South Australian Railway
Australian National Railway
AN Green (No Logo)
Manildra Harwood Sugar
Manildra & Vetta
Australian National Railways
Australian National Railways
Genesee & Wyoming Australia
SHBX/AHGX GRAIN HOPPER – PROTOTYPE OVERVIEW
In 1969 Mechanical Handlingbuilt 52 SHBX grain hoppers for the South Australian Railways. SHBX 1-52 were delivered on the Standard Gauge network with SAR logos, in a yellow colour very similar to the Victorian steel bodied GJF.
These 52 hoppers operated in both South Australia and New South Wales, with many being gauge converted in the mid-late 1970s to Broad Gauge for operation in South Australia and potentially Victoria.
In 1979 Australian National Railways (ANR) built hoppers SHBX 53-72. These hoppers were delivered in the ANR red livery with the boxed letter logo. Some of the 1969 built SHBX wagons were repainted into the ANR Red livery during this period.
In 1979, the ROA introduced the new wagon classification system, with the SHBX class being allocated the new code of AHGX. As a result, the remaining wagons under construction at the time were delivered in 1980 as AHGX 73-108.
Another batch of wagons were built by Australian National in 1981 and delivered as AHGX 109-120. AHGX 109 was the first in the class to be delivered in the AN green and yellow livery. Subsequently all AHGX hoppers would be painted in AN green and yellow before being sold to Australian Southern Railroad in 1997.
The final batch of wagons numbered AHGX 121-132 were delivered in 1983. All wagons from SHBX 53-AHGX 132 were delivered on the Broad Gauge, although they were bogie exchangeable, and could be seen running in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales, on both gauges and in a variety of liveries from the late 1970s to the early 1990s.
5 wagons were recoded to AHPX for hauling soda ash. These wagons were in operation from 1989, and were eventually recoded back to AHGX in 1996.
1992 saw the first AHGX transferred to Narrow Gauge on the Eyre Peninsular network. 10 wagons in total were transferred and were recoded ENHB. These 10 were returned to Standard Gauge in 2001.
When all 132 hoppers were sold to Australian Southern Railroad (ASR) in 1997, roll top tarps replaced the 3 roof hatches, and ‘Suitable for Canola’ stickers were placed on AHGX 1-52, which were built with a different discharge gate to AHGX 53-132. The AN green and yellow livery was slightly modified, with the logos being painted over along with most of the yellow band, and the databoard being placed high up on the side of the wagon to avoid graffiti attacks.
In 2003, 70 AHGX hoppers were sold to Manildra Group for operation in NSW. These 70 comprised of only 2 original 1969 built hoppers – the other 68 were drawn from the 53-132 series wagons. The square gate system on the 1969 built hoppers was more desirable and was able to handle a wider variety of grains. The 1979 narrow gate system was not as suitable.
In 2004, 10 Manildra owned AHGX hoppers were destroyed near Parkes NSW. The following year, Manildra Group classified all their hoppers as MHGX hoppers. The ‘M’ reflecting Manildra ownership. Later that year, Manildra swapped 18 MHGX hoppers with Australian Railroad Group (the evolved ASR, now including AWR/Westrail). Manildra Group supplied 18 narrow gate wagons, in return for 18 original square gate wagons. Many of the Manildra supplied hoppers were already marked as MHGX and had been repainted yellow, where as the ARG supplied hoppers were still green.
In 2006 AHGX 2 was transferred to the WA Narrow Gauge and reclassified as AGHF 34111. Also in this year, ARG leased another 6 AHGX hoppers to Manildra Group. These 6 all have the square gates and are painted green, and are still leased to Manildra Group in 2008.
2006 also saw the sale of the Western Australian operations of ARG to Queensland Rail. The South Australian operations became Genesee & Wyoming Australia (GWA).
A snapshot of the AHGX fleet as of 07/2006 is as follows:
20 square gate, 40 narrow gate.
(6 leased to Manildra Group)
30 x AHGX. Narrow Gate
The 30 Standard Gauge AHGX hoppers owned by ARG/QR were moved to Western Australia and placed on the Narrow Gauge, for grain operations. These were numbered AGHF 34134-34172. Interestingly, all 18 that were swapped by Manildra Group ended up with ARG/QR.
In 2007, all 31 ARG/QR AHGF hoppers, as well as the available 25 GWA AHGX hoppers were hired by El Zorro Transport for hauling grain for AWB in Victoria, and later New South Wales and South Australia. These 56 hoppers are spread across the Standard and Broad Gauge networks, and have been converted between gauges in 2008.
It is expected that the 25 GWA hoppers will be returned by El Zorro, and will all be converted to Broad Gauge, to haul grain in Victoria for ABB.
By Chris Jones
SHBX/AHGX GRAIN HOPPER – PROTOTYPE PHOTOS
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