46 Class Co-Co Electric

These 3780HP locomotives were introduced to facilitate working over the steeped graded Blue Mountains route, and started on that service in June 1957. They eliminated double-heading (but see also comment below), particularly on the 1 in 30 grades up to Valley Heights, and once electrification was extended northwards to Gosford as well, were used to ease the task of lifting heavy trains up the Cowan Bank from the Hawkesbury River. They have now all been withdrawn, but a couple are preserved. (Locations? One is at Valley Heights, and Skippy Bingham tells me it is 4601 in tuscan red. Darren Yates says he saw two at Lithgow (near the loco shed) in early March 2004.)

Gordon Shannon has written (14 Jun 2004) to comment:

I found this very informative site while looking for some info on the 19 class steam engines that were used on the Oberon to Tarana line for a fellow railwayman who was an ASM (Assistant Station Master) at Tarana. Curiosity drew me to look at the info on the 46 class loco as I saw them introduced as I was living at Katoomba when the electrification was being under taken. Prior to the full opening on the service,the engines were used as a Pilot or assisting engines on the passengers from Valley Heights to Katoomba replacing the steam pilot. This of course was for driver training for the Valley Heights loco men.

In Feb of 1958 I started work at Katoomba as a Junior Station Assistant aged 15, Previously the position was known as a 'Junior Useful'. A high faluting name for for the general dogsbody at half wages. I worked at almost every station between Emu Plains and Mt Victoria as both a junior and adult until in mid 1962 I did my 'Shunting' course and worked at Katoomba as a Porter-Shunter, i.e., platform duties and shunting as required. This put me up close and greasy with the 46 class.

In the infomation on the 46 class is the comment that their introduction removed the need for 'Double Heading'. This is not correct in as far as the goods service was concerned as Pilots were still in use right up to the late 70's.

I worked both signal boxs at Katoomba and Valley heights as a Relief signalman between '78 and '81 so saw them in use. They even assisted the then newer 86 class electrics on some trains but as the control systems on each class was different, the 'Jumper' cables could not be used so each driver had to control his own locomotive.

I moved back to Wallerawang in 1982 and took very little interest in the workings over the Blue Mountains. I do know for a time that the engines from Valley Heights were going to Penrith and attaching there instead of Valley Heights. But this was when so many changes were happening that what was done one week was altered next week. NB, I use the term 'Pilot' to indicate a locomotive on the front of a train and 'Bank Engine' for those pushing from the rear. I worked in the main signal box in Lithgow (Coal Stage) where we used both on the 4000 tonne coal trains heading to Sydney up the Zig Zag section as it is a very heavy grade.

I quit the railways in 1994 after a dummy spit. I had 36 yrs in and enough was enough. I don't miss the job, only those I worked with, but regretably too many have passed on.

I hope the above is of interest to you, Thanks for an interesting site, with regards, Gordon Shannon

Gordon, thank you for these interesting insights!

  • Image : dir=nsw/46class/ page=index 56640 bytes, pixels
  • Date : Jun 1973, catalogued 15 Mar 1998
  • Photographer : John Hurst
  • Medium : Ektachrome, slide number 2980
  • Description : 4612 waits at Cowan for line clear on a wet night.


  • Image : dir=nsw/46class/ page=index 127691 bytes, 800x600 pixels
  • Date : unknown, catalogued 29 Jul 2007
  • Photographer : Barry
  • Medium : email, image location /home/ajh/Desktop/4629 Lewisham.jpg
  • Description : 4629 on a passenger trundles through Lewisham


  • Image : dir=nsw/46class/ page=index 116250 bytes, 800x600 pixels
  • Date : unknown, catalogued 29 Jul 2007
  • Photographer : Barry
  • Medium : email, image location /home/ajh/Desktop/4635 Redfern.jpg
  • Description : 4635 just about beats the shutter as she races through Redfern with a passenger train for Central


  • Image : dir=nsw/46class/ page=index 69865 bytes, 600x800 pixels
  • Date : unknown, catalogued 29 Jul 2007
  • Photographer : Barry
  • Medium : email, image location /home/ajh/Desktop/IMG_0007.jpg
  • Description : A portrait shot of 4637


  • Image : dir=nsw/46class/ page=index 53074 bytes, 734x600 pixels
  • Date : unknown, catalogued 04 Sep 2004
  • Photographer : Terry Bingham
  • Medium : email digital image
  • Description : a 46 class electric loco at Broadmeadow near Newcastle waiting to come off the down North Coast Daylight


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