passenger units of the 280 hp series were classed A880-A891 for the 1st class units, and B880-B891 for the 2nd class units. While possible, there's no reason to assume that the sets were broken up or shuffled around, besides the central motor section.


To go with the Walker railmotors, sixteen trailer cars were built. The first were delivered as class RMT, numbers 50 and 51; they were reclassed to MT in 1949, and further deliveries brought the class up to 64MT.

Each was mounted on two bogies with no driving stands, so they required a runaround at terminal stations. Stylistically, they matched the 102 hp and 153 hp railcars, and were a little shorter than the 280 hp type.

Each trailer had capacity for 16 1st, 22 2nd seated passengers and 2 tons of luggage, except 55MT fitted with 38 2nd-class seats instead of a mixture.

Like the motors, these trailers were not fitted with standard couplings so special arrangements had to be made when it was necessary to move one of the trailers with a normal locomotive.

In Service

The first run was on 15 March 1948, between Heathcote and Wallan on the North Eastern line; this was with 1RM. The first 153hp unit ran from Spencer Street to Daylesford, until that roster was taken by the first of the 280hp units - 80RM - on 6 June 1950.

The railcars soon saw use on the Bendigo-Deniliquin and Ararat-Portland services, and by the time the 91RM was delivered, Mansfield, Wonthaggi, Woomelang and Wangaratta were also being served by the units. The long Glenrowan – Wangaratta section often saw the railcars exceed the 60 miles per hour (97 km/h) speed limit.[6]

Each passenger unit was equipped with adjustable seating, internal heating, non-draught windows, water tanks for drinking or washing, along with ample luggage storage in overhead wire racks. At least when new, the engines did not cause any vibration in the passenger compartments. The lighting system was powered by the then-standard Victorian Railways' 24vDC supply via belt-driven axle generators, with 20-watt globes. Trailer cars were not fitted with their own power supply, instead drawing power via jumper cables from adjacent units; the exceptions being 54 and 56MT, which are thought to have had batteries.[7]

The 280hp railcars were fitted with fluorescent lighting, likely a first for the Victorian Railways.

The light construction of the vehicles proved problematic, with many needing full rebuilds by 1954.[8]

It has been reported that the 280hp units had provision for multiple unit control, but that this feature was never utilised.[9] As a result, when running in multiple each unit needed to have its own driver, the two communicating through the standard whistle codes used on locomotives.

In later years the railcars' already poor riding qualities had deteriorated, especially due to their light construction. By the late 1970s the Walkers had reached the end of their lives, with a number of railcars being withdrawn from service during 1978 and 1979. By 1980 only 82RM, 85RM and 91RM remained in service.[6] The last 280 hp Walker railmotor ran on 17 September 1980, with 82RM operating the 08.00 am service from Melbourne to Woodend and return.

In 1981 the Central Highlands Tourist Railway (now the Daylesford Spa Country Railway) acquired 91RM, 32RM and 56MT with the transfer being carried out in March 1982. Restoration of 91RM began in January 1987, and was certified for traffic in March 1990.[6]


Each was originally painted in all-over royal blue, with silver roofs, striping and highlighting. When the first of the B class diesels was delivered, the Walkers then in service were repainted with gold replacing the silver. Over time, the roofs were repainted to blue to hide grime, and the logos and striping were made simpler. To improve visibility at level crossings, the cars had thin orange stripes added in the 1950s, followed by a wide orange "dayglo" band over the top of the yellow stripe below window level. Dayglo was designed to look fairly normal at daytime, but to become reflective at night. These stripes were removed from 1968.

A number of internal themes were trialled, with some cars having ivory ceilings and green and brown walls; others were blue ceilings with brown walls. All were fitted with brown leather upholstery seating.

Typical rosters

By 1963, the Walkers had settled into a pattern with a number of routes.

The 102hp Walkers typically ran between:

  • Morwell - Mirboo North
  • Ararat - Hamilton
  • Swan Hill - Piangil
  • Castlemaine - Maryborough
  • Benalla - Yarrawonga
  • Ballarat - Ararat
  • Nyora - Wonthaggi
  • Horsham - Goroke
  • Kerang - Koondrook
  • Ouyen - Pinnaroo and
  • Numurkah - Cobram

The 153hp Walkers typically ran between:

  • Traralgon - Maffra
  • Ballarat - Linton
  • Echuca - Balranald
  • Ararat - Hamilton
  • Frankston - Stony Point
  • Ballarat - Ballan
  • Bendigo - Deniliquin
  • Echuca - Kyabram "School Train", with three trailers.
  • Lilydale - Healesville
  • Melbourne - Seymour
  • Dimboola - Serviceton
  • Bendigo - Cohuna
  • Wallan - Heathcote
  • Lilydale - Warburton and
  • Melbourne - Mansfield

The 280hp Walkers typically ran between:

  • Ararat - Portland
  • Melbourne - Werribee
  • Melbourne - Leongatha
  • Melbourne - Daylesford
  • Melbourne - Woomelang
  • Melbourne - Wonthaggi and
  • Geelong - Ballarat

Some of these rosters required multiple units.

