DD17 class locomotives were the final development of Queensland Railways
(QR) steam power for Brisbane suburban workings; this successful design
benefitted from the early lessons from the 6D16 class 4-6-2T locos (later
converted to 4-6-4T) and experience with the later D17 class 4-6-4T locos.
The 4-6-4T configuration was popular for suburban passenger traffic around
the world, key features being a symmetrical wheel arrangement that was
equally suited to forward or reverse travel at speed, good adhesion from
the mass of water tanks over the driving wheels, and good visibility in
both directions. The DD17’s were modern locomotives, featuring extensive
use of welded components, superheated boilers, electric lighting,
mechanical lubricators and roller bearings on all axles. Twelve DD17 class
locomotives were built at Ipswich Railway Workshops, the first six (949 -
954) in 1948-49 and the final six (1046 – 1051) between 1950 and 1952. The
class featured an attractive blue livery, a stark contrast to the black livery
worn by the earlier D17 and 6D16 class locomotives. I believe the class
were known as ‘Blue Babies’ by railwaymen and Brisbane residents.
entered service in June 1951 and was condemned in October 1968 after a
working life of only 17 years. Fortunately No.1047 together with sisters
No.1046 and 1049 were saved from the Ipswich Workshops scrap line by the
Zig Zag Railway Preservation Society Co-Operative Ltd. for use on their
formative heritage railway based on the Great Zig Zag Railway at Lithgow, NSW.
(Presumably these three DD17’s were judged to be the best candidates among
the steam locos on the Ipswich scrap line at that time; records show they
were the last three DD17’s to be condemned, together with their modern
design and suitability for operation in either direction as required by the
Zig Zag reversals. Other candidates on the Ipswich scrap line at the time
included several PB15 class 4-6-0 locos.) The three DD17’s were delivered
to the Zig Zag Railway’s newly created Bottom Points depot on 16 March 1975
via standard-gauge flatcars; interestingly, a temporary slew was created on
the adjacent Great Western Railway main line to allow the locos (and some
NSWGR passenger stock) to be reversed into the depot, which is in an
otherwise inaccessible location.
was initially stored at the Zig Zag Railway’s Bottom Points depot from 1975
while sister No.1046 was restored to service for opening of the Zig Zag as
a tourist railway on 18 October 1975. While I can’t recall the restoration
date for No.1047, photos show it had been returned to service by 1979. A
high point in No.1047’s preservation career came on 29 October 1988 when it
hauled the opening train for the Zig Zag Railway’s extension from the
Chifley Road through the Mt Sinai cutting and Clarence Tunnel to Clarence
Station. In Zig Zag Railway service, No.1047 always wore the handsome
unlined blue livery authentic to that worn in Brisbane suburban service.
was withdrawn from Zig Zag Railway service by 1998 and placed in storage at
the rear of the Bottom Points workshops building. I believe No.1047 is
fairly worn and would therefore require a comprehensive overhaul, including
full documentation to modern standards, if it were ever to operate again.
It is interesting to reflect that the three DD17 locomotives at the Zig Zag
Railway have now been there for around 45 years, following a working life
with QR of less than 20 years!
the Zig Zag Railway has not been operational since 2011 due to
accreditation issues, compounded by bushfire damage and a significant
embankment slip near Clarence. While reopening work is ongoing, No.1047
remains stored behind the Bottom Points workshop; fortunately it seems to
have escaped the bushfire damage that has repeatedly struck the railway.
information regarding DD17 No.1047 and the Zig Zag Railway can be found on
would greatly appreciate the contribution of colour photos showing No.1047
(& No.1046) operating on the Zig Zag Railway in the 1970’s and 1980’s to
add to this page. Colour photos of DD17’s at work on Brisbane suburban
services are also welcome.