New Zealand DF class locomotive (1979)

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New Zealand DF / DFT class (General Motors)
DFT KiwiRail.jpg
DFT 7295 departing the Ashburton yard, 20 February 2013. Note the enlarged driver's side windscreen.
Type and origin
Power type Diesel-electric
Builder General Motors Diesel (GMD), Canada (builder)
Tranz Rail (rebuilder)
Model DF EMD GL22MC
DFT EMD GT22MC
Build date 1979 - 1981
1992 - 1997 (rebuilt as DFT class)
Specifications
Configuration:
 • UIC Co-Co
Gauge 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm)
Length 16.7 metres (54 ft 9 in)
Adhesive weight 86 tonnes (85 long tons; 95 short tons)
Loco weight 86 tonnes (85 long tons; 95 short tons)
Prime mover GM 12-645E (DF)
GM 12-645E3C (DFT)
RPM range 900 rpm
Engine type V12 Diesel engine
Aspiration Roots-type supercharger (DF)
Turbocharger (DFT)
Displacement 126.84 litres (7,740 cu in)
Traction motors Six D29cc
Cylinders 12
Cylinder size 230 mm × 254 mm (9.1 in × 10.0 in)
Performance figures
Maximum speed 113 km/h (70 mph)
Power output 1,230 kW (1,650 hp) DF
1,800 kW (2,400 hp) DFT
Tractive effort 198 kN (45,000 lbf)
Career
Number in class 30 (16 DFBs and 14 DFTs)
Numbers 1651 - 1670[n 1] (original DF)
6006 - 6317 (TMS DF)
7008 - 7348 (DFT)
Locale All of New Zealand
First run 1979
Disposition 17 DFBs in service
9 DFTs in service
2 DFTs withdrawn
2 DFT undergoing overhaul to DFB

The New Zealand DF class locomotive of 1979 is a class of 30 Co-Co diesel-electric locomotives built by General Motors Diesel of Canada between 1979 and 1981. Between 1992 and 1997, all the locomotives were rebuilt as the DFT class, a turbocharged version of the DF.

The class should not be confused with the English Electric NZR DF class of 1954; as all of the old DFs had been retired by mid-1975, the 'DF' classification was free to be re-used.

Design[edit]

The DFs were powered by an EMD 12-645 engine, the same prime mover chosen for the DC class, but were able to make greater use of that power by having six traction motors and Co-Co arrangement as opposed to the four traction motors and A1A-A1A wheel arrangement of the DCs. This gave the DF several advantages: a tractive effort of 198 kN (45,000 lbf) and a maximum speed of 113 km/h (70 mph), compared to the DCs 140 kN (31,000 lbf) and 90–100 km/h (56–62 mph). The most noticeable visual difference between the DF and the DC is that the DF is considerably longer with the headlight arrangement on the cabs differing: the DC has the lights arranged horizontally, while the DF has them arranged vertically. The DF is more often confused with the DX class, as both are of similar dimensions though the DX also has the horizontal headlight arrangement.

In service[edit]

History[edit]

DFT 7145 in Ahuriri Yard, Napier - 8 June 2003

The first 20 members of the DF class arrived in New Zealand in 1979, and initially ten worked on the East Coast Main Trunk, Kinleith, Rotorua and Murupara Branches, making use of the recently opened Kaimai Tunnel; and ten worked freight trains on the Main North Line between Christchurch and Picton. At the time, they were the most powerful locomotives in the South Island, with a total power output of 1,230 kilowatts (1,650 hp).

The next ten DFs arrived in 1981 and were also sent to work in the Bay of Plenty, and some to supplement the South Island fleet, which by this time had also entered service on the Main South Line and Midland Line as far as Arthur's Pass.

In 1986 the DF fleet was reallocated, concentrating 22 of the class in the South Island, and reallocating the remaining eight North Island DFs from Hamilton to Wellington, for use between Wellington and Gisborne, on the Wairarapa Line and Palmerston North - Gisborne Line (PNGL).

In 1988, the fleet was again reallocated due to the opening of the NIMT electrification, with approximately 20 DFs based in Auckland for use in Northland, and between Auckland, Hamilton and the ECMT and its branches. The remaining units were based in the South Island. This removed the DFs from the lower North Island - Gisborne routes, and reduced the number in the South Island.

Rebuilding to DFT[edit]

DFT 7295 in Dunedin in former Tranz Rail "Bumble Bee" colours

The main downside to the DF was the lack of power output from the diesel engine. This hindered the DF when it came to hauling heavy freight trains out of multiple.

In 1992, DF 6260 was rebuilt with a new turbocharged diesel engine and some other minor alterations. The rebuilt DF was reclassified DFT (the T standing for turbocharged), and renumbered 7008.