Withdrawal and Scrapping

35RM with unit no.224 was the first to be scrapped, on Thursday 15 October 1970. Scrapping then continued at a fairly easy pace until 1977, when VicRail decreed that branch lines in general were to be closed, rendering the units without a purpose. As such, 102hp overhauls were stopped, with failed units being held awaiting scrapping instead. The same procedure applied to 153hp and 280hp units from April the next year.

4RM was the last 102hp unit in service, withdrawn in December 1978; it survived longer because its engine unit had been replaced with a General Motors unit at some stage in its life, permitting a 50mph maximum speed and allowing it to closer match the timetables applicable to the higher-horsepower units.

Withdrawals of the larger units accelerated, and by the end of 1979 only 22, 32, 82, 85 and 91RM were still in service. The latter two of that list were withdrawn next; 85RM suffered a collapsed axle bearing, and ran on one engine to Ballarat North Workshops; however its body condition was deemed too poor to be worth repairing, so it continued on to Newport and was stored there. 82RM was the last of the 280hp units to go, after running an 8:00 Melbourne to Woodend and return trip on 17 September 1980.

32RM ran with 56MT through to November 1980, when the engine was withdrawn on account of a much needed overhaul (which was never completed by VicRail). 22RM and 64MT stayed in service, usually running the 9:11am Melbourne to Leongatha and return trip on weekdays, occasionally forming a Sunbury trip or two after arriving back in Melbourne. On Saturdays the unit pair would run on the Werribee shuttles, and occasionally to either Bacchus Marsh or Seymour as railmotor shortages dictated. but eventually, the gearbox failed and the unit was withdrawn following its return from Leongatha on 1 April 1981.


In 1981, two railmotors and a trailer – 32RM, 91RM and 56MT – were scheduled to be transferred to Victor Harbor, the current site of the Steamranger line. 91RM failed on the Ingliston bank and they ended up stored at Ballarat East; at a later point, the three units were purchased by the Central Highlands Tourist Railway (now the Daylesford Spa Country Railway). At the same time, 7RM was being held at Newport for future use on the Castlemaine-Maldon railway; 22RM was static in the Newport railway museum with 85RM held for future addition, and 59MT marked for same but badly vandalised, potentially to be replaced by 64MT. Lastly, 82RM was stored at Wodonga for the Tallangatta railway's proposed tourist services;

It is thought that the passenger units which had been with 29RM and 31RM at time of scrapping, had been sold for use as sheds somewhere in the Victorian countryside.

Units existing to date are:

  • 7RM with No. X – Stored at Daylesford
  • 22RM with No.225 – Owned by VicTrack, allocated to ARHS Newport Museum, sub-allocated to Yarra Valley Tourist Railway, in service
  • 24RM, possibly with No.228 – Stored in Huon
  • 32RM with No.232 – In service at Daylesford
  • 82RM with No.887A and No.891B – Stored at Daylesford
  • 85RM with Units X, Y – Stored at Daylesford
  • 91RM with No.880A and No.887B – In service at Daylesford
  • 56MT – stored at Daylesford
  • 58MT – stored at Huon
  • 64MT – stored at Huon

