Orange is the New Blue!

The cat’s out of the bag! For those of you wondering where X54 has been hiding for the past few months, we can reveal that the loco has been undergoing rust repairs and preparation for a new coat of paint at Goulburn Roundhouse.

The preparation work has been spearheaded by our maintenance manager Lorne Brack, who has also used the project to pass skills on to Tracy Harris of Vintage Rail Journeys. Tracy is currently undertaking an apprenticeship in welding and boiler making, and the pair’s efforts speak for themselves!

Lorne and Tracy at work
Rust repairs underway, prior to grinding

Lorne says: “Unlike a new build, restoration in many ways requires greater skill to complete the task. Whilst often challenging, it brings a sense of accomplishment.”

X54 has now been turned out in a unique scheme – the former VicRail ‘Teacup’ livery – and it will be the only operating unit to wear these colours when it returns to service later this month. This striking tangerine and silver scheme was introduced in 1981 as part of a rebranding of Victorian Railways, and quickly gained the nickname ‘Teacup’ after the styling of the VicRail logo. The livery was to prove short lived however, as VicRail morphed into V/Line in 1983, and the latter’s more familiar orange and grey scheme became the norm.

X54 resplendent in its new ‘Teacup’ scheme at Goulburn Roundhouse. Photos: Aaron Hobson

The Teacup livery was somewhat polarising even in its day, and X54’s will be no exception! Our repaint offers the answer to an historic ‘what if’ scenario, as while it was initially intended to outshop the X class locomotives in the Teacup livery, none had been painted by the time VicRail became V/Line, and therefore no X class loco ever wore the VicRail colours – until now! While the break from tradition is sure to turn heads and maybe even ruffle a feather or two, it’s just a coat of paint – even if it’s not your ‘cup of tea’, nothing lasts forever…

Enthusiasts are encouraged to grab their photos while they can, as who knows what the future has in store for X54’s livery… With a few more finishing touches still to come over the next few weeks, X54 is set to make its return to the mainline very soon. ‘Teacup’ is coming to a Cockatoo Run near you – keep an eye out on our website and social media for further announcements!

The work on repainting X54 has been made possible through the Transport Heritage Grants Program, run by the Royal Australian Historical Society – our heartfelt thanks go to RAHS and THNSW for their assistance in bringing this project to reality.

Whilst in Goulburn, X54’s second cooling fan has also been removed for overhaul. This is one of many components that needs specialist attention in order to ensure the locomotive remains in excellent running order for many years to come. Should you wish to contribute or otherwise assist, please contact us or see our Sponsorship Page.

Goods Road Tours to feature 42105


This Sunday’s Goods Roads Tours will be hauled by 42105, courtesy of our friends at Chumrail! Join us for an 80-minute shuttle from Sydney Central traversing the Sydney Freight Network, a rare opportunity to traverse the freight lines and see what goes into keeping Australia’s largest city moving behind the scenes. More information on these unique shuttles can be found on our Mainline Tours page.

Limited seats available – book now to avoid disappointment!
– Sunday 28th January, 11am:
– Sunday 28th January, 1pm:

ECHR Wins Greater Illawarra Community Grant

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East Coast Heritage Rail was successful last year in obtaining $2,000 in community funding from the Illawarra branch of the Greater Bank, by securing the largest amount of public votes in the June 2022 round of the Greater Illawarra Community Funding Program. Further information can be found here: Heritage trains on track for greater support | Greater Bank

Brett Rowling and Campbell Ellis accept the cheque on behalf of ECHR

The funds have been used to upgrade carriage lighting from traditional fluorescent tubes and incandescent bulbs to suitable LED replacements. This has included the installation of new LED tubes in MFS2096, and LED globes in MFS2145 and XFS2015.

Greater Bank’s Illawarra Regional Sales Manager, Greg Creagan, noted the vital role which rail has long played in the Illawarra:

“Our coal and steel industries and our port have relied heavily on trains for more than a century, helping make the region what it is today. It’s great to be able to make a contribution to help ensure this important history is not forgotten.” 

These upgrades not only provide a longer term greener solution, but also reduce energy consumption from the carriage battery system – allowing lights to continue to burn brightly on our Cockatoo Run! Our new lighting was sourced with thanks to Electrical Products Pty Ltd.

42105 Returns to the Rails

ECHR are proud to have recently partnered with Chumrail to assist in the recommissioning process for loco 42105, which recently made its triumphant return to the rails after a 3 year restoration. The vintage bulldog streamliner was officially relaunched on the October Cockatoo Run, and Channel 9 even came along for the ride!

Owned by Chumrail, ECHR ran 42105's reactivation trials after its restoration, followed by two Cockatoo Runs in September - October 2023 (Photo: Callum Bracht)
42105 and 42101 lead the October Cockatoo Run through Ocean View.
Photo: Callum Bracht

The sister unit to our very own 42101, 42105 entered service in 1966 and after 20 years on the Government Railways was sold to Northern Rivers Railroad, operating out of Casino during the late 90s and 2000s, including the Ritz Rail tourist trains on the Murwillumbah branch. Under NRR ownership it was painted in a striking livery of yellow, orange and blue, before the company was renamed Interail in 2002 and later rolled into the QR National brand.

