3801 locomotive back on track to steam south

Edwina Mason 24 March 2021 17
The 3801 locomotive.

The 3801 locomotive is a movie star, the subject of songs and has a fan club all of its own, and now it is returning to southern NSW after 12 years of restoration work. Photo: Supplied.

Train buffs looking to jump aboard the newly launched 3801 locomotive will have the opportunity next month when it heads deep into the South West Slopes of NSW.

Even people who are not aficionados of arguably Australia’s most famous steam locomotive – pronounced ‘thirty-eight oh-one’ – should check her out, all green and shiny having emerged from a 12-year rebuild.

Thirty of these engines were built back in the 1940s which, given the wartime material shortages, was a feat in itself. And despite having more starts than Winx, little could measure up to her pull on the open rail.

3801 locomotive crossing bridge.

The pulling power of the 38 class locomotives put express into train travel in Australian for several decades. Photo: Supplied.

An iron horse of the era, the 38-class engines were able to haul more carriages and reduce travel times, and her popularity soared as she (or her various incarnations) visited each Australian mainland state and territory.

One 3801, aptly named the Western Endeavour, was the first steam locomotive to cross all 8000km of the Australian continent, from Sydney to Perth, in 1970.

But the 38 class also boasts movie cred, having featured in 1974 short film A Steam Train Passes. Two songs were also written about the locomotive: Jolly Green Giant by Johnny Ashcroft, in 1976, and 3801, by Ray King and Ron Russell, in 1987.

And who could forget that famed partnership with the Flying Scotsman as part of Aus Steam ’88 which saw a plethora of train traffic pass through Goulburn, Yass Junction, Harden, Cootamundra and Junee.

The 3801 locomotive was not just a crowd-pleaser, it was a crew-pleaser with modern equipment making it easy to operate, including spacious cabs complete with padded seats. Bar raising as it was, only the best crews were rostered on to operate it.

?To the travelling public, the class embodied the romance of the steam era, of express trains racing through the countryside from city to city. The first five locomotives, with their distinctive streamlined casings, were instantly recognisable – their sleek lines evoking a sense of speed and modernity. The non-streamlined 38s were large and solid, and gave the perception of safety and reliability.

?The 38 class remained the darlings of the railways until their withdrawal from service during the 1960s and 1970s. They were the last steam engines built in NSW for passenger operations.

Today, 3801 is the only streamlined steam locomotive to survive in NSW and has a fan club all of its own, among them NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian who, in 2013, said the newly established Transport Heritage NSW should prioritise returning the 3801 to service.

A visit to the Junee Roundhouse Railway Museum and steam train rides are on the itinerary of the 3801 as part of its return to the train tracks of NSW. Photo: Junee Roundhouse Railway Museum.

?The NSW government-funded $3.5 million overhaul of the engine was completed in 2020 by a team of staff and volunteers, including some who worked on the train in its heyday.

?Officially relaunched at Sydney’s Central Station on Friday, 12 March, 2021, by NSW Governor Margaret Beazley, the 3801 has a full itinerary of statewide visits, including to Wagga Wagga and Junee.

It will be on display at the magnificent Junee Roundhouse Railway Museum from 6-8 April, 2021, where visitors can get up close and see inside the 3801 driver’s cab while visiting one of the few surviving, working railway roundhouses in the Southern Hemisphere.

On 9 April, visitors can travel in the open saloon carriage or a premier class compartment – for up to six people – as the 3801 hauls non-stop return steam train rides from Junee Station to Cootamundra.

On 10-11 April, the rides will be offered from Wagga Wagga to Uranquinty.

Tickets can be purchased here.

Original Article published by Edwina Mason on About Regional.


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17 Responses to 3801 locomotive back on track to steam south
Timothy Bailey Timothy Bailey 8:35 pm 01 Apr 21

In Newcastle this / these was known as 'The Flyer'.

It could get you to Sydney quickly enough, that you could see 'the Repat's' Soldier's Children's Education Scheme folks in Sydney.

Yet still be home for tea in Newcastle, hat night!

Somewhat important to a War Widow with 5 kids. 😉😞

Michele Balcomb Michele Balcomb 4:10 pm 29 Mar 21

My father was an examiner on the NSW Railways @ Broken Hill when 3801 passed through on its way to Perth, its a train he has always remembered fondly.. this news will make him smile.

    Bill Gemmell Bill Gemmell 8:24 pm 29 Mar 21

    Michele Balcomb I recently obtained this photo of the Western Endeavour when it was assisted by the most infamous NSW locomotive. The photo was taken by the driver. Thought your father might appreciate it.

    Michele Balcomb Michele Balcomb 8:40 am 30 Mar 21

    Bill Gemmell I will show him...great old shot.

Peter McDonald Peter McDonald 7:17 am 29 Mar 21

It’s a bit hard to make it mid week when you have to work.

Mina Loy Mina Loy 12:00 am 29 Mar 21

Warren Jones if you're in the area :)

Evi Turner Evi Turner 5:34 pm 28 Mar 21

Julian Turner, read on!

Charmaine Murfet Charmaine Murfet 5:21 pm 28 Mar 21

Liz Butt. Wanna go?

    Liz Butt Liz Butt 5:38 pm 28 Mar 21

    Charmaine Murfet Junee to Coota?

    Julie Goddard Julie Goddard 6:39 pm 28 Mar 21

    Charmaine Murfet wish I could go with you.

    Charmaine Murfet Charmaine Murfet 6:47 pm 28 Mar 21

    Julie Goddard come for a holiday and we can go

    Charmaine Murfet Charmaine Murfet 6:47 pm 28 Mar 21

    Liz Butt or Junee to Wagga

    Julie Goddard Julie Goddard 6:54 pm 28 Mar 21

    Charmaine Murfet I've left my job so too much to sort out at the moment. Would be great though.

Karyn Barton Karyn Barton 5:12 pm 28 Mar 21

Get yourself to Wagga Rhonda and take Helen for a ride on the 3801 ♥️

    Rhonda Fenton Rhonda Fenton 6:02 pm 28 Mar 21

    Karyn Barton Pop would love would have loved to see that❤️

Sally Tregellas Wodzinska Sally Tregellas Wodzinska 4:34 pm 28 Mar 21

Wonderful. Tom Wodzinski please join me.

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