Victorian Railways R Class
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R761 and R707

Years built



North British Locomotive Company

Number Produced


Years in Operation

1951-1974 1994-2004 (Super R's)

Fleet Numbers




Number Preserved


Number Scrapped


l x w x h)

77 ft 3 1⁄4 in (23.55 meters)


5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm)

V - E - T - D

The R Class is a 4-6-4 "Hudson" steam locomotive that ran on Victorian Railways from 1951 to the 1970's


During World War 2, the A2 Class 4-6-0 steam locomotives even double heading were incapable of keeping up with the increased workloads and were rapidly wearing out and subject to frame cracking (from fatigue) and as such more modern and powerful locomotives were needed desperately as at the end of the war, the A2's were in deplorable condition

70 of the class were built for express passenger trains and quickly replaced the double heading A2 Class on it's duties and proved successful due to it's various modern features and considerably superior power to the A2's. However this was short lived as they were replaced by diesel locomotives as early as 1952 and relegated to secondary passenger trains and freight trains and withdrawals began as early as the 1960's and continuing into the 1970's (some even being scrapped as early as the 50's)

In the 1990's, West Coast Railway purchased and modified R 711 and R 766 into "Super R" Class locomotives by converting them to oil firing and granting them new features such as double chimneys, fitting of power reverse, diesel control stand to allow multiple unit working with diesel locomotives among other things to allow them to adhere to a diesel timetable. They were put into regular passenger service on Saturdays along the Melbourne to Warrnabool line which WCR operated. Also ran tourist services to Echuca and Bacchus Marsh. In 2004 when WCR folded, the 2 "Super R's" passed into the care of Steamrail Victoria


Seven R Class survive into preservation


  • R 707 was restored and is currently operated 707 Operations and named "City of Melbourne". Has quite the preservation career, having parallel ran with Flying Scotsman a few times in 1988-89, and triple parallel running with Flying Scotsman and R761 as part of Flying Scotsman's trip to Alice Springs and has parallel ran with 3801 between Seymour and Melbourne in 1988
  • R 711 was once owned and restored by West Coast Railway and converted to a "Super R" oil burner while painted in the WCR livery, however after WCR's demise R711 went into the care of Steamrail Victoria and was reverted to a "regular" R by removing it's power reverse and double chimney. Although the diesel control stand and oil burning features remain (it should be noted that it is equipped with a Wier Burner instead of the failed South African rotary burner). Was notable for running steam hauled services to Warrnambool on Saturday and tourist trains to Echuca and Bacchus Marsh under WCR to name a few things, and has double headed with R761 between Wodonga and Melbourne, paralleling 3801 and 3830 in Easter 2000
    800px-R711 Steamrail Open Day 2007

    R711 as preserved with L1162

  • R 761 was restored and is current operated by Steamrail Victoria. Has made quite the preservation career of itself, having been to South Australia twice, once in 1987 for the centenary of the Melbourne-Adelaide line, going as far north as Peterborough, being the last broad gauge engine to go there and be turned and then in 1994 to Adelaide before the Melbourne-Adelaide line was standardised. It has also parralell ran with the Flying Scotsman several times in 1988-89, even triple parallel ran between Melbourne and Seymour with Flying Scotsman and R 707 side by side. It has also ran the last broad gauge steam hauled trains to Western Victoria with R766 as far as Dimboola in 1995 before the Melbourne-Adelaide standardisation and to Albury in 2008 before the North East line was converted to standard gauge. Also double headed with South Australian Railways 621 from Wolsesly, SA to Bacchus Marsh in 1994 as part of SteamRanger's first (and only) tour to Victoria. Is also notable for parallel running with engines from New South Wales, with 3801 in 1988 for the Bicentennial, again in 2000 during the Easter long weekend (3830 accompanied 3801 while R 711 accompanied R 761). Also parralel ran with 3642 in 1992 as the 30th anniversary of standard gauge between Albury and Melbourne


  • R 704 is preserved by the ARHS Museum in North Williamstown. It is notable for being present at the Festival of Britian in 1951


  • R 700 was owned by West Coast Railway in a dismantled state and is currently undergoing restoration by Steamrail Victoria. Was to be restored by WCR to allow Steamrail to replace R766 as their other coal burning R, however that didn't quite work out as intended
  • R 753 exists in a dismantled state at 707 Operations
  • R 766 has gone through several ownerships and liveries throughout it's preserved life. It intially was purchased by a private consortium who wanted to run a luxury steam hauled service known as the "Melbourne Limited" and was painted in Brunswick Green along with several SAR steel cars, however the idea failed it was acquired by a private syndicate "766 Syndicate" and leased to Steamrail Victoria and painted in a maroon livery similar to the LMS in 1994. In 2000 the locomotive was leased to West Coast Railway (running a "final coal burner" run with R711 to Ballarat) and converted to a "Super R" oil burner with various modifications and painted in the WCR livery, even though it was a bit of a work in progress as it was yet to be as extensively modified as R 711, however after a year of service it failed and was never repaired, remaining stored in Ballarat. After WCR's demise, it passed into the care of Steamrail Victoria and was converted to standard gauge (1,435 mm) and leased to the Hunter Valley Tourist Railway in New South Wales for further restoration work and operation. It's currently in the final stages of it's overhaul and like R 711 has had many of the West Coast Rail features removed, although still retains it's oil burning features. The engine is somewhat unique in Australian steam in the sense of being the only engine to be owned by a private syndicate. Has a decent preservation career, having paralleled Flying Scotsman in 1989, triple paralleled 3801 and K 183 in Easter 1993 and ran to South Australia in 1991, double heading with 520 to the Barossa Valley, the tour being intended to the a farewell Melbourne-Adelaide broad gauge tour, however this did not occur for at leat another 4 years


The R Class weighs 190.4 tonnes and has an axle load of 19.8 tonnes. The boiler has a maximum pressure level of 210 psi and the engine itself can produce a tractive effort of 32,080 lbf and power outputs in excess of 2000 drawbar horsepower. The firebox possesses a grate area of 42 square feet (3.9 m^2) and is fed by a mechanical stoker. The cylinders are 21.5 inches (546 mm) in bore 28 inches (711 mm) in stroke. The driving wheels are 73 inches (1.85 m) in diameter

The tender can carry 6 tons of coal and 9000 gallons (40,915 litres) of water. Their mechanical stokers can feed the fireboxes up to 10,000 lbs (4536 kg) of coal per hour

[stats on oil burning R's would be appreciated]

See also Edit


  • The R Class was the second locomotive type on the VR to feature a mechanical stoker. As well as the American style bar frame construction of the S Class 4-6-2 and H Class 4-8-4 express passenger locomotives as well as roller brearings and thermic siphons
  • The R Class were the first locomotives on the VR to feature the lightweight SCOA-P driving wheels
  • Several "Super R" features are second hand features from ex South African locomotives, South African Advanced Steam engineer Phil Wardale assisting in modification of the two R's
  • The R Class are the only Hudson type tender engines in Australia

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: C Class - F Class - P Class - V Class

Diesel Hydraulic: TBA

Rail Tractor: TBA

Railmotors: Walker Railmotors

Electric: TBA

Suburban Electric: TBA