NZR Dc Class
This is Dc 4231 now withdrawn from service,

Years built



Clyde Engineering Australia, Hutt Workshops New Zealand,

Number Produced

85 built,



Years in Operation


Fleet Numbers




Type of Diesel Train

Diesel Locomotive

Number Operational

1978 - present,

Number Preserved

Not yet happened

Number Scrapped


(l × w × h)


Prime mover(s)



3ft 6 in (1,067 mm)

V - E - T - D

The New Zealand DC Class is the most common class of diesel-electric main-line locomotives on New Zealand Railway network, but also with long distance KiwiRail Scenic passenger trains, Metlink suburban trains in Wellington operated by Tranz Metro; also they used to operate on Auckland Transport Suburban Trains on the push-pull services. All 85 of the Dc's started life as the Da class, with 13 scrapped after accidents and spare parts at Hutt, and one being scrapped in Tasmania. Only 57 Dc's still remain in service.


Clyde EngineeringEdit

The Class started life as the Da in 1955 to the 1967 built by General Motors Canada, during 1978 and 1983 85 of the later-built Da were withdrawn because it was too expensive to keep all maintained so 80 where shipped to Australia to be rebuilt as Dc class locomotives by Clyde Engineering Australia with the series beginning from the 40 to 48, about 49 of the locomotives started out in the 15 series from 1551 to 1599, but during their NZR period they where later renumbered to there 4006 up to 4536 instead of keeping their birth numbers 1551 to 1599, but those not numbered their birth numbers from 4542 to 4876 remained in their actual NZR numbers, rather then being numbered in the 16xx series, which never occurred unlike the 1551 and 1599 series.

Hutt BuiltEdit

The other five engines that where not shipped to Australia where taken to Hutt Workshops at Woburn in Lower Hutt close to Gracefield, in Wellington, both Da's 1453, 1456 1457 1459 and 1479 where rebuilt as Dc's, 1453 became 4916 and was the first Hutt built engine to do so, 1456 became 4945 and 1457 became 4939, 1459 then became 4951, and the final engine to emerge from Hutt, Da 1479 became Dc 4922.

Technical detailsEdit

Each locomotive had a General Motors 12-645c or 12-645E V2 diesel engine (the same as originally fitted to the DF class) and four traction motors, with an authorized maximum speed of 100 km/h. They are 14 meters long, had a height of 3756 mm (12 ft 4in) and weighs 82 tonnes. They can be readily identified as they are considerably shorter than the DF, and DX classes and have their paired headlights arranged horizontally, rather than the vertically on the DFs. also the five 49-series Hutt-built Dcs originally retained the 12-567 engine before later receiving the 12-645.

The V12 motor that the Dc had.

Service HistoryEdit

The Class was initially employed in the North Island, also mainly to be used on freight trains but also as well hauling wither carriage trains or the Grass Grubs once former 88-Twin Seat Railcars, as known to be depowered, Changes came about the 1980's the deregulation's of land transport saw a who rail freight volumes decline and the opening of the NIMT electrification saw the feel reallocated, the factors saw the withdrawal of the DJ class and the Da class between 1985 and 1989, with the Dc class also seeing regular service in the lower South Island as a result.


Still the class continues to be a major workhorse, operating either as single units or in a multiple with other Dc units or either from the DBR's, DFT's, DX or the DL classes, the class can be seen on KiwiRail Scenic services in the South Island on the TranzAlpine and Coastal Pacific, and was used on the North Island's Northern Explorer, until being replaced by a DFT unit, A pair of these units are also occasionally seen employing to haul the Capital Connection service, The Northern Explorer's predecessor, the Overlander was usually hauled on the northern and southern sections of the NIMT, by a DC locomotive, and was also often used across the central section as well if an EF locomotive was unavailable that is.

Auckland Transport ServiceEdit

For several years the class has been employed in suburban carriage trains throughout Auckland, Ever since 2003, the operation had been run under a service contract by Transdev Auckland and it's predecessors, through firstly the former Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA) and now with the Auckland Council subsidiary Auckland Transport, Currently about 21 DC/DCP locomotives along with three DFT/B units - are leased to Auckland Transport, also operating in push-pull mode with Auckland Transport's ex-BR Mark 2 SA/SD stock cars, Once the Dc's were configured with a set of 3 SA cars and a SD driving car, but with an increase in rail patronage longer trains were provided on the Southern and Eastern lines, Those trains are in sets of four SA cars and an SD driving car with a Dc locomotive. 17 of the leased locomotives are painted in MAXX blue livery with the other four units including, DC 4104, 4260, 4346, and DCP 4818 in KiwiRail livery, all locomotives in service with Auckland Transport have been fitted with Electronic Train Protection (ETP) equipment, of the Dc's in Auckland include, former DA class, 1501, 1523, 1520, 1502, 1455, 1531, 1536, 1510, 1540, 1544, 1530, 1526, 1505, 1488, 1481, 1453, 1479, 1457, 1456, and 1459 now as DC's, 4035, 4093, 4104, 4248, 4254, 4260, 4346, 4369, 4375, 4381, 4415, 4444, 4536, 4663, 4818, 4916, 4922, 4939, 4945, and 4951,

