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Comeng Carriage Contract

Delivery commenced early in September 1964 on a new contract with Commonwealth Engineering Pty Ltd, Granville, N.S.W, for the supply of 17 steel passenger vehicles. These vehicles were transported one at a time to Dynon, Victoria, where they were transferred to Victorian Railways 5'3" (1600mm) bogies for the trip to Port Pirie Junction, being marshalled next inside the brakevan on regular goods trains. Particulars of the vehicles are in the table below.

5Coach cars (BA 147 to 151)42 tons75' 0"10' 3½"
1Dining car (DD 156)44 tons82' 0"10' 3½"
2Lounge cars (AFB 157 to 158)36 tons75' 0"10' 3½"
1Sleeping car (ARH 159)46 tons75' 0"10' 3½"
3Sleeping cars (BRE 160 to 162)46 tons75' 0"10' 3½"
1Sleeper-lounge (BRFD 163)44 tons80' 0"10' 3½"
Details of the steel Trans-Australian carriages built by COMENG.

During 1966 the Commonwealth Railways issued contract "2698" for nine stainless steel cars to be built by Commonwealth Engineering. These cars were to be the start of the delivery of new rollingstock that would be used on the standard gauge track being built between Sydney and Perth. This initial contract was for eight economy two berth compartment sleeping cars (BRG 168-175) and a single dining car (DE 176). As building of the standard gauge line progress a further tender for 59 cars was called may 1966. The planned transcontinental train was to be formed with 12 cars sleeping 144 passengers and was expected to operate twice weekly. Following on from the initial orders a further four contract were issued bring the fleet total to 125 cars.

The actual orders orders for Stainless Steel passenger cars built by Commonwealth Engineering (NSW) Pty Ltd are as follows:

8 x BRG (No.168 to 175), 1 x DE (No.176)
4 x HGM (No.202 to 205), 6 x ER (No.206 to 211), 12 x BRJ (No.212 to 223), 6 x CDF (No.224 to 229), 6 x DF (No.230 to 235), 4 x AFC (No.236 to 239), 6 x ARJ (No.240 to 245), 5 x ARL (No.246 to 250), 4 x ARM (No.251 to 254), 5 x HM (No.255 to 259), 1 x SSA (No.260)
3 x ARL (No.261 to 263), 1 x DF (No.264), 2 x CDF (No.265 to 266), 5 x BRJ (No.267 to 271), 2 x ARJ (No.272 to 273)
5 x ARJ (No.282 to 286), 2 x ARM (No.287 to 288), 5 x ARL (No.289 to 293), 2 x DF (No.294 to 295), 2 x HGM (No.296 to 297)
1 x HGM (No.298), 5 x BRJ (No.299 to 303), 1 x DF (No.294), 3 x AFC (No.305 to 307), 3 x ARL (No.308 to 310), 2 x HM (No.311 to 312), 1 x ER (No.313)
2 x HGM (No.316-317), 2 x HM (No.318 to 319), 7 x ARL (No.320 to 326), 1 x DF (No.327)

The numbers in brackets represents the road numbers used for each of the vehicles issued under these contracts. Some of these vehicles have since been renumbered in the range 900 to 999 for Indian Pacific use.


The initial cars were constructed from Corten steel with large windows, making them similar to the earlier Wegmann cars. They were wider and longer than the Australian Standard which was to later cause problem resulting in them being restricted to Australian National tracks only.

The stainless steel bodied cars were built to fit with the Australian Standard loading gauge and have fluting that runs the full length of the cars, including the skirts that cover the under floor air-conditioning and electrical equipment. The end doors of all cars have steeps that allow for for high and low level loading of passengers, except the lounge and dining cars which have doors without steps that only allow for high level loading.

The first three contract cars had Commonwealth type bogies manufactured by Bradford Kendall. The later contract cars had Bradford Kendall bogies of a similar design to the NSW 2CP bogie. Due to wheel changes, overhauls and repairs some of these later cars are now running on Commonwealth type bogies.

Internally all cars were fitted with end vestibules, side corridors and compartments. Laminate in an imitation woodgrain pattern was used to panel each of the cars. The design of the sleeping cars was a standard layout twinette fitted with an onsuite shower and toilet. Capacity was 18 sleeping passengers and a conductors compartment. The first class roomette sleep one and the second class roomette allow for 2 passengers in each compartment. Toilets and the conductors compartment are at the end of the car.

The dining cars allow for the seating 48 passengers in an open saloon, four to a table. The kitchen and a small servery are located at one end.

The first class lounge car has a bar servery area at the entrance end with the saloon being divided into various lounge areas. A piano was included and in 1983 Australian National fitted a TV and video tape machine. The economy class lounge is designed as a lounge cars with buffet. A small kitchen was provided in the centre of the car, lounge accomodation at one end and the other being fitted with two tables, each seating four, and reclining seats for twelve short distance passengers. In the late 1980's Australian National commenced a program of rebuilding the economy class lounge cars. The servery and storage area was expanded by the removal of the tables and reclining seats at one end.

Some of the economy class sleepers have been rebuilt internally for other purposes, this includes the entertainment car "AEC 222" and the conference car "ACC 223".

The power vans and guard vans were of a standard layout having a guards compartment and storage for parcels, or a power generator room. Crew accommodation is provided in separate "ER" crew dormitory cars which have a small dining area and kitchen at one end, two berth sleeping compartments and a shower and lavatory.


Some of the stainless steel cars entered service lettered "Commonwealth Railways" on the letterboard above the windows. Later this was changed to "Railways of Australia" and in the case of the Ghan cars, Governors car (SSA260), Conference car and Entertainment car they all had "Australian National" on the letter board.

Following the sale of the cars to "Great Southern Railway" the letter boards of most cars were briefly letterboarded with "Great Southern Railway". This was later removed leaving them without any type of lettering above the windows.