Details of vehicles

102hp, 153hp and passenger units

Railmotor Entered service Withdrawn Scrapped Status 24 March 1976[10] Current Status Notes
1RM Thursday, 4 March 1948 1971 Sunday, 19 November 1972 Scrapped Scrapped
2RM Sunday, 14 March 1948 1977 Swan Hill (for Piangil)
3RM Friday, 6 August 1948 1978 Bendigo North Workshops
4RM Tuesday, 15 February 1949 1978 Melbourne Fitted with GM motor, 128hp.
5RM Wednesday, 1 June 1949 1973 Sunday, 24 February 1974 Scrapped Scrapped
6RM Thursday, 23 June 1949 1978 Bendigo North Workshops
7RM Friday, 22 July 1949 Monday, 3 April 1978 Kerang (for Koondrook) N/A Stored at Daylesford Spa Country Railway
8RM Monday, 26 September 1949 1978 Bendigo (Spare)
9RM Monday, 10 October 1949 1976 Tuesday, 1 June 1976 Bendigo (burnt out, awaiting scrapping) Scrapped
10RM Friday, 4 November 1949 1978 Melbourne
11RM Tuesday, 20 December 1949 1978 Maryborough (for Castlemaine)
12RM Friday, 10 February 1950 1981 Scrapped Scrapped
13RM Wednesday, 26 January 1955 1978 Newport Workshops Original spare power unit
20RM Friday, 16 July 1948 Monday, 20 February 1978 Wednesday, 30 April 1980 Ararat (repairs) Scrapped Damaged in a derailment after hitting sheep. Accident occurred between Traralgon and Maffra.
21RM Thursday, 16 September 1948 Monday, 3 April 1978 N/A Newport Workshops Offered for sale on 21 June 1978.
22RM Monday, 15 November 1948 Tuesday, 1 April 1980 N/A Newport Workshops (Spare power unit) Allocated to Australian Railway Historical Society Museum at Newport; suballocated to Yarra Valley Tourist Railway. Operational – Restored, paired with No.225.
23RM Friday, 5 November 1948 Friday, 8 April 1977 Thursday, 5 May 1977 Healesville (for Lilydale) Scrapped
24RM Wednesday, 23 March 1949 Serviceton (for Horsham) Stored at Huon on the former Cudgewa line. Owned by former Tallangatta Valley Steam Preservation Society. May be paired with No.228.
25RM Thursday, 19 May 1949 Friday, 26 November 1971 Friday, 16 June 1972 Scrapped Scrapped
26RM Wednesday, 2 July 1952 Friday, 8 April 1977 Thursday, 5 May 1977 Melbourne Scrapped
27RM Thursday, 31 July 1952 Monday, 1 May 1978 N/A Mornington (for Frankston) Offered for sale on 21 June 1978.
28RM Wednesday, 10 September 1952 Monday, 1 May 1978 Friday, 25 July 1980 Maffra (for Traralgon) Scrapped
29RM Monday, 6 October 1952 Tuesday, 4 September 1979 Tuesday, 1 July 1980 Melbourne Scrapped
30RM Thursday, 20 November 1952 Wednesday, 3 October 1973 Thursday, 22 June 1978 Wonthaggi (for Nyora) Scrapped
31RM Monday, 9 February 1953 Wednesday, 21 December 1977 Tuesday, 1 July 1980 Ballarat (for Linton) Scrapped Derailed between Lilydale and Coldstream
on 19 February 1962.
32RM Tuesday, 24 March 1953 Tuesday, 13 January 1981 N/A Ballarat (for Maryborough) Now at Daylesford Spa Country Railway Being fully restored to running order. Will appear in mid 1950's blue and gold livery. Paired with No.232.
33RM Friday, 7 August 1953 Tuesday, 4 September 1979 Ararat (repairs)
34RM Wednesday, 23 September 1953 Monday, 1 May 1978 Newport Workshops
35RM Friday, 3 September 1954 Thursday, 15 October 1970 Thursday, 15 Oct 1970 Scrapped Scrapped Original spare power unit.
No.100 Thursday, 4 March 1948 45 seats, reduced luggage capacity
No.101 Sunday, 14 March 1948 1978
'No.102 Friday, 6 August 1948
No.103 Tuesday, 15 February 1949 1978
No.104 Wednesday, 1 June 1949 1978 45 seats, reduced luggage capacity
No.105 Thursday, 23 June 1949
No.106 Friday, 22 July 1949 1978
No.107 Monday, 26 September 1949
No.108 Monday, 10 October 1949 1978
No.109 Friday, 4 November 1949 1978
No.110 Tuesday, 20 December 1949 1978
No.111 Friday, 10 February 1950 1971
No.220 Friday, 16 July 1948 1978 45 seats, reduced luggage capacity
No.221 Thursday, 16 September 1948 1978
Mo.222 Monday, 15 November 1948 1978
No.223 Friday, 5 November 1948 1978
No.224 Wednesday, 23 March 1949 1970 Thursday, 15 Oct 1970
No.225 Thursday, 19 May 1949 1980 Allocated to Australian Railway Historical Society Museum at Newport; suballocated to Yarra Valley Tourist Railway. Operational – Restored, paired with 22RM
No.226 Wednesday, 2 July 1952 1977
No.227 Thursday, 31 July 1952 1978
No.228 Wednesday, 10 September 1952 1979 May be paired with 24RM.
No.229 Monday, 6 October 1952 1981
No.230 Thursday, 20 November 1952 1978
No.231 Monday, 9 February 1953 1977
No.232 Tuesday, 24 March 1953 1981 Now at Daylesford Spa Country Railway Being fully restored to running order. Will appear in mid 1950's blue and gold livery. Paired with 32RM.
No.233 Friday, 7 August 1953 1979
No.234 Wednesday, 23 September 1953 1979

