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V/Line N Class (Order 1) and A Class contract revision (Order 2)[1]
N460 repainted in the 2008 livery at Southern Cross Station.
Power type Diesel Electric
Builder Clyde Engineering
Somerton, Victoria.
Model JT22HC-2
Build date 1984 - 1987
Total production 25
Configuration Co-Co
Gauge Broad (1600 mm, 5 ft 3 in)
Length 18.87 m
Weight 123.00 t
Engine type Order 1: EMD 12-645E3C
Order 2: EMD 12-645E3B
Generator EMD AR10-JJD-D18
Some units converted to AR10-CA5
Traction motors EMD D43
Some units converted to D77
Top speed 120 km/h
Power output 1,680 kW (2,500 hp)
Tractive effort Starting: 289 kN
Continuous: 260 kN at 21 km/h
Career 1985 -
Class N
Number in class 25
Number N451 - N460 (Order 1)
N461 - N475 (Order 2)
Locale Victorian passenger network
Delivered 1985
First run 1985
Current owner V/Line Passenger Pty Ltd

The N Class are a diesel locomotive operated by V/Line from 1985. They have formed the core of Victoria's passenger fleet since introduction, and are seen throughout the state. The N Class members are numbered N451 to N475 with all in service, and most have been named after cities in Victoria. A cab at each end gives the locomotive its distinctive shape, leading to the moniker for the class, "Dog Bones".



The Victorian Railways had been stuck in a 'time warp' through the 1970s, and by the start of the 1980s passenger numbers had fallen to around 3 million per year, due to ageing rolling stock, stagnant timetables, and competition from other forms of transport. The Lonie Report of 1980 recommended cuts to the network, with the general public responding by calling for the State Government to maintain a viable rail network. The government response in February 1981 was the 'New Deal' for Country Passengers, a $115 million commitment to recast country rail passenger services in Victoria.[2]

As part of the 'New Deal' all B class locomotives were to be re-built into the A class for use on passenger services, with ten additional new locomotives (the N class) ordered by the Cain Labour Government who took power in 1982. Tenders closed in 1983 for the first 10 units, with Clyde Engineering awarded the contract due to price and superior technology.[3] By mid-1985 the rising cost of the A class conversions saw the project abandoned at 11 locomotives,[4] and the N class order was increased to 25 using the parts intended for the A class conversions.[5]

The class saw use on main lines all over the state, with the exception of the Gippsland line beyond Traralgon, a restriction that was later lifted. The class also saw regular use on the Melbourne - Adelaide The Overland service, which was Broad Gauge at the time, but not on the Standard Gauge locomotive hauled Melbourne - Sydney intercapital services.[3] As well as being operated by V/Line, the class were hired to Warrnambool line operator West Coast Railway from 1993 until their own locomotives were available in 1995,[6] and to Shepparton line operator Hoys Roadlines between 1993 and 2004 instead of purchasing their own locomotives.[7]

In preparation for privatisation a division was made between V/Line Freight and V/Line Passenger operations in 1995 and was formalised by July 1997,[8] with the N class allocated to the passenger operator and included in the sale to National Express Group in 1999.[9] Before this time the class had also been employed on freight services with a maximum speed of 90 km/h.[3] The head end power was often used to power refrigerated shipping containers.

During the Regional Fast Rail project, a number of shutdowns were carried out to normal passenger services, with the N class being used to haul ballast trains on the Geelong line in 2003/2004,[10] as well as being hired to operator Freight Australia in January 2004 for hauling log and grain services.[11] Since 2007 the class have also been hired to heritage operator Seymour Railway Heritage Centre for use on their trains, as the provision of TPWS equipment permits running at full line speed over the Regional Fast Rail network.[12][13]

Today with the large number of VLocity diesel multiple units in V/Line service, the N class play a lesser role, their main use being peak time commuter services and InterCity services beyond the Regional Fast Rail network. The class are authorised to operate at 115 km/h, but some units have been upgraded with D77/78 traction motors and have a maximum speed of 130 km/h.[14]


The N class feature a frame and body locally designed, but with imported General Motors-EMD technology in the prime mover, generator and control unit, along with locally produced components such as the bogie frames by Bradford Kendall. The class was the first in the world to use the EMD D43 traction motor, similar to but smaller than that used in the G and C classes. Head end power is provided by a separate engine unit in a special compartment located at the number 1 end of the locomotive behind the electrical cabinet. The 240 kW generator provides 415V 3-phase AC power for train lighting, air conditioning and other carriage requirements.[3] The XPT and UK's Intercity 125 both supply 415V 3-phase AC also.