After 18 months of trial, the decision was made to convert the remaining 29 DFs to DFTs, with the last unit converted in 1997. The turbocharged locos can now generate 1,800 kW (2,400 hp), and now comfortably fits between the DC class and the DX class in terms of power output.

Current[edit]

The class remains predominantly employed on general freight duties on all routes nationwide, with the general exception of through trains on the NIMT and the Midland Line coal workings. The units operate both in multiple with the other mainline locomotive classes, or as single units, depending on availability and the level of motive power required. Since October 2016, DFBs that are fitted with a fire suppression system, have been assigned to all the North Island KiwiRail Scenic Journeys passenger services, and are occasionally used on the Coastal Pacific in the South Island.

Auckland Transport service[edit]

DFB 7010 at Morningside station
DFB 7010 at Morningside station with a 6-car SA set

Three DFTs/DFBs were in service in Auckland hauling six-car SA trains on the Auckland suburban network, leased by Auckland Transport. These trains were made up of ex-British Rail Mark 2 carriages, rebuilt for use on Auckland commuter trains. Most were in four- or five-car configurations with a DC class locomotive. The locomotives used on 6-car SA sets were DFBs 7010, 7200 and 7348, and DFT 7104. These began service on 20 September 2010 with the introduction of a new timetable. DFB 7010 was released back to KiwiRail in November 2012 leaving three units operating. Other DFTs have been assigned periodically to cover for when these units undergo maintenance, with DFT 7051 and DFB 7186 most recently filling this role during the 2011 Rugby World Cup when extra six-car trains were in use.

Wairarapa Connection service[edit]

Since July 2015, up to five DFB locomotives have been the main motive power on the Wairarapa Connection passenger service and Masterton to Wellington freight services, replacing six of DC class that were used on the service since mid-2014.[1] The units leased to the Greater Wellington Regional Council on the service were taken to Hutt Workshops to be fitted with a fire suppression. In July 2016, Transdev Wellington took over operation of the Wairarapa Connection service, with KiwiRail still providing and operating the DFB locomotives on a "hook-and-tow" basis.

Numbering[edit]

In common with NZR practice at the time the class was numbered with reference to the power output (1,650 hp), with the first 20 units numbered 1651 to 1670. With the introduction of the TMS system in 1980 these locomotives were renumbered in order with new four digit numbers starting with 6 in which the last number acted as a check number; DF 1651 became DF 6006 and DF 1670 becoming DF 6202. The second batch all received TMS numbers while under construction. They were then renumbered again when rebuilt to DFT standard in the 7xxx series, with these numbers allocated as they were rebuilt with no reference to their previous number.

Vision upgrades[edit]

Prior to the rebuilding to DFT standard, the locomotives received an upgrade in the late 1980s with the introduction of single-manning to improve visibility for the driver; this involved a large single front window replacing the original configuration that had two small windows instead.

In the late 1990s the driver's side front window was enlarged to prevent eye and back problems for drivers focusing on the mainline ahead. The pillar separating the driver's window and the central window created a potentially dangerous blind spot and caused a distraction for drivers as their vision had to adjust to focus, or alternatively adopt unnatural sitting positions. Drivers started to notice left-eye fatigue and back issues after long shifts or extended periods driving the locomotives. The pillar was moved 100mm to the left with the top and bottom sills was raised and lowered at the same time to give drivers a better view of the track immediately in front and below. Fewer issues have been reported since.

Livery[edit]

DFTs 7023 and 7036 approaching with a freight train approaching Tinwald

Since the DFs were introduced in the International Orange or "Fruit Salad" livery – orange long-hood, grey cab, and yellow ends with large white numbers on the long hood, which was the standard livery for NZ Railways until the late 1980s, they have been repainted in several liveries since:

  • International Orange (Fruit Salad) - The livery as introduced. All wore this livery until being converted to DFTs, with 6064 being the last to wear the livery until 1997.
  • Flying Tomato (same as the fruit salad livery, but without the grey cab) - which DFs 6006, 6012, 6029 and 6058 wore from the late 1980s to the early 1990s, when they were repainted back in the fruit salad livery.
  • NZ Rail Blue - The orange was replaced by a mid-blue and with the "New Zealand Rail" logo on the long hood with numbers painted on the cab sides. The first several DFTs that were converted were repainted in the livery, but it was replaced with the Cato Blue livery when NZ Rail was replaced by Tranz Rail in 1995 and the class were being repainted in the Cato Blue livery. Some locomotives received Cato Blue sticker patches over the long hood lettering with the Tranz Rail logo attached.
  • Cato Blue - A variation of NZ Rail Blue upon the launch of "Tranz Rail" in late 1995, where a sky-blue colour (Cato Blue) replaced the mid-blue and the Tranz Rail "winged" logo was placed on the long hood.
  • Bumble Bee - The livery consisted of the long hood being black, with the hood end, short hood and cab painted yellow. The first two DFTs repainted wore the Tranz Rail winged logo on the long hood. Later locomotives instead had block "TR" letters in yellow on the long hood.
  • MAXX Blue - A variation of Bumble Bee with dark blue on the long hood (with MAXX logo displayed), although with black long hood top and without the extended yellow rear area on the long hood. 7010, 7104, 7200 and 7348 were the only units to wear the livery.
  • Toll Green (Corncob) - A variation of Bumble Bee where Toll Green was substituted for the black, a lemon yellow replaced the former yellow colour used and the Toll Logo displayed on the long hood in addition to Toll logos on each end of the loco with three green whisker stripes. Later after Toll sold their stake in the railways in 2008, KiwiRail patch stickers were placed over the Toll logos.
  • KiwiRail Phase 1 - The first introduced KiwiRail livery, with DFT 7008 being the only example to receive it.
  • KiwiRail Phase 2- The revised livery, which is now the most common livery on the class.

