Lithgow State Mine secure Loan Agreement with THNSW to restore 623/723

  SydneyCider Chief Train Controller

Only just came across this on their facebook page, although it was posted about a month ago on November 10 and didn't see anything on RP about it.

LSMR have secured a Loan Agreement with THNSW after negotiations of over 18 months for the heritage listed rail car set 623/723 which has been stored at the NSWRM Thirlmere. They have also secured a funding package which will enable them to carry out restorations on the set. 623/723 will be moved from Thirlmere to Lithgow at some point in the future. LSMR did an amazing job with the restoration of their own 661/726 which then had the solar conversion and was sent off to the Byron Bay railway.

Facebook post (with photos of 623/723) :-

Below some videos showing 623/723 in action just before and post retirement.

Credit to tressteleg1 for this video taken in 2005 showing Newcastle/hunter suburban services with 620's and 720's, 623/723 can be briefly seen at 14:44

Credit to Richard Whitford for this video taken in 2007 showing 623/723 in action along lower North Coast in final few weeks of it's career

Credit to Darrin Bailey for this video showing 623/723 moving at Thirlmere in 2011

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  gordon_s1942 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
This is of course excellent news for three reasons, ensuring those vehicles are safe from being scrapped, their restoration to at least a static display state if not to full running condition and the employment of a work crew of locals to complete the work.

In another report on Facebook says a number of Southern Aurora Cars are also to be/are being restored by another group I think located at the old Locomotive depot.
Fantastic news all round.
  SydneyCider Chief Train Controller

Agree totally. There seems to be a lot of good news coming out of the Lithgow area and areas beyond that with the October announcement of the 1.1 million injection of funds to restore the track between Kandos and Rylstone and the team at Zig Zag working to bring that railway back to operation. It will be interesting to see what livery they decide to go with for 623/723, with the other 2 having been restored to the original yellow stripe scheme. RMS Paterson have run a lot of tours with 621/721 including an ARHS tour which took the train all the way into Brisbane - perhaps a record for how far a 600/660 or 620 has ventured out of NSW? There are 2 videos posted of this tour which show 621/721 passing over the Brisbane river with a Brisbane EMU passing by in the opposite direction - unlike the case with an XPT, it was certainly an unusual scene to see these 2 trains "meeting" each other. Also a video showing the re-fuel at Acacia Ridge. I may as well post the videos, they haven't had that many views and may likely go unseen otherwise, credit to v6hilux for sharing these:-

A further video of the restored 621/721 running about Sydney including a side-by-side run alongside a Waratah out of Concord West (credit to Aussie Trainiacs)

Not to get too much off topic, but Goodwin Alco were also restoring their own set 629/729 some years back. They posted their work to a website which shows progress of the restoration carried out. This also involved them stripping the 620 set that was located at the Valley Heights Museum, 636/736, where they were able to procure an entire set of original brown and green stamped seats in the process - 636/736 was subsequently scrapped. The site has detailed photographs showing the work carried out, an interesting read.
  SydneyCider Chief Train Controller

On January 20, the set 623/723 was taken to CFCLA's Goulburn Railway Workshops where it will be restored/overhauled/re-painted. Further details on the Lithgow State Mine Railway facebook page:-

Quote from facebook page

"The cars will be overhauled and painted at CFCLA's Goulburn Railway Workshop over the next few months and will then head to Lithgow. A custom ICE radio will also be installed by Railway Radio Communications.
Once operational, the railcars will see service on the Lithgow State Mine Branch and of course in familiar territory on the Mudgee line, operating tours to Kandos and Rylstone on the recently opened section of track linking the two towns once again by rail."
  gordon_s1942 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
I dont think it would be wrong to say that before they sent the other set to Byron Bay, it proved there was an interest in both restoring similar sets and running tours with them so now hopefully we shall see this project repeating that success.

Wild flights of Fancy but could you see joining a narrow gauge Train at Clarence to the 'Bottom Points' (Zig Zag) to change to a 600/700 class set and go through to Wallerawang/Tarana/Bathurst or Capertee/Kandos/Rylestone and return to rejoin the Train at the Bottom Points (Zig Zag) to end at Clarence???
  SydneyCider Chief Train Controller

Lithgow State Mine posted an update on their facebook page in regards to 623/723. It was moved into the CFCLA workshops at Goulburn where the project to restore the set to operational condition (as well as associated cosmetics) will now begin. Will be interesting to see what livery they choose to go with for this set....
  SydneyCider Chief Train Controller

A nice and interesting little story here posted in what appears to be the late 1992 edition of Xpress and talks about the restoration and re-activation of 623/723 to service as a spare DMU unit to serve the Wollongong area, as numerous units such as the 600/700, 620/720 and DEB sets did until their replacement by Endeavours in 1994.

Credit to Darren Hilton for posting this on the NSWRailwaysPastAndPresent Facebook page. The page in question is a few slides/images in.

