NHRH Coal Hopper Freight Rail
NHRH Coal Hopper FreightCorp
NHRH Coal Hopper Pacific National
PHCH Coal Hopper FreightCorp
PHCH Coal Hopper Pacific National
RHCH Coal Hopper National Rail
RHCH Coal Hopper Patch Job
NSW NHRH, PHCH & RHCH 120T COAL HOPPER – PROTOTYPE OVERVIEW
Affectionately known as ‘Batwing’ coal hoppers, the NHRH 7-pack was the first bar coupled coal hoppers in NSW. Their side on appearance makes them quite distinct in the Hunter Valley.
Built in 1993/1994 by ABB Engineering, 350 hoppers were assembled into 50 x 7-packs, which revolutionized coal haulage in the Hunter Valley with each individual hopper being capable of being loaded to 120t gross (30t axle load). A further 7 x 7-packs were constructed in 1995. When first built, train rakes were often 84 wagons long (12 x 7-packs) and were hauled by the very modern 82 and 90 class locomotives.
Each hopper carries an unique number, with logic applied to the numbering system. This logic however is only applied to the NHRH hoppers, as subsequent builds are numbered in a different system.
Each lead hopper (marked with an L) is numbered between 50001-50057, with the last two digits being the 7-pack set number. The intermediate hoppers (marked with an I) are numbered between 50151-50435, and the rear hoppers (marked with an R) are numbered between 50851-50907. Hopper Set 1 comprises of wagons 50001-50151-50152-50153-50154-50155-50851.
Although the wagons are coupled in sets of 7, the air brake system is paired between wagons 1&2, 3&4, and 5&6, where the odd numbered platforms are the Master wagon. Wagon 7 has stand alone brake equipment. The Master wagon is fitted with the brake equipment, and the slave wagons (the even numbered platforms) rely on the Master wagon they are paired with to supply the control valve signal.
The hoppers were released into service with Freight Rail Coal logos, although they were rebadged with Freightcorp logos in the mid to late 1990’s. When acquired by PN, the majority of FreightCorp logos were painted out, and one Pacific National logo was applied on both sides of the middle hopper of the 7-pack. The hoppers were delivered with Freight Rail blue ends, bogies and trip levers.
Such was the success of the Batwing hoppers, Nova Coal/CRA Limited ordered 98 hoppers in 1997, which were coded PHCH (P prefix being for Private owner). As per the NHRH hoppers, these were placed into 7-packs.
The intention of this order was such, that the coal owner could control their own train set and they get guaranteed capacity and haulage to the port. Some would say this bold step has led to the current day trend of mining companies purchasing their own train sets to ensure service delivery.
These 14 x 7-packs are virtually identical to the NHRH hoppers, with the exception of the slightly modified end platforms. The easiest way to determine these hoppers were not NHRH hoppers was to look at the end slope sheets. The PHCH had green detail, rather than blue which was used on the NHRH. The PHCH hoppers were originally fitted with FreightCorp logos, and subsequently were painted out by Pacific National, with a new logo being installed on the middle hopper, the same as the NHRH 7-packs.
The many years the PHCH hoppers ran as a block train, service their owner’s mine sites, however, in recent years, these hoppers no longer run as a block train and each 7-pack is now treated as part of the standard 120t coal fleet, often running with other former FreightCorp coal hoppers.
The numbering is very unique for the PHCH hoppers. The lead cars (marked as LM for Lead Master) are numbered 10001-10014. The intermediate slave cars (marked as IS) are numbered 20001-20042. The intermediate master cars (marked as IM) are numbered 30001-30028, and the rear cars (marked as RM for Rear Maset) are numbered 40001-40014. The last two digits of the lead car denote the set number. Each set comprises of LM-IS-IM-IS-IM-IS-RM and set 1 is numbered as 10001-20001-30001-20002-30002-20003-40001. The Master and Slave brake arrangement is the same as the NHRH hoppers.
National Rail’s entrance into the Hunter Valley coal market saw an order for 32 RHCH Batwing hoppers placed in 1998/1999. These hoppers were identical to the PHCH hoppers. The 32 wagons were placed in 2-packs, although they were designed and built as 4-packs.
These hoppers were used on the Macquarie Generation train for a few years until National Rail and FreightCorp were sold off and became Pacific National.
These 32 hoppers were simply numbered from 7274-7305 and had National diamonds logos fitted to the side of each hoppers. The lead hopper had full National Rail writing and logos on the driver’s side, and the rear hopper had the same but on the fireman’s side. These logos have been painted out by Pacific National but no new logos have been fitted. The end slopes and trip levers were painted light grey and the bogies were black.
As the wagons were designed and marked as a 4-pack, there are two types of 2-packs in service. The lead two wagons, split from the 4-pack, are a Lead Master (LM) and an Intermediate Slave (IS). The rear two wagons, split from the 4-pack, are a Intermediate Master (IM) and a Rear Slave (RS). With the formation of Pacific National, these hoppers are now spread throughout the fleet.
The Batwing hoppers are unique and iconic to the Hunter Valley region. The 120t design, set in a rake of 7 was revolutionary and has set the standard for today’s Hunter Valley coal operation.
By Chris Jones
NSW NHRH, PHCH & RHCH 120T COAL HOPPER – PROTOTYPE PHOTOS
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