The 620/720 Class Rail Motors of the New South Wales Government Railways are a class of Diesel Multiple Unit first entering service in 1949.
A number of these valuable workhorses have been restored in Museums and heritage groups. The Rail Motor Society at Paterson in the Hunter Valley has an on-going maintenance and restoration program to keep several of them going well into the future.
In January 1946, approval was given for the construction of 10 two car sets. It was decided that they would be constructed at the New South Wales Government Railways’ Chullora Railway Workshops. They were built with an aluminium body on a steel frame. Each consisted of a 600-class power car and 700 class driving trailer. They were powered by two General Motors 6/71 diesels coupled to an Allison TCLA 655 hydraulic transmission. The power car had 32 economy seats and had provision for eight tonnes of luggage while the trailer seated 24 in economy and 26 in first class. The 600/700s were capable of operating in multiple together and there was at least one instance of four sets operating together.
These useful compact additions to the post -war rolling stock reconstruction efforts made good use of lessons learnt with aircraft construction in the railway workshops during the War, featuring state-of-the-art aluminium bodies on a steel underframe to produce a lightweight high-performance vehicle. The value of this form of construction was amply demonstrated by the fact that 92 vehicles were built to this basic design from 1949 through to 1968. They were designed to operate on branch lines with low traffic volumes but from the 1970’s as services were reduced and branch lines were closed, they were transferred to Newcastle and Wollongong to operate suburban services until withdrawn in 1994.
Class leader set 621/721 commenced trials on 8 August 1961 with a return run to Penrith. Following a second trial to Katoomba two days later 621/721 was delivered to Newcastle on 21 August 1961. The unit entered operational service on 4 September 1961 and from this time became affectionately known as the Red Rattler.
During their service life 621/ 721 spent all their time on Hunter services. It is therefore fitting that this unit is preserved in the Hunter region and has seen a number heritage services since joining the Rail Motor Society’s fleet.
The Rail Motor Society volunteers dedicated many hours into the restoration of the two-car unit which has been repainted in the original Indian Red livery with the traditional “whiskers” lining. In January 2010, 621/721, took to the tracks beautifully restored and to the delight of passengers and rail enthusiasts alike.
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