In QR National service, 42105 operated as an assistant engine on east coast intermodal freight services until late 2012. The engine was transferred to storage in Ettamogah in January 2013 in a spectacular movement along with 8 other ‘bulldog’ streamliners, and moved to Goulburn for further storage in May 2014. 42103 and 42105 were acquired by Craig Prior of Chumrail in August 2017, and after the former’s return to service the restoration of 42105 kicked into full swing in 2020. A 3-year restoration ensued, with significant help from Adam Sayer, recognised in the loco’s new name ‘Chumsayer’.

After a successful light engine trial from Goulburn to Medway on 31st August in company with ECHR’s X54 and 42101 (the latter also under testing after repairs), the two 421s ran light engine to Sydney for further trials. 42105 underwent a load trial to Waterfall with 42101 and the ECHR consist on 17th September, and after completing this the final test was a turn with 42101 on The Cockatoo Run on 24th September, which it passed quite literally with flying colours! The engine was officially welcomed back into revenue service on the 15th October Cockatoo Run, and has been busy since then on heritage trips around NSW with various operators.

42105 and 42101 battle uphill through Farmborough Heights on the September Cockatoo Run. Photo: Brenden Grace
42105 and 42101 power the October Cockatoo Run home through Engadine.
Photo: Ethan Yiu

We anticipate that 42105 will continue to be an occasional feature on future Cockatoo Runs, so keep an eye out on our social media channels to see when you can next take a ride behind it!

Maintenance Update: To Port!

In 2017 we moved on from Eveleigh due to changes in and around the site and the tenure arrangements. We’re setting ourselves up in the Illawarra and enjoying some great tenure with fantastic supporters like Bluescope and UGL. Down in Port Kembla in particular, we have made the most of the COVID downtime.

Our Port Kembla team have been busy repainting the train from one end to the other. Huge thanks to our friends at Dulux for the kind supply of Gloss Enamel oil based paints. Worth doing, worth Dulux!



Its more than just prettying them up – a good paint system protects the steelwork and the carriage structure. Fresh paint does look good too though! To save the cutting in, we just slip the fittings off and put them back on at the end:



After several months painting the running set, it’s a reminder the CPJ lounge car needs some love later on – watch this space!

We didn’t stop at the bodywork though – the frames were next, and the steps came off for stripping. We went with gloss black, and high vis yellow non-slip treads:



The slack adjuster bracket didn’t go without its share – gloss white was used to highlight the position of the slack adjuster at a glance, to help our maintenance team doing pre-trip inspections. Gloss black frames and fresh gloss white lettering look the goods, now the bogies stand out though!



We didn’t stop at the frame either – we pressure cleaned, primed and glossed the under floor of the carriages to protect the steel work:

We’re an inclusive mob at ECHR – the bogies didn’t go without in the end…

But we didn’t stop there, all the battery boxes on the carriages received freshly rebuilt battery boxes. These were full strip downs, back to the basic metal components and fresh structural ply:



Working from home is nothing new to us!

Brett and Chris reckoned the easiest cars to re-fit battery boxes by far were the 12 wheelers with their 4 truss rods:

But we didn’t stop there either! The SFN received a plumbing upgrade, from the old rusty steel water pipes to fresh modern poly pipes. We also moved away from the troublesome air operated water service units, upgrading to an electric water pump – we’ll work through upgrading the other cars too as time permits. Also installed were some new stop cocks that help us isolate the toilets, something we could have done with in the past! Thanks to our friends at Rob Lemme plumbing for provision of their excellent plumbing services.



Inside the cars, Chris made up some new in house quick release fasteners for the emergency steps:

Life after Eveleigh isn’t all bad – life’s what you make it, and our hunger to keep our heritage trains running helps to promote regional tourism and linking the city with the regions! Stay tuned for more maintenance updates with the new ECHR Projects blog – until next time!

Welcome to the Fleet, X54!

East Coast Heritage Rail is proud to announce the purchase of former Victorian Railways third series X class locomotive X54. We plan to return X54 to operational condition, which will allow us to expand our tour offerings.

Photo: Bob Richardson

X54 was built by Clyde Engineering at their Rosewater plant in Adelaide, and entered service with the Victorian Railways in June 1976. Working on both broad gauge and standard gauge, the X class could be found all over the Victorian Railways system, working both freight and passenger trains. Members of the class on broad gauge could often be found on the Melbourne to Adelaide corridor, working both The Overland passenger train or the ‘Jet’ express goods services between the two cities.

The third series X class were the first Victorian locos to venture into NSW under the ‘through working’ arrangement, and in the early 1980’s could often be seen on interstate express passenger trains such as the Southern Aurora, Spirit of Progress and Intercapital Daylight between Sydney and Melbourne.