In addition, DF 6133 was one of two locomotives to wear the Tasman Forestry livery, with brown long-hood and cab with yellow ends.

Ownership[edit]

In December 1996, Tranz Rail sold the DFT class to the General American Transportation Corporation (GATX, an American locomotive and rolling stock leasing company) for $131.5 million. It then leased the locomotives back for a period of 12 years. The lease ended on 19 December 2008 with ownership of the locomotives going to Tranz Rail's successor, KiwiRail, which paid a further $36.6m to buy the locomotives back.[2]

Sub-classes[edit]

In the early 2000s a number of DFTs were fitted with the Maxitrax wheelslip control and received an internal sub-classification of DFM. This was used in the Amicus computer system only, and the classification was initially not applied to the locomotives themselves which remained identified as DFT. Although Maxitrax has since been removed from these locomotives the units some of the units that were classed as DFM have had the designation applied to them when repainted into the KiwiRail livery.

Between 2006/07, Toll Rail installed the Brightstar engine management system into twelve DFT class locomotives, with these locomotives then officially reclassified as DFB. In June 2016, KiwiRail re-introduced the programme for a number of DFTs that were stored at Hutt Workshops. As of October 2017, two of these units are being converted and are undergoing the current "DFB overhaul" programme.[3]

Withdrawals[edit]

DFT 7117 was withdrawn in July 2011 following an accident north of Kaikoura a month earlier.[4] It has been officially written off, and remains stored at Hutt Workshops where it is currently used as a source of spare parts for other units. It was believed that the other 17 remaining DFTs would be withdrawn after the second batch of DLs arrive, owing to the decision to refurbish only the 10 DFB locomotives. However, despite the second 20 DLs now being in service, a total of twelve (including 7117) were withdrawn.

In May 2016 KiwiRail confirmed that at least three withdrawn DFTs were candidates for DFB conversion and that 7104 was being reinstated.[5] In June it was revealed some withdrawn DFTs would indeed be converted to DFBs with the option of the remaining DFT fleet being converted in the near future. They will be fitted with Brightstar and undergo the 'DFB overhaul' program on reinstatement. The first of these have already begun with 7282 starting in June 2016.[6]

Accidents[edit]

A number of DF class locomotives have been involved in derailments and level crossing accidents that have required repair. The most significant incident involving a DF unit was a head-on collision between DFT 7254 and DC 4202 and DX 5448 at Waipahi in Otago on 20 October 1999, in which the driver of the DFT was killed and the locomotive suffered considerable frontal damage. After a lengthy period in storage, it was fully rebuilt and returned to service renumbered as DFB 7348.

Class register[edit]

