19 September 2001 MEDIA RELEASE - 50th BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS FOR PIONEER LOCOMOTIVE
One of the most historically significant railway
locomotives in Australia will tomorrow celebrate 50
years of almost continuous service. The pioneer diesel locomotive, GM1 Sir
Robert Gordon Menzies has spent the last five decades
clocking up an amazing 8 million kilometres, much of it on the transcontinental
railway across the Nullarbor.
A brief ceremony acknowledging the significance of this anniversary will be held at 9.30 a.m. on Thursday 20 September, at the Islington Workshops of Australia Southern Railroad, the operator of the locomotive, with GM1 as a backdrop. In September 1951, GM1 was the first main line standard gauge diesel to enter service in Australia. The 1,500 horsepower diesel locomotive was built by Clyde Engineering in New South Wales and entered service with the Commonwealth Railways at Port Augusta on 20 September 1951.
GM1 pioneered the use of diesel traction in this country and in the early 1950s, it and 10 similar locomotives revolutionised rail travel across the Nullarbor hauling transcontinental passenger trains and heavy freight trains. Within two years of the introduction of diesel traction, steam locomotives had been completely eliminated from all but the most menial tasks on the important transcontinental rail link between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie. Outside of North America, Australia was one of the first countries in the world to embrace diesel technology on its railways, the American Streamliner passenger locomotives of the 1940s and 1950s inspiring GM1's graceful outline.
When the standard gauge between Sydney and Perth was completed in 1970, GM1 ventured further afield into New South Wales and through to Perth, often at the head of the world famous Indian Pacific passenger train. After several years in storage in the early 1990s it was restored to operating condition and licensed to ASR when Australian National was privatised in 1997.
ASR CEO, Wayne James said, " This is certainly an historic milestone in Australia's railway history. GM1 was one of the pioneer diesel locomotives in this country and it was the forerunner of the modern diesel fleets operating on our railways today." "At 50 years old, GM1 is the oldest operating mainline diesel locomotive in Australia and must be one of the oldest operating in the world. We are glad to recognise the significance of this historic locomotive and to keep it in operational condition.
However we do treat the 50-year old veteran with a bit of respect and it only sees occasional use during peak traffic periods such as the grain harvest and on special trains," Mr James said. Next month GM1 will travel to Western Australia to take part in Centenary of Federation celebrations surrounding the 1917 opening of the transcontinental railway between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie. The promise of the completion of the railway link between the east-coast and Perth was a key factor in getting Western Australia to join the Commonwealth in 1901.
ASR's parent company, the Australian Railroad Group, will be sponsoring train activities in Western Australia associated with the celebrations. This includes GM1 heading a special 1917 vintage train that will run from Perth to Kalgoorlie on October 22 and return to Perth on October 25, the anniversary of the arrival in Perth of the first transcontinental passengers.
For further information contact -
Paul Hurley on 08 8343 5333 or 0417 863 754
Photo Opportunity - Chiefs of Staff Please Note:
GM1 will be available for photographs between 0900 and 1000 on Thursday 20
September at the ASR Islington Railway Workshops, Churchill Road, Kilburn.
There will be a short cake cutting ceremony at 0930 with ASR CEO Wayne James.
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