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You are here: Home / UrbanGrowth, SMDA & RWA Plans & Activities / Built Environment Plan Phase 1 - The State Significant Sites / South Eveleigh Precinct / The Large Erecting Shop (LES) / The 3801 Ltd occupancy of the LES. / Who is Responsible? For the Near Disaster and Possible Damage of the States Most Significant Movable Heritage Item - Locomotive 3801

Who is Responsible? For the Near Disaster and Possible Damage of the States Most Significant Movable Heritage Item - Locomotive 3801

The following Media Statement was issued by Friends of Eveleigh on December 11 2006 to raise questions about the handling of 3801 following its departure from Eveleigh.

What happened?

Whilst stored at the Hunter Valley Training Company, 10 metres of the inspection pit below locomotive 3801 had been observed to be showing signs of collapse with structural failure evident in brickwork and timber transoms under the locomotive. The tender was leaning 10 degrees and an observation along the railhead showed twists and dips in what should be a straight rail. It was only luck that the locomotive didn't finish up laying on its side and severely damaged in what was left of the pit. Photos were taken [some are on the National Trust Australia (NSW) website at

It has been known to RailCorp for 9 years that there were problems with the complex because in 1997 at the Official Commissioning of Locomotive 3830 a rail was broken in this same complex. During various "Steamiest" Festivals it had been decided that it was too dangerous to take 38 Class locomotives into this complex.

What to do?

It was decided to push the locomotive further into the shed, uncouple the tender and remove it from the shed, remove the damaged rail and temporarily shore up the pit and rail and hopefully reconnect the tender and drag the whole locomotive out of the shed, hoping that it will not fall in to the pit. The locomotive is to be left outside in the weather for an indefinite period while the damaged track and pit at Hunter Valley Training Company is being rebuilt.

Will the taxpayers of this State be picking up the bill for the replacement of HVTC infrastructure. Mr. Ross Bunyon, Chairman of RailCorp and a Board Member of Hunter Valley Training Company may wish to comment on this infrastructure upgrading?

Key Points

The locomotive for political reasons had to be taken away from Eveleigh and 3801 Limited,

The use of the Hunter Valley Training Company at Maitland appears to be a Labor Party pork barrelling exercise for the struggling seat of Maitland.

It is now quite evident that those in charge were not fully experienced in the procedures required to move and safely store this 200 tonne 38 Class locomotive.

It is quite evident that 3801 Limited maintenance staff are still the only people competent enough to safely look after this locomotive. Their 20 year record speaks for itself,

It also appears that EPA requirements were never thought about.

Following complaints about the storage method of the locomotive, maintenance staff of 3801 Limited were called upon to assist even though the locomotive is no longer in their control.

Who signed off for the following?

  • Who signed off for sending the locomotive to East Greta?
  • Who signed off on this private track being fit for traffic?
  • Who signed off a required independent RailCorp inspection on the HVTC track?
  • Who signed off on the EPA and OH&S requirements for HVTC (treated boiler waste water, ash removal, chemical handling, etc.)

Watch the buck passing if anyone is prepared to answer these questions.


On the night of Monday 27th November 2006, Locomotive 3801 steamed out of Sydney destined for the Hunter Valley Training Company at Maitland for a mechanical inspection to determine what overhauling is required for the locomotive. Those in the know will tell you that it is in near perfect condition other than the boiler overhaul due in 12 to 18 months providing the current expert maintenance program can be maintained.

Why to Maitland?

Most of the "expert technical panel" to assess the locomotives condition come from Melbourne, Sydney or south of Sydney so why not conduct the inspection at Eveleigh - where facilities including inspection pits already exist.

Because Maitland is now a swinging seat for the State election. Needs propping up and the $600,000 grant to the Hunter Valley Training Company at Maitland is the ultimate pork barreling exercise.

The Government was not game to send the Locomotive straight to Thirlmere because of voter backlash.

The locomotive was taken to the Hunter Valley Training Company to be inspected but it was left for 10 days without any of the usual cleaning and maintenance being carried out. There was ash in the firebox, there was water in the boiler and tender and essential lubricating of the pistons had not been carried out. Is this the sign of things to come

On Wednesday 7th December, 3801 Limited were requested to send maintenance staff to Maitland to carry out work that should have been carried out a week earlier. Is the staff from 3801 Limited the only people capable or experienced enough to carry out these operations? And what about the specially selected RailCorp Experts?

Has HVTS an EPA Authorised ash disposal method in place.

Has HVTS an EPA Authorised waste water treatment plant for accepting boiler water.

Has HVT$ a Safe Working method approved for wash-outs or procedures in place for bringing water treatment chemicals on to the site.

Has RailCorp Office of Rail Heritage anybody qualified in these matters.

Is "Puffing Billy" engineers in charge of the movement and inspection experienced only on narrow gauge tramway operations and not main line operations

Was EPA Approval obtained for the emptying of the boiler and tender this week?

Who at the Hunter Valley Training Company was responsible for approving the track for use?

Why did the RailCorp team of experts continue to place the locomotive into the shed

at the HVTC when members were aware that there were problems with track separation and stress noises noticed?

Why was the locomotive sent to Maitland when the same inspection could have taken place at Eveleigh where tested facilities are in place?

This Media Statement was issued by
Friends of Eveleigh - saving the great Eveleigh Railway Workshop
All correspondence to:
The Secretary, FOE, PO Box 381, Belrose West NSW 2085 Phone 0400 441 48