280hp and passenger units

Railmotor Entered service Withdrawn Scrapped Status 24 March 1976[11] Current Status Notes
80RM Tuesday, 6 June 1950 Melbourne
81RM Monday, 21 August 1950 Newport Workshops
82RM Tuesday, 12 December 1950 N/A Ballarat North Workshops Now at Daylesford Spa Country Railway Stored pending restoration. Paired with 887A and 891B
83RM Friday, 2 February 1951 Newport Workshops
84RM Wednesday, 21 March 1951 Melbourne
85RM Wednesday, 23 May 1951 Newport (for Werribee) Mornington Railway Stored pending restoration
86RM Tuesday, 17 July 1951 Melbourne
87RM Friday, 3 August 1951 Melbourne
88RM Friday, 7 September 1951 Melbourne
89RM Thursday, 25 October 1951 1980 Melbourne Scrapped
90RM Thursday, 13 December 1951 Ballarat North Workshops
91RM Sunday, 30 December 1951 N/A Crib Point (for Frankston) Now at Daylesford Spa Country Railway Operational, paired with 880A and 887B.
92RM N/A Newport Workshops (Spare power unit) Original spare power unit only
880A Tuesday, 6 June 1950 Now at Daylesford Spa Country Railway Operational, paired with 91RM and 887B.
881A Monday, 21 August 1950
882A Tuesday, 12 December 1950
883A Friday, 2 February 1951
884A Wednesday, 21 March 1951
885A Wednesday, 23 May 1951
886A Tuesday, 17 July 1951
887A Friday, 3 August 1951 Now at Daylesford Spa Country Railway Stored pending restoration. Paired with 82RM and 891B
888A Friday, 7 September 1951
889A Thursday, 25 October 1951
890A Thursday, 13 December 1951
891A Sunday, 30 December 1951
880B Tuesday, 6 June 1950
881B Monday, 21 August 1950
882B Tuesday, 12 December 1950
883B Friday, 2 February 1951
884B Wednesday, 21 March 1951
885B Wednesday, 23 May 1951
886B Tuesday, 17 July 1951
887B Friday, 3 August 1951 Now at Daylesford Spa Country Railway Operational, paired with 880A and 91RM.
888B Friday, 7 September 1951
889B Thursday, 25 October 1951
890B Thursday, 13 December 1951
891B Sunday, 30 December 1951 Now at Daylesford Spa Country Railway Stored pending restoration. Paired with 887A and 82RM.


Railmotor Entered service Withdrawn Scrapped Status 24 March 1976[12] Current Status Notes
50MT 18 October 1948 Bendigo North Workshops
51MT 7 December 1948 Melbourne
52MT 25 February 1949 Linton (for Ballarat)
53MT 24 June 1949 Bendigo North Workshops
54MT 9 July 1949 Ballarat loco depot Fitted with battery
55MT 30 July 1949 1979 Clunes (for Maryborough) All 2nd class, 38 seats
56MT 5 February 1952 Melbourne Fitted with battery
57MT 11 August 1952 30 June 1977 Melbourne
58MT 17 September 1952 Healesville (for Lilydale) 27 April 1983 – Sold to Tallangatta[13]
59MT 24 October 1952 1982 Bendigo North Workshops
60MT 4 December 1952 Melbourne
61MT 17 February 1953 Melbourne
62MT 25 November 1953 Bendigo North Workshops
63MT 23 December 1953 Clunes (for Maryborough)
64MT 18 June 1954 Frankston (for Crib Point or Mornington) 13 October 1983 – Sold to Tallangatta[13]

Model railways

HO scale

Weico has produced whitemetal kits for the 102 hp and 153 hp Walker Railmotors and trailers.

In 2011, Precision Scale Models released a range of Walker 102 hp and 153 hp railmotors in brass, styled for eras 1950-1955 in blue and silver, 1955-1965 in blue and gold with gold roof, and 1965-1980 in blue and gold with blue roof.[14][15] The models were priced at around $1,095 each, and fitted with fully lit, populated interiors and DCC. Trailers were available in packs with 153 hp railmotors, for a total of $1,695. It is known that the series included 102 hp Motor 4RM in blue/gold with gold roof.

Trainbuilder announced a series of brass 102 hp and 153 hp Walker railmotors, to retail at $1175 per Railmotor, or $1695 each for Railmotor plus trailer. Numbers include 1RM or 21RM+50MT with silver roof; 4RM, 7RM, 22RM+52MT, 25RM, 29RM, 31RM, 32RM+56MT with yellow roof, and 6RM, 10RM, 11RM, 23RM+61MT, 27RM, 30RM, 30RM+62MT, 32RM, 33RM, 34RM with blue roof. The range does not include motors 20, 24, 26, 28, 35RM or trailers 51, 53-55, 57-60, 63 or 64MT.[16]

Auscision Models released plastic ready-to-run models of the 280 hp Walker in August 2013.,[17][18] retailing for $395.00 each. Models included 86RM in blue and silver; 84RM in blue and gold with gold roof, and 82RM, 88RM and 91RM in era-appropriate variants of blue and yellow with blue roof.


  • Newsrail December 1981 p.284
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