British-built steam giant returns while veterans make last-chance double-header down under

By Geoff Courtney

TWO Antipodean locomotives, one a UK product and the second homegrown down under, have been wowing enthusiasts and the general public alike after returning to service.

They are former New South Wales Government Railways’ Beyer-Garratt No. 6029 and ex-New Zealand Government Railways’ Class Ww No. 480.

The 4-8-4+4-8-4 Garratt, which weighs 254 tonnes, is the world’s largest operational steam locomotive. It was built by Beyer Peacock in Manchester in 1953, withdrawn in 1972, and in November 2016 it was placed in storage at NSW Rail Museum in Thirlmere, south-west of Sydney, after the financial collapse of Canberra Railway Museum, where it was based.

Waiting for the off: Manchester-built Beyer-Garratt No. 6029 at Mount Victoria station, New South Wales, with a shuttle to Lithgow on May 26. The 4-8-4+4-8-4, which has recently returned to railtour duty after a change of owners, was a star of celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the railway to the town. MICHAEL KEMP

Last November it was bought by Phil Davis and David Sommerville, and is now back on railtour duty, doing what it does best – hauling packed trains, being the centre of attention and being admired by everyone who sees it.

On May 26 it took passengers on a 75-mile main line journey from Sydney to Mount Victoria station in the Blue Mountains, where it helped celebrate the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the railway to the town. Later that day it ran three return shuttles to Lithgow 12 miles away, worked three more the following day and returned to Thirlmere that evening without passengers.

NSW Rail Museum is to be the giant Garratt’s home for at least the next year following an agreement between its new owners and Transport Heritage NSW, which runs NSW Rail Museum and is a division of the state government.

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