End of an era for locomotives

There will be mixed emotions at EDI Downer Rail at the end of this week as the 236th and final locomotive is completed and shipped off.

Over the past 10 years the company has been responsible for the manufacturing of locomotive under-frames that have seen trains produced and sent all around Australia.

Downer Rail general manager of operations Andrew Dempster said it was an achievement that shouldn’t be underestimated.

“It’s a huge achievement, especially when you put it in context in June 2002 was when we started this, the original contract was only for 10 under-frames, 10 under-frames turned into 236 in 10 years,” he said.

Mr Dempster said workers were sad to find out that the under-frames would no longer be manufactured in Port Augusta.

“A lot of mixed emotions, is a good way to put it, mixed emotions in that we have been planning for this for some time as far as we knew when the contracts were going to run out but people take pride in seeing an under-frame go out of here, that put people on a bit of a low for quite a while until they realised we were picking up a lot of the other business,” he said.

“It’s been a really well planned transition.”

Mr Dempster said the transition into maintenance was a sustainable business model.

“We’ve got locomotives out here in service for 40-odd years, so we all got a bit upset about the under-frames but to put in context of what we are trying to do as a business this is how we are trying to plan ready for the future,” he said.

Superintendent of locomotive overhauls John Noll said it would be an end of an era.

“I’ve been here for 41 years, I did my apprenticeship here and moved around to a few different areas, but it will be different not manufacturing the under-frames anymore,” he said.

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