DD17 No.1049

Stored at the Zig Zag Railway


DD17 No.1049 and C17 No.934 at Clarence Station on the Zig Zag Railway on 3 November 2001.
The locos had just brought their train from Top Points and are now running forward as part of the reversal procedure.



Ipswich Railway Workshops



Builder’s Number & Year

208 of 1951



Wheel Arrangement




No. in class



The 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 around the world for suburban passenger traffic, 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.

No.1049 entered service in December 1951 and was the second-last class member in QR service when condemned in June 1969. Fortunately No.1049 together with sisters No.1046 and 1047 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.

No.1049 was stored at the Zig Zag Railway’s Bottom Points depot from 1975 to 1994, when its turn for restoration finally came. The loco was road hauled to an apprentice training facility 'Skills West' in Penrith, where it received a comprehensive and fast overhaul. It was returned to service wearing a very handsome but unauthentic lined maroon livery. In more recent years No.1049 has been repainted to a livery described by the Zig Zag Railway as 'Improved Thomas Blue', which is also an unauthentic livery but similar to the original 'Blue Baby' livery worn in Brisbane suburban service. ‘Improved Thomas Blue’ has the added advantage of being particularly popular with the Zig Zag Railway’s younger visitors!

Alas the Zig Zag Railway has not been operational since 2011 due to accreditation issues, compounded by repeated bushfire damage and a significant embankment slip near Clarence. As a result, No.1049 has been stored at the Bottom Points workshop and depot; fortunately it seems to have escaped bushfire damage which did destroy wooden carriages stored nearby. I believe the loco is in reasonable order but any future return to service for No.1049 would require overhaul and full documentation to modern regulatory requirements.

Further information regarding DD17 No.1049 and the Zig Zag Railway can be found on their web site.

No.1049 running around its train at the Top Points reversing station, approximately 1998.

During 1998 the webmaster spent a glorious sun-filled day walking around Zig Zag Reserve photographing passing steam trains.

Here is No.1049 coasting downgrade through the curve of No.1 Viaduct on Top Road, photographed from Cockerton Place on Middle Road.

(It was often a long wait between photo opportunities!)



Armstrong, J. 'Locomotives in the Tropics - Volume 2

(Queensland Railways 1910 – 1958 and beyond)’,

published by the ARHS Queensland Division, 1994.


Cargill, A & O’Neill, S. ‘The Lithgow Zig Zag Railway’
published by The Zig Zag Trust and
The Zig Zag Railway Co-Op Ltd, 1976 (3rd Edition)

Page updated: 11 April 2020

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