XNW Grain Hopper

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Class XNW
Vehicle type Bogie grain hopper
First introduced 1969
To Port Lincoln 2001
Ex Port Lincoln 2005
Load capacity  
Number on Eyre Peninsula 40
Vehicle numbers XNW1-13, 15-18, 24 and 34051-34072

Beginning in September 2001, a wagon exchange program took place which implemented the first significant change to the Eyre Peninsula fleet in nearly a decade. The program was made possible by the takeover of the former government-owned Westrail by Australia Western Railroad, an associated company of Australia Southern Railroad which was then operating the Eyre Peninsula lines.

With a record harvest in South Australia and a poor season in Western Australia, eight narrow gauge XNW grain hoppers were transferred to Port Lincoln. This released the ten ENHB hoppers (originally AHGX class) from Port Lincoln for return to standard gauge. More transfers of XNWs followed this initial batch, and by late 2002 the whole class of 40 wagons was in service on Eyre Peninsula. The 'Westrail' lettering was progressively painted out while the wagons were on Eyre Peninsula.

XNW 1 on its arrival at Port Lincoln, September 2001. Photo: Gerald Petrie

These wagons arrived from Western Australia equipped with air-operated fibreglass hatch covers (all other Eyre Peninsula grain hoppers have manually-operated covers). The air for these is fed via a 'straight air' pipe connection, independent of the Westinghouse brake pipe. For this reason the XNWs were usually operated in blocks, and where possible were coupled to the locomotives when empty to ensure that their air reservoirs were fully charged when left at silos. Ausbulk also provided portable compressors at some locations to ensure that the hatch covers could be operated.

A rearrangement of grain train operations on Eyre Peninsula in 2005 meant that fewer grain hoppers were needed, and with a large harvest expected in Western Australia, all 40 XNWs were transferred back to their home state towards the end of 2005. The subsequent break-up of ARG means that is unlikely that these wagons will be seen in South Australia again.

While on Eyre Peninsula the XNW wagons were numbered 1-13, 15-18, 24 and 34051-34072. For further details and a history of these wagons in Western Australia, see Andy May's XNG Wagons page.

A rake of XNW wagons at Port Lincoln, November 2002. Note the various styles of 'painting out' of the Westrail lettering. Photo: Peter Knife

A block of twelve XNW wagons trail an empty grain train through Kyancutta on 9 April 2003. Photo: Richard Montgomery