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LIST PRICE $240.00






GRAIN HOPPERS – Notes courtesy Sean Kelly

The original C-35 hopper, as built for ATN, who at the time had a 6 year contract with AWB Limited. The 44 ‘XGAY’ hoppers were branded with AWB logos with the slogan “Turning Wheat into Gold”. See logo above. A well worn XGAY 0013 gives a good side on portrait to compare with the WG hoppers. 19/07/2005.

In the late 1990’s US Railroad “Wisconsin Central” invested worldwide in various railways (England, Jordan, New Zealand etc.) including bidding for Government railways that were being privatized here in Australia. Bidding was successful in Tasmania. This formed a foundation for Australian Transport Network, but WC failed to obtain the freight franchises in Victoria and Western Australia.

In order to assist AWB Limited with its logistical difficulties, a second “above rail” operation (apart from Tasrail) was set up in Victoria. Initially “ATN Access” was created to service the new, prototype, AWB, bulk loading facility at Dimboola which was to feed the new bulk loading facility at Appleton Dock in Melbourne. However at the demand of AWB Limited, the ATN Access train’s duty soon turned primarily to N.S.W. from the Riverina to Port Kembla.

To run this train four out of a total of seven ex W.A.G.R. “L” classes that the company had previously purchased were partly reconditioned by N.R.E.C. in Whyalla, South Australia.

ATN considered local manufactures for the grain hoppers, but the lead time was way too long and the price was high; so alternatively, ATN sought the assistance of transport and engineering company, Macfield. Their Mechanical Engineer designed a wagon with a low tare to load ratio. Macfield, who already had experience with building Chinese flatcars for Austrac, outsourced the construction to the ATN hoppers to the Chinese State Railways workshop at Qi-Qi-Har in far northern China. This wagon was capable of an axle load of 23 tone, giving it a 92 tone gross weight. That meant an XGAY could carry 17 tone more than a Victorian VHGY (a “Bullet” or “Goofy”) hopper.

There, with a labour force of approximately 20,000 workers, the Qi-Qi-Har shops turned out the 44 ATN ordered wagons in just twelve weeks. The set was built initially to run a 40 car train with a 10% allowance for equipment out of service. In practice however, the train usually operated as a
42 car train.

Essentially the “XGAY” hoppers were built offshore for speed in delivery and much lower price. The concept was that the wagons were designed for a ten year lifespan before being scrapped and replaced by even heavier load caring wagons (assuming Australian axle loads increased over the decade).
The cars went into service in August 2000, and although only designed for a 10 year service life, have recently re-entered service IN August 2016 with Pacific National hauling wheat from Werris Creek to Geelong.

C-35 Mark 2 WGBY 1018 has just been unloaded off the ship, and placed onto the rails at Carrington’s West Basin. The wagon is waiting to be matched up with its partner WGBY 1017. In the back ground, more WGBY hoppers can be seen on the deck of the ship in East Basin. 3/3/2009


History: Originally established as an Australian government body during the 1930’s, AWB Limited (AWB) commenced operations in its present form on the 1st July 1999 when it was restructured as a private company. AWB is Australia’s largest Agribusiness

AWB’s first foray into rail haulage occurred in 2000, when they awarded a 6 year contact to ATN Access. ATN Access, owned by US operator Wisconsin Central, purchased 44 ‘XGAY’ grain hoppers (model C-35) from China to service the contract. In 2004, Pacific National (PN) purchased ATN Access and now own and operate all 44’ XGAY’ wagons

In 2008, AWB teamed up with Victorian based operator El Zorro, to run grain trains in NSW and Victoria, on both the standard and broad gauge. El Zorro was contracted to provide hook and pull services. It was quickly evident that there was a short supply of grain hoppers outside of the Pacific National fleet, and in late 2008 AWB purchased 85 ‘WGBY’ hoppers through CIMC Rolling Stock Australia. These hoppers were an upgraded C-35 design (known as the C-35 mk2), and arrived in Newcastle in early 2009.

Additional wagons were purchased in late 2009, with 90 ‘WGSY’ hoppers arriving in Newcastle in mid 2010.

Description:: The WGBY and WGSY are virtually identical in design and construction. Each wagon has a single piece roof hatch and four discharge gates, which can be operated in pairs. The gates and hatch are pneumatically controlled by ground operated handles with main reservoir air pressure supplying the Norgren pneumatic components. Unlike the early grain hoppers, the discharge gates are inclined to minimize any product remaining in the gate area after discharging.

The cubic capacity of 85 meters is ideal for grain products, and a height of 3748mm allows loading at almost any site in Australia. The maximum load is 68 tones, bringing the gross weight to 92 tones.

While the WGSY hoppers are single units, the WGBY hoppers are set up as permanently bar coupled two-packs. This arrangement reduces in train forces and shortens the wagon length by 200mm, due to the draw bar being shorter than two standard couplers. One disadvantage is that two hoppers may be removed from service for maintenance even though only one requires repairs.
Each WGBY is fitted with a full set of air brake equipment so ultimately could be separated if required. The wagons are paired in sequential numbers; 1001 & 1002 are the first pair, with the bar coupling connecting both A ends on the wagon. This placed the B ends (Handbrake ends) at the outer ends of the two-pack. 85 WGBY hoppers were built, and hopper 1085 remains stored in Newcastle as a spare hopper chassis.

The air brakes are controlled by a Chinese manufactured 120AK valve, and each hopper is fitted with two brake cylinders, as well as other air brake components. Each brake cylinder controls the brakes on one bogie. The bogies are low track force (LTF) cross braced 70t bogies which produce excellent ride characteristics and minimal wheel wear.

The WGBY hoppers are fitted with WMLE bogies and the WGSY hoppers are fitted with WAAE bogies. The WAAE bogies are designed to be easily gauge convertible, with modified clearances for broad gauge (BG) brake beams and wheelsets. The BG wheelsets are designed as ‘push-in’ axles, which allows the wheel disc to be pushed in on the axle to convert it to a standard gauge wheelset (or vise-versa). This concept has been used in Victoria