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.

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!