‘Full-diesel’ ahead for 900-class DEB set train restoration

900-class in Junee, 1981
900-class in Junee, 1981

Junee resident Ross Jackson is going “full-diesel ahead” with plans to put a 900-class DEB set train back on the iron ribbons. 

With a team of volunteers largely from the region, Mr Jackson, who also works at Transport Heritage NSW, has launched a massive crowdfunding campaign to bring the train, which serviced the Riverina Express until 1982 and the Junee to Griffith line, back to service. 

The 65-year-old train was an Australian engineering marvel, built using construction techniques and materials employed making aircraft in the Chullora Railway Workshops during World War Two. 

On top of being a proud piece of NSW rail history with “a fair bit of style about it,” Mr Jackson says it’s fast and economical to operate. 

He hopes to see it based in Junee and “run to small country towns around the region.” 

“For out-of-home footy matches, locals could jump on the train,” he said.

It will be able to carry 180 passengers and reach speeds of up to 115km/h. 

The train has been resting for 20 years at Rothbury and is being prepared for transportation for restoration in Cowra.  

An online crowdfunding campaign and fundraising since late 2016 has raised $40,000 of the required $300,000 to complete the project.

The project is earmarked for completion by 2021. 

The volunteers are calling for anyone interested with varied skills, from electricians, plumbers to air-conditioning gurus to get involved.

Junee Rail Workshops manager Andrew Clinton said the train is a smart restoration option.

Compared to a steam locomotive, “it runs at a fifth of the cost of fuel, takes half the men to run it and a third of the maintenance,” he said. 

He said there’s no reason the train couldn’t service a Wagga to Albury passenger route. 

Mayor Neil Smith said “it would be a huge thing for Junee’s already growing tourism industry.”