Direct link to slide:-

General gist of the story is that 623/723 at that time (1992) had been out of service and in poor shape for around 3 years and as such was given the nickname "Orphan Annie" and later more affectionately known simply as "Annie". A spare/stand-by operational unit was desired by the Illawarra regional fleet manager John Pett who approached the team at Freight Rail's Port Kembla Maintenance Center who said they'd be able to get her running again.

The restoration involved the removal of the old GM diesel motors and installation of the Cummins engines with Voith transmissions, which many of this class of rail motor (and DEB sets) got. Apparently one of the reasons this project was undertaken was because the 1980 purchased engines had been sitting in their boxes unused the whole time - I'm guessing they were either spares or perhaps certain units that were supposed to get the upgrade never got it.
  SydneyCider Chief Train Controller

An interesting update to the restoration job.

From what has been said 623 and 723 will be re-united very soon and ICE Radios will be installed.

Apart from the various planned Rylstone to Kandos shuttles, I could see the set being used to do a special run from Rylstone and Kandos to take people from there to the city for special occasions like perhaps Australia Day, the Vivid Festival (they had a "Vivid Festival Express" with 661/726 in 2016 before it's solar conversion).

Two interesting shots below of the very same set in the same livery they are applying in service on the Gwabegar line. Credit to Graeme Skeet for sharing these
  SydneyCider Chief Train Controller

Another detailed update on 623/723 restoration

Interesting last bit they talked about how reps from LSMR and RMS Paterson met with THNSW to talk about the management of the spare parts and components which could be used with 621/721 and 623/723.

If the spare parts supply starts to run dry, would it be a matter of acquiring components/parts that are available on the current market that could do the same job? or digging up detailed plans/designs and approaching some engineering firm and contracting them to build these parts from scratch?
  SydneyCider Chief Train Controller

No updates for quite a while on this set, however, someone took this photograph recently at CFCLA Goulburn workshops where work is being carried out on the set, it shows 623 and 723 re-united. Last updates from October 2018 suggest they were starting to get pretty close. I assume the set might run under it's own power out of Goulburn to Lithgow SMR. This set was among the last 7 (6 after 628/728 was retired due to the Hexham coal train accident in 2002) to continue running until 2007 before being displaced by the Hunter Rail Cars/J sets which started coming into service from November 2006. Probably quite a good thing that one of the 2 THNSW preserved sets is all the way up north to cater to the crowd up there, especially having spent it's entire service life 1961 - 2007 based in the Hunter and another set based out west. Quite appropriate that LSMR will no doubt run this set to Rylstone and Kandos as this very set in this exact livery ran to Mudgee and back in the early the 1980's before being re-deployed to the South Coast then eventually back to the hunter for it's final years with the last 7.
  The_trolley Deputy Commissioner

Location: Banned
No updates from LSMR as the LSMR haven’t been able to meet THNSW’s requirements to secure the loan of the set.
  SydneyCider Chief Train Controller

No updates from LSMR as the LSMR haven’t been able to meet THNSW’s requirements to secure the loan of the set.

Haven't heard anyone mention this but I guess it would be behind the scene's stuff. Is it a matter of something with the train/restoration of it? Or Crew accreditation to be able to drive it or perhaps storage facilities for it?
  SydneyCider Chief Train Controller

An update posted 10 April 2019. It shows 623/723 getting some finishing visual touches.

When this set is finally out and running both of the THNSW preserved 620/720 sets will be running about. Their allocation, one in the north and one in the west is good and caters to 2 of the key areas where this type of train was present. Would be great to see this set perhaps appear at the Transport Heritage Expo to show it off and also double as a way to promote some of the stuff in the works at LSMR as well as Rylstone and Kandos railway.

On a side note, RMS Paterson has been doing lots of trips with 621/721. I do wonder, if the THNSW DEB Set is restored, who they would choose to allocate custody of that set to. Interestingly enough the DEBs can be coupled to work with a 620/720 set and did so on occasion for the Canberra Monaro Express in the early 1970's (if i'm not mistaken).
  SydneyCider Chief Train Controller

A bit of footage someone snapped of 623/723 stabled outside at Goulburn. Looking great
  SydneyCider Chief Train Controller
  SydneyCider Chief Train Controller

Latest update from Lithgow State Mine Railway regarding restoration and re-activation of 623/723 as of 20 February 2020

RMS Paterson's 621/721, which had run for a charter tour to Albury, on the way back picked up 623/723 from Goulburn workshops and both operated together (623/723 was also powered, although 621/721 lead) to Broadmeadow Maintenance Center. There some final works will be undertaken on 623/723 and when complete it will be officially signed off and certified for operation on the network.

There are numerous other photographs and video on their facebook page of this movement, so worth checking it out. Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
And apparently the deal is off now, with THNSW to operate it themselves.

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