When the Victorian Railways restructured in 1983, ownership of the X class passed to V/Line. All remained in Government ownership until 1999 when V/Line Freight was privatised and sold to Freight Victoria, later becoming Freight Australia as their operations expanded in 2000. In 2004 Freight Australia was purchased by Pacific National. As a condition of this sale, X54 was one of two X class locomotives that were gifted to the then newly established Queensland Rail National, to help with their start-up of interstate standard gauge operations. It remained in service with QR National (becoming Aurizon in 2012) up until Aurizon ceased operating intermodal freight in December 2017. It saw use for a brief period in 2018 to support Aurizon’s Hunter Valley coal and grain operations, however it was placed into storage in late 2018 and has not been used since.

We look forward to reactivating X54 and bringing it to you on our future tours – watch this space!

Farewell C3704

The more eagle-eyed observer on a Redfern train this morning may have noticed the plaza at South Eveleigh looking a little barer than it did yesterday… After more than 20 years of faithful service as both our office and an important part of the South Eveleigh’s rail heritage, it was sadly time to say goodbye to our Sputnik motor carriage C3704 last night as redevelopment of the site by Mirvac has necessitated our relocation elsewhere.

Rest assured the carriage has departed for a peaceful retirement in private ownership on the rural North Coast of NSW, and our operations will continue as normal despite this change. Given our greatly increased use of technology we are now able to operate our tours with less of a physical office presence, and will continue to deliver the heritage rail experiences that we know our passengers love!

Below are some photos of the carriage being loaded onto a truck for its trip north.

A New Chapter – East Coast Heritage Rail

Our Cockatoo Run, proudly operated since 1995, Hawkesbury River Express and various one-off tours that we run are what our passengers know and love. Whilst we operate many interesting and important rolling stock items that the rail community loves to see, the travelling public value the experience of our heritage rail tours, enjoying time with family and friends, and reflecting on the role that rail has played in developing Australia.

Accordingly, our name is no longer reflective of what we do. And more importantly, what we want to do in the future. It is therefore a natural time for East Coast Heritage Rail to be born.

We wish to be a safe, sustainable and collaborative organisation that works to improve and promote heritage rail, across all of Australia. We look forward to working with other groups and people to help everyone achieve their and our goals, and for the heritage rail sector to be stronger as a result.

ECHR is an organisation whose purpose is to preserve railway heritage for the enjoyment of the public by operating tour trains. We are a not-for profit company, and all surplus funds are directed to ongoing restoration and maintenance of our trains.

ECHR operates day tours and charters out of Sydney as well as scheduled services to the Illawarra and Southern Highlands.  If you would like more information on these tours please visit our website,, call our office on 1300 65 3801, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin.

Note to regulators, suppliers and customers:
Our legal name, ACN and ABN (64 002 951 671) remain unchanged, and all associated trademarks and brands remain the property of 3801 Limited. We remain accredited as a railway operator and registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission. The transition will be a gradual one, with logos, branding and uniforms updated across our organisation as time and funding permits.

A New Beginning

We are excited to announce that we can shortly start tours again and share our beautiful heritage trains with you, including on our Cockatoo Run tour and others.

We thank everyone for their support over the last two years. These years have been perhaps toughest of the company’s lifetime.

We recently re-located some of the fleet to a private siding in the Hunter Valley with ready access to the main line. We are also working on other stabling sites to support our operations, and to which we can take the remaining non-operational vehicles from the Large Erecting Shop.

Some facts…
1. We are financially stable.
2. We are accredited.
3. We continue to be supported by our locomotive partners.
4. We are planning tours and will release dates for these soon.

What is next?

To support these tours, we are reconnecting with our volunteers and will soon start retraining and requalification activities with them.

If you would like to volunteer with us (even if you have not worked with us before), please contact us through our website. Key roles include train crews, passenger attendants, and carriage preparation teams.

We are also looking for people who may wish to join the management team in a range of roles (particularly operations and technology). Please contact us if you are interested (also via the website).

All roles are on a voluntary basis for the foreseeable future.

We also look forward to working closer with other heritage organisations for the betterment of the industry on the whole and believe that there are many opportunities for collaboration to make this happen.

When further information becomes available it will be passed onto you. We look forward to working again with you and promoting rail heritage!

The Board and Management Team

We are packing – Can you help?

As part of their response to the “Fresh Start” report, Transport for NSW have committed to relaunching the Large Erecting Shop (LES) at Eveleigh (our home for the last 30 years) as an open access, multiuser running shed for any and all heritage operators to use. We look forward to using the new facility along side other heritage rail operators, with whom we share our passion and work with on a regular basis to support each other.

So that the LES can be assessed by an engineering team and the much needed works completed, we need to pack up as much of our property as we can so that we can move it to off-site storage locations. With the LES being our home for the past 30 years our collection of heritage items is extensive.

We are asking you for ant any donations that you could give us in support, such as heavy duty storage boxes, transport assistance (eg trucks), other packing or transport materials, and if you so wish, your time to help us pack up the vast wealth of items we have to support the running and restoration of our heritage rail fleet.

We are in discussions with Transport for NSW and Transport Heritage NSW to determine an interim solution that will allow us to continue to run our operating fleet on the tours that you love to join us on, and more. Please check our website, and social media pages for further updates.

Please contact us at if you would like to make a donation and help 3801 keep serving the public, and preserving its rail heritage. Please also share this post to spread the appeal.

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