Fitted with 6800 litre fuel tanks the class were capable of running from Melbourne to Adelaide without refuelling[1] and were used on The Overland before the track was converted to standard gauge in 1995. Electrical and electronic components are modular to minimise delays after failures, and a reactive muffler system reduces the exhaust noise level. While they have only been used on broad gauge, they can be converted to standard gauge by moving the wheels inward on the axles and repositioning the braking equipment. [3]

The narrow carbody provides for a catwalk along each side between the cabs, with fold back body panels for maintenance access. The cab is similar to that of the contemporary G class, with an anti-climber beam to prevent upward movement should a collision occur. Twin high impact windscreens are provided, with dual blade wipers. Each cab has room for a two person crew, as well as an instructor if required. Air conditioning is provided, as well as an air-operated retention toilet at one end accessible from the catwalk.The locos were initially provided with automatic staff exchange equipment, but were removed by the 1990s when the use of Electric Staff ended. The space remains in the cab side today.[3]


The N class originally appeared in the V/Line orange and grey livery, and were progressively named after cities in Victoria, except for N453 which is named after the City of Albury, which is in New South Wales. On March 3, 1987 locomotive N470 was returned to the Somerton factory for a ceremony, where brass plaques were affixed at both ends under the builder's plates, reading "N470 completing one million horsepower of diesel-electric locomotives built in Australia by Clyde Engineering Co".[15]

The class were repainted into the current red and blue livery from 1995, with the V/Line logo on the side being altered after the privatisation of V/Line in 1999.[5] As of 2008, most N Class members have received white stripes along the cabfronts, and cowcatchers painted yellow to increase visibility at level crossings in a program started in 2007.

In May 2008 locomotive N468 was repainted into the new V/Line livery of red with grey, white and yellow details. As of September 2008, N460 has also been painted into a variant of the new livery, with extra yellow being applied to the cab in place of the grey. The livery on N468 was modified to match N460 in late 2008. N461 had this livery applied to it in December 2008 as did N466 in February 2009. It is believed that the repainted locos will be converted to standard gauge for use when the upgrading of the Melbourne-Albury/Wodonga line is completed later this year.


Locomotive Name Entered service Owner Status
N451 City of Portland 20 September 1985 V/Line Passenger In Service
N452 Rural City of Wodonga 10 October, 1985 V/Line Passenger In Service
N453 City of Albury 1 November, 1985 V/Line Passenger In Service
N454 City of Horsham 20 November, 1985 V/Line Passenger In Service
N455 City of Swan Hill 19 December, 1985 V/Line Passenger In Service
N456 City of Colac 29 January 1986 V/Line Passenger In Service
N457 City of Mildura 27 February, 1986 V/Line Passenger In Service
N458 City of Maryborough 17 March, 1986 V/Line Passenger In Service
N459 City of Echuca 15 April, 1986 V/Line Passenger In Service
N460 City of Castlemaine 15 May, 1986 V/Line Passenger In Service
N461 City of Ararat 25 July, 1986 V/Line Passenger In Service
N462 City of Shepparton 14 August, 1986 V/Line Passenger In Service
N463 City of Bendigo 4 September, 1986 V/Line Passenger In Service
N464 City of Geelong 29 September, 1986 V/Line Passenger In Service
N465 City of Ballarat 20 October, 1986 V/Line Passenger In Service
N466 City of Warrnambool 31 October, 1986 V/Line Passenger In Service
N467 City of Stawell 26 November, 1986 V/Line Passenger In Service
N468 City of Bairnsdale 19 December, 1986 V/Line Passenger In Service
N469 City of Morwell 29 January 1987 V/Line Passenger In Service
N470 City of Wangaratta 17 February, 1987 V/Line Passenger In Service
N471 City of Benalla 28 February, 1987 V/Line Passenger In Service
N472 City of Sale 27 March, 1987 V/Line Passenger In Service
N473 City of Warragul 28 April, 1987 V/Line Passenger In Service
N474 City of Traralgon 28 May, 1987 V/Line Passenger In Service
N475 City of Moe 6 July, 1987 V/Line Passenger In Service


  1. ^ a b Railmac Publications (1992). Australian Fleetbooks: V/Line locomotives. Kitchner Press. ISBN 0 949817 76 7.  
  2. ^ Scott Martin and Chris Banger (October 2006). "'New Deal' for County Passengers - 25 years on". Newsrail (Australian Railway Historical Society (Victorian Division)): page 318.  
  3. ^ a b c d e f Sid Brown (September 1987). "V/Line's N Class Locos". Newsrail (Australian Railway Historical Society (Victorian Division)): pages 268–269.  
  4. ^ Scott Martin and Chris Banger (October 2006). "'New Deal' for County Passengers - 25 years on". Newsrail (Australian Railway Historical Society (Victorian Division)): page 322.  
  5. ^ a b - N class information
  6. ^ Peter Attenborough (February 2004). "West Coast Railway". Australian Model Railway Magazine: pages 32–34.  
  7. ^ Sid Brown (April 1996). "Train A-Hoy". Newsrail (Australian Railway Historical Society (Victorian Division)).  
  8. ^ "News". Newsrail (Australian Railway Historical Society (Victorian Division)). November 2005.  
  9. ^ Peter Attenborough (June 2006). "V/Line Passenger". Australian Model Railway Magazine: pages 26–29.  
  10. ^ "VICSIG - Geelong Line - Regional Fast Rail". Retrieved 2008-11-17.  
  11. ^ Trains in Victoria Volume 5 (DVD)
  12. ^ "SRHC Blue Train - Seymour to Camperdown". Seymour Railway Heritage Centre. Retrieved 2008-11-17.  
  13. ^ "Miscellaneous VIC sightings (Steamrail Bendigo Cup charter)". Railpage Australia Forums (Victoria). November 12, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-17.  
  14. ^ "Network Service Plan - Addenda". V/Line ~ Network Access Information Pack. 23 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-17.  
  15. ^ "Rollingstock". Newsrail (Australian Railway Historical Society (Victorian Division)): page 181. June 1987.  


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