Key: In service On lease Out of service Preserved Overhaul/Repair Scrapped
TMS No. (DFT) TMS No. (DF) Original No. Introduced Withdrawn Current livery Status Allocated to Notes
DFT 7008 DF 6260 February 1981 KiwiRail Phase 1 In service North Island First DFT rebuild. Damaged after hitting a truck near Temuka, March 2008. Repaired and received KiwiRail livery.[7]
DFB 7010 DF 6300 February 1981 KiwiRail In service North Island
DFB 7023 DF 6248 February 1981 KiwiRail In service North Island
DFT 7036 DF 6317 February 1981 KiwiRail In service South Island
DFB 7049 DF 6219 February 1981 KiwiRail In service North Island
DFT 7051 DF 6231 February 1981 KiwiRail In service North Island
DFT 7064 DF 6254 February 1981 February 2015 Tranz Rail Blue Withdrawn Involved in a derailment along with DC 4006 descending the Westmere Bank north of Wanganui in September 2000[8] Stored at Hutt Workshops.
DFT 7077 DF 6225 February 1981 KiwiRail Under overhaul North Island Undergoing DFB conversion and full overhaul at Hutt workshops.
DFT 7092 DF 6283 February 1981 KiwiRail In service North Island
DFT 7104 DF 6277 February 1981 KiwiRail In service North Island
DFT 7117 DF 6156 DF 1665 September 1979 July 2011[9] Tranz Rail Blue Withdrawn Withdrawn after suffering heavy damage when derailed after running into a landslide near Kaikoura on 21 June 2011[10] Stored at Hutt Workshops.[11] Written off, c2014.
DFT 7132 DF 6191 DF 1669 October 1979 KiwiRail In service South Island
DFT 7145 DF 6012 DF 1652 October 1979 KiwiRail In service[12] South Island
DFB 7158 DF 6202 DF 1670 September 1979 KiwiRail In service North Island Collided with cement mixer truck on level crossing at Rolleston, August 1993.[13]
DFB 7160 DF 6087 DF 1659 November 1979 KiwiRail In service North Island
DFB 7173 DF 6029 DF 1653 September 1979 KiwiRail In service North Island
DFB 7186 DF 6070 DF 1658 September 1979 KiwiRail In service North Island
DFB 7199 DF 6110 DF 1662 October 1979 KiwiRail In service North Island
DFB 7200 DF 6185 DF 1668 September 1979 KiwiRail In service North Island
DFB 7213 DF 6104 DF 1661 September 1979 KiwiRail In service North Island
DFT 7226 DF 6035 DF 1654 November 1979 KiwiRail In service North Island
DFB 7239 DF 6006 DF 1651 October 1979 KiwiRail In service South island
DFB 7241 DF 6093 DF 1660 October 1979 KiwiRail In service South Island
DFB 7267 DF 6179 DF 1667 October 1979 KiwiRail In service North Island
DFB 7282 DF 6041 DF 1655 August 1979 KiwiRail In service North Island
DFT 7295 DF 6127 DF 1663 October 1979 KiwiRail In service[14] South Island
DFB 7307 DF 6133 DF 1664 October 1979 KiwiRail In service North Island Received Tasman Forestry livery in November 1991 before DFT rebuild.
DFB 7322 DF 6162 DF 1666 September 1979 KiwiRail In service North Island
DFT 7335 DF 6064 DF 1657 July 1979 Tranz Rail Blue Under overhaul North Island Undergoing DFB conversion and full overhaul at Hutt workshops.[15]
DFB 7348 DF 6058 DF 1656 August 1979 KiwiRail In service North Island Formerly DFT 7254. Renumbered when returned to service after involvement in a fatal collision at Waipahi in 1999[16]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Norman, Emily (2 July 2015). "Faster locos mean timely rides - council". Wairarapa Times-Age. Retrieved 7 August 2015. 
  2. ^ NZPA (20 August 2007). "Rolling stock decision looms for Toll NZ". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 29 December 2011. 
  3. ^ "Railfan". 23 (3). Triple M Publications. June 2017. ISSN 1173-2229. 
  4. ^ "Withdrawn locomotives (Official Information Act request)". fyi.org.nz. KiwiRail. 29 July 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2016. 
  5. ^ "Clarification on Locomotive Status (Official Information Act request)". fyi.org.nz. KiwiRail. 12 May 2016. Retrieved 23 December 2016. 
  6. ^ "Railfan". 23 (3). Triple M Publications. June 2017. ISSN 1173-2229. 
  7. ^ "Rail Reports". TAIC. Retrieved 1 December 2011. 
  8. ^ "Rail Reports". TAIC. Retrieved 1 December 2011. 
  9. ^ "Withdrawn locomotives (Official Information Act request)". fyi.org.nz. KiwiRail. 29 July 2014. Retrieved 13 November 2017. 
  10. ^ "Freight train slips off track". stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 25 June 2011. 
  11. ^ "Railfan". 19 (2). Triple M Publications. March 2013. ISSN 1173-2229. 
  12. ^ "Statuses of DFT's 7132, 7145 and 7295? (Official Information Act request)". fyi.org.nz. KiwiRail. 6 December 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  13. ^ "Passenger express train Southerner DF6202, collision with motor vehicle, Rolleston Canterbury, 25 August 1993". Transport Accident Investigation Commission. Retrieved 31 October 2015. 
  14. ^ "Statuses of DFT's 7132, 7145 and 7295? (Official Information Act request)". fyi.org.nz. KiwiRail. 6 December 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  15. ^ "Railfan". 23 (3). Triple M Publications. June 2017. ISSN 1173-2229. 
  16. ^ "Rail Reports". TAIC. Retrieved 1 December 2011. 

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ten locomotives never received road numbers, as they began service after the introduction of TMS in 1980.
  • "NZR Locomotives and Railcars 1983". T A McGavin. New Zealand Railway and Locomotive Society : Wellington, New Zealand : 1983.
  • "New Zealand Railway Diesels". E J McClare. Southern Press : Wellington, New Zealand.