Victorian Railways H Class
H 220 as it is now in static display at North Williamstown.

Years built



Victorian Railways
Newport Works

Number Produced

1 (2 uncompleted)

Years in Operation


Fleet Numbers




Number Preserved


Number Scrapped


(l × w × h)

Length: 92 ft 5¾ in (28.19 metres)


5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm)

V - E - T - D

H 220.

The H Class is a 4-8-4 "Northern" steam locomotive that ran on the Victorian Railways of Australia, from 1941 to 1958.



H 220 blasts past the signal tower at Essendon, Melbourne.

Intended to stop VR from having to keep double-heading A2 Class 4-6-0 locomotives along the Western line, the H Class was built as a long distance express-passenger locomotive.

Production of H Class locomotives had begun in 1939, but when World War II started, only H 220 was finished on the 7th of February 1941. Two other partly built H Class locomotives existed, but were not completed because resources went to building armaments not express passenger locomotives obviously.

Instead of going to work on the Western line to Ararat straight away, H 220 was put onto the North-Eastern line to Albury pulling heavy express goods trains. This was due to H 220's weight. Many bridges along the Western line needed strengthening before H Class locomotives were to run over them. Sadly H 220 never got to pull The Overland express for which it was intended (although it did go on several test runs to Ararat through Ballarat later in it's life). It was replaced by diesel-electric locomotives in 1958. After a service life of only 15 years and 3 months, H 220 managed to do over 820,000 miles (1,320,000 km). Which is 4,800 miles (7724 km) per month.


H 220 survives in static display at the North Williamstown Railway Museum, as it has been since 1962. It is the only surviving member of this class or type to be preserved.

H 220 was also added to the Victorian Heritage Register due to it being the peak of steam motive power and locomotive engineering on the Victorian Railways.


The H class weighs 264.2 tonnes, and has an axle load of 23.6 tonnes. The boiler has a maximum pressure of 220 psi, and the locomotive can make 55,000 lbf of tractive effort; the locomotive can produce 3,300 draw-bar horsepower. The firebox possesses a grate area of 68 square feet (6.3 m^2), the largest grate area of any locomotive in Australia and is fed by a mechanical stoker. The 3 cylinders are 21½ inches (546 mm) in bore and 28 inches (711 mm) in stroke. The driving wheels are 67 inches (1,7 metres) diameter.

The tender can carry 9 tons of coal and 14,000 gallons (63,600 litres) of water. Thier mechanical stokers are capable of feeding their fireboxes up to 10,000 lbs (4536 kg) of coal per hour (since the R Class were capable of this, it is likely the H was fitted with something similar)


  • H 220 is thought to be the world's only surviving three cylinder 4-8-4.
  • H 220 was the first Victorian Railways locomotive to have a mechanical-stoker. They also featured several other modern features such as roller bearings, hydrostatically controlled load compenstaing brake gear, American style bar frame construction, power operated reversing gear, thermic siphons and duplex blast pipes
  • H 220 was the largest steam locomotive ever built in Australia, and the largest non-articulated steam locomotive to run on Australian railways. (the largest engines to operate in Australia were the NSWGR AD60 Class 4-8-4+4-8-4 Garratt locomotives, which were built in the UK)
  • H220 was built with intentions to improvement on the maintenance intensive S Class 4-6-2 Pacifics of 1928, with use of a German Henschel und Sohn conjugated valve gear over the Gresley conjugated valve gear of the S Class
  • During test runs to Ararat it recorded power outputs of 3300 horsepower at 47.5 mph and 3600 horsepower at 50 mph, power outputs rivalled (or even surpassed) in Australia only by the modern NR Class diesel locomotives
  • Despite the introduction of the R Class 4-6-4 and J Class 2-8-0 locomotives in 1951 and 1954, the H Class is regarded as the ultimate VR steam locomotive design


Articles on Trains in Victoria
Steam: A2 Class - C Class - Dd Class - G Class - H Class - J Class - K Class - N Class - NA Class - R Class - V Class - X Class - Y Class

Diesel Electric: F Class - P Class

Diesel Hydraulic: TBA

Rail Tractor: TBA

Railmotors: Walker Railmotors

Electric: TBA

Suburban Electric: TBA