NSWGR 38 Class
3801, the first 38 Class produced

Years built



Clyde Engineering (5)
Eveleigh Railway Workshops (13)
Cardiff Locomotive Workshops (12)

Number Produced


Years in Operation


Fleet Numbers




Number Preserved


Number Scrapped


(l × w × h)



4 feet 8 ½ inches (1,435.100 mm)

V - E - T - D

The C38 (with the 'C' referring to the fact that the locomotive has 3 driving axles) or 38 class was a class of steam locomotive built and operated by the New South Wales Government Railways in Australia. Built starting in 1943, the 30 locomotives in the class hauled express trains and replaced the C36 class on these routes. They were the first locomotives in New South Wales to use the popular Pacific 4-6-2 wheel arrangement.


The C38 class were first planned in 1938. Many delays were experienced during construction - mainly due to World War II. 3801 was the first engine to be built and entered service in January 1943. The last locomotive to be built, 3830 entered service in November 1949. The first five locomotives were built at the Clyde Engineering workshops and were streamlined in shape, with a cone shape at the front. The remaining 25 locomotives were built at both the New South Wales Government Railway Workshops at Eveleigh, New South Wales (13 locomotives) and NSWGR Workshops at Cardiff in Newcastle (12 locomotives). These locomotives were not streamlined and had a flat front.

During the 38's government work, all 38s except for the locomotive numbered 3813 were painted in a black livery.

By 1951, diesel locomotives started working on the railway system of NSW. These gradually took the express trains away from the 38 class, who would be moved to all-stations passenger and even goods trains. They could still be found working The Newcastle Flyer, which was an express train between Sydney Central and Newcastle up until December 1970. The Newcastle Flyer was 3820s last government run and was withdrawn from government operation and handed into the care on the New South Wales Rail Transportation Museum.

38 Class locomotives todayEdit

Four 38 class locomotives were saved from being scrapped. Currently no 38 class locomotives are in operation.

  • Streamlined locomotive 3801 is owned by the New South Wales Rail Transport Museum (previously by 3801 Limited from 1986 - 2006). 3801 is currently receiving a major overhaul which includes a new all-welded boiler and firebox.
  • 3830, owned by the Powerhouse Museum, is currently receiving a minor overhaul by the NSWRTM after problems were found in the boiler and firebox from a tour on the 4 of July 2009. 3830 is on display and receiving the overhaul at the NSWRTM in the new roundhouse, however boiler problems suggest it is likely 3830 will most likely need a new firebox, or even boiler
  • 3820 is a static exhibit in the New South Wales Rail Transport Museum display hall.
  • 3813 is the only locomotive to be produced at Cardiff that was not scrapped, but was dismantled and never put back together. It is currently at the Dorrigo Steam Railway and Museum waiting for her re-assembly.



Articles on Trains in NSW
27 Class - 36 Class - 38 Class - 43 Class - XPT