Tranz MetroEdit

On Metlink's Wairarapa Connection services between Masterton and Wellington. The class are allocated on a daily basis, rather than being permanently assigned as is the case in Auckland. Five services are operated each way on weekdays, three of these arriving or departing Wellington at peak times with an additional service each way on Friday night and two services each way on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays, They consists comprise of Greater Wellington Regional Council's ex-BR Mark 2 SE SW carriages.


Originally the class was sequentially numbered from Dc 1551, (The Da having ended at 1545, and the DF class started at 1651) In 1980 the computerized Traffic Management System (TMS) was introduced and the class was renumbered with a four-digit number commencing with '4' with the last digit a check number. The 49 Clyde-built units where renumbered in sequence with DC 1551, becoming DC 4006, and DC 1599 becoming 4536, though only the first 31 (up to DC 1581) had entered service at the time. The remaining Clyde builds received TMS numbers through to 4876 as they entered the rebuilding, which DC 1582-1589 entered service with their original 15xx series numbers on the headlight number boards and the 40xx TS numbers on the long hood.

Initially the Hutt-built units retained their DA-sequence TMS numbers, as the Railways considered them to be DA locomotives as they retained the 12-567 engine. Eventually this decision was changed and they became DC 4916-DC 4951 with 4882 and 4899 not used to keep them in a separate number sub-series at that time.


The class however where delivered in International Orange or as we call it "Fruit Salad" Livery - orange/red. grey, and yellow with large white numbers on the long hood - which was the standard livery for the NZ Railways until the late 1980's, The class has since collectively worn almost every other single livery introduced to them since then, although some examples still wear the original Fruit Salad livery in service today. Livery's worn by the class are,

International Orange

"Fruit Salad" as we call it, The livery was introduced in the late 70's and early 1980's to the late 80's, however most of the class have since lost this livery and been long since repainted, but only eight examples remain in this livery as of 2015, which includes, former DA's 1533, 1512, 1514, 1519, 1506, 1483, 1543, 1492, now as Dc's 1553, later 4029, 1557 and 1558 later became Dc's 4064 and 4070, 1564 later becoming 4133, 1572 later became 4225, 1577 became 4277, 1588 became 4409, and the only engine not to have an original birth number was 4876, however engines numbers 4029, 4064, 4070, 4133, and 4225 are withdrawn and stored at Woburn Hutt Workshops, but only three are still in service including DCP 4277 and Dc 4409 and 4876,

Flying Tomato

A variation of Fruit Salad, where orange was substituted for the grey, some locomotives which received this prain scheme where later painted back in the Fruit Salad, No Dc's still wear this as of today, once DC 4087 did but was scrapped at Hutt Workshops for spare parts during the 2000's,

NZ Rail Blue

The Dc class also were the first to debut this livery in 1988, with the orange replaced by a mid-blue and either "NZ Rail" or "New Zealand Railways" on the long hood with numbers painted on the cab sides, Later in the Tranz Rail era, some engines received Cato Blue sticker patches over the long hood lettering with the Tranz Rail logo attached. No in-service Dc's wear this livery although Dc 4231 and 4352 are stored at Hutt Workshops in the Tranz Rail patched version of this livery,

Cato Blue

A variation of NZ Rail Blue upon the launch of "Tranz Rail" in late 1995 where a sky-blue colour (Cato Blue) replaced the mid-blue and the Tranz Rail "winged" Logo was placed on the long hood. Later the rights to Cato Blue were sold to Tranz Scenic in 2001. and a number of DCPs received repaints in the livery but with the Tranz Scenic logo in place of the Tranz Rail logo. A number of Dc's still wear the Tranz Rail example of this livery.

