Rail industry news (Australia, New Zealand), Government, State, Heritage Trains

Home for NSW’s Rail History opens in Sydney’s West

NSW Railway’s historic locomotives and carriages have found a new home in the heart of Western Sydney.

The $9.4 million Chullora Heritage Hub is a centralised storage facility for 50 of the state’s 220 heritage locomotives and carriages.

The historic trains have travelled by road and rail to the former Tank Annex Building at the Chullora Railway Workshops from three separate sites at Eveleigh, Thirlmere and Broadmeadow.

Transport Minister Jo Haylen explained why the new facility was important.

“For the first time, the majority of our heritage rail collection will be sitting undercover and out of the elements, where they will be lovingly preserved by our dedicated volunteers,” she said.

“340 jobs were created in Western Sydney during the renovation of this historic building, which will now house our cherished railway past for the people of NSW to enjoy for generations to come.

“It’s vital we preserve our heritage fleet so the magic of being part of life on our railways isn’t forgotten and continues to inspire.”

The building has received a thorough upgrade to ensure the protection and preservation of the historic collection with environmental, security and fire safety improvements delivered.

While the new location is not open for public viewing due to its function as a maintenance facility, it will give volunteers from Transport Heritage NSW the space they need to work on these one-of-a-kind engines.

The site at Chullora has been an important location for railway maintenance for more than a century. It was first established in 1913, and many of the buildings within the precinct date from the 1920s, with the Tank Annex building operating as part of the maintenance facility until 1994.

Among the rollingstock moving into the new building are:

  • Locomotive 1219, this locomotive and its class dominated express and mail train services in the late 1800s, with many hauling branch line services right up until the 1950s.
  • Locomotive 5096 was one of 280 introduced from 1890. This was the largest class of locomotives used anywhere in Australia and hauled goods trains more than two million kilometres until its retirement in 1965.
  • Locomotive 2606 was one of 20 tank locomotives manufactured by Scottish company Dubs and Co. Introduced from early 1892, they were supposed to assist engines travel up the mountain from Penrith to Katoomba. Limited water tank capacity and problems negotiating the numerous curves hindered their work, so they were reassigned to hauling coal trains to Waterfall and Newcastle. Before its retirement in 1970, 2606 spent its later years shunting carriages into position at Central Station.

Another 70 locomotives and carriages will remain at the NSW Rail Museum in Thirlmere, including operational assets like the famous 3801. The museum is open to the public 7 days a week, with heritage train rides operating every weekend on the newly refurbished Loop Line.

All historic trains are operated by Transport Heritage NSW.

For more information, visit Transport Heritage NSW.