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Preserved Bluebird Railcars

Publicity shot of 254 +100class + 250 class between Sleeps Hill and Eden Hill tunnels. - Note the North line indicator plate, unusual for a south line train. SAR Photo. (courtesy Paul Henley)

The Bluebird Railcars of the South Australian Railways - a brief overview.

The Bluebird Railcars, were at one stage the mainstay of South Australia's country passenger rail system. Built to eliminate the need for locomotive hauled passenger trains over lines which were lacking in patronage, the railcars entrance to service heralded a new era in passenger transport around the state. It was with the merging of the South Australian Railways (SAR) and the Commonwealth Railways (CR) in the early 1970's which saw the closure of many country branch lines. Locomotive hauled passenger trains nearly completely disappeared, other then the larger interstate trains such as the Overland, Ghan and Indian Pacific. The re-introduction of Passenger services to the South-East saw the Bluebirds find a new lease of life, working between Adelaide and Mount Gambier, and a fast paced service to Broken Hill. This service marketed by Australian National as the "Pokie Express" was the fleets very last claim to fame, before they were officially written off and placed into storage following the very last train on Saturday 30th January 1993. The railcars were stored at the old Mile End diesel depot, before being moved to Islington Workshops where they lay for the next 5 years. May 1998 saw the return to service of railcars 251, 102 and 252, followed by railcars 254, 106 and 255 in December 1998. These railcars were sent to Victoria, having been renumbered and liveried in V/Line passenger livery, however the return of passenger services to the Gippsland region was short lived and it wasn't long before the railcars returned to Adelaide, to be repainted and numbered again in their original road numbers. These railcars operated many charter trips around the state, including a record making trip to Whyalla, where they became the first railcars to visit the city in over 10 years. Unfortunately, the Public Liability crisis reached every part of the tourist rail industry, and resulted in first the storage of the standard gauge set, and its subsequent sale to Chicago Freight Car Leasing Australia (CFCLA). Followed by the cessation of Barossa Wine Train services to Nurriootpa, and the broad gauge set being placed into storage and placed onto the market. Railcars 106 and 255 took another jaunt across the border in 2003, only to be placed into storage first at GNR's Dynon yard, and then moved to PacNat's Dynon freight terminal by August 2003. They returned to Adelaide in November 2003, covered end to end in graffiti and placed back into storage at Islington workshops. At the time of writing there were many rumours flying about the use of the several derelict railcars stored at Islington works as crew vans for new operator Freightlink - the new operators for the Alice-Darwin rail line. What is to come of these rumours remains unknown. 

Technical Information

Preserved 250 class

Preserved 100 class

BMC class