Bumble Bee

Dc 4323 was the first engine to wear this livery, which was consisted of the long hood being black, with the hood end, short hood and cab painted yellow, the first two DC's wore the Tranz Rail winged logo on the long hood Later locomotives instead had a block "TR" letters in yellow on the long hood. A number still wear this livery, but 4421 didn't carry the block "TR" and remained in the Tranz Rail winged logo being the only Dc left to do so,


A variation of Bumble Bee with dark blue on the long hood (with MAXX logo displayed) although with black long hood top and without the extended yellow rear area on the long hood, Dc 4444 has a variation where large numerals similar to the Fruit Salad livery are displayed on the long hood in the place of the MAXX logo, and nothing on the cab sides. The livery was for locomotives leased to ARTA to operate suburban services in Auckland, today Transdev has taken over,

Toll Green (Corncob)

A variation of Bumble Bee where Toll Green was substituted for the black, a lemon yellow replaced the former yellow colour used an the Toll Logo displayed on the long hood in addition to Toll logos on each end of the loco with three green whisker stripes, Later after Toll sold their stake in the railways during 2008, KiwRail patch stickers where placed over the Toll logos. however all but except one engine has long since been repainted to the KiwiRail livery as of today, but DCP 4830 is the sole and last example to only remain in this livery as of 2015.

KiwiRail Phase 1

"KiwiFruit" was first introduced KiwiRail livery, with Dc 4260 being the only example to receive it.

KiwiRail Phase 2

"KiwiRail Bold" The revised livery is now the most common livery of the classes.

In addition, Dc 4093 wore a special one-off "Kiwi Lager" Livery to go with the Kiwi Larger Ski train. and DC 4346 was one of two locomotives to wear a brown with yellow ends "Tasman Forestry" livery.

DCP subclassEdit

The DCP sub-class was established in 2002 to differentiate locomotives owned by Tranz Scenic 2001 Ltd from those owned by Tranz Rail Ltd. The DCP classification was retained on these locomotives after the purchase of Tranz Scenic 2001 by Toll NZ. and continues to be used by KiwiRail. Further units however have since received the classification, though it now refers to those DC locomotives that have been fitted with bogie retention wire ropes to stop the bogies falling off in derailments, rather than locomotives dedicated to passenger workings,


DC MicroEdit

In May, 1988, trials began out using GE's BrightStar control system on DC 4588 and DC 4939, which were unsuccessful, In November 1988, DC 4588 was fitted with the locally developed DC Micro wheelslip system, similar to the system then used on Massey-Fergusson tractors. The system substantially enhanced traction on the bogies, maximizing traction potential, DC 4939 followed in December 1988 and was also a success, Over the next 10 years about 64 Dc locomotives had been fitted with DC Micro,

Locolog and TranzlogEdit

Locolog was an event recorder system similar to a black box on aircraft, It was trialled successfully in 1986, on Dc 4070 and Dc 4778 before being fitted to all other main-line locomotives, It has since been supplanted by the locally-produced Tranzlog system, with both systems having provided significant material to assist in accident investigations.

DC 4588 In TasmaniaEdit

Dc 4588 was shipped to Tasmania (along with QR class locomotives) in December 1998 for use on TasRail, then part-owned by Tranz Rail and its parent Wisconsin Central through the Australian Transport Network, The Locomotive was purchased outright by TasRail after an initial period used lease, but was placed into storage since October 2002 after suffering an engine problem for many years, until being sold for scrap in 2011, the Dc originally started life as DA 1489,


As of January 2015, 26 units were withdrawn from active service, DC's 4006, 4087, 4202, 4657, 4686, 4703, 4749, 4778 and 4824 were withdrawn as a result of accidents being beyond economic repair and were scrapped at Hutt, Dc's 4127, 4162, and 4179 where scrapped, 4496 was supposed to become an experimental rebuild but was later cancelled and scrapped for parts, during the 2000's Dc's 4041, 4110, 4248, 4254, 4323, 4369, 4381, 4444, 4594, 4732, 4876, 4916, 4922 4939 and 4951 and DCP's 4818 and 4945 where withdrawn in the late 1990s or early 2000s but have since returned to service, as of today Dc's 4029, 4064, 4070, 4133, 4225, 4231, 4283, 4352, 4398, 4507, 4542, 4565, 4640, 4732, 4784 and 4830 are still stored at Hutt, 4029, 4352, 4398, 4507, 4640 and 4874 are being used for spare parts, Dc's 4064, 4070, 4133, 4225, 4231, 4283, 4542 4732 and 4830 are stored at Hutt,

Future of the Dc classEdit

During February 2015, Kiwi Rail issued a request for the disposal of these engines, Request for Quotation (RFQ) via the Government Electronic Tendering System (GETS). Unfortunately the RFQ requests pricing for the disposal of these engines with further tranches being released over the next two years, and if a future owner hasn't brought them to a new company then the locomotives could be scrapped, or maybe few may go to preservation trusts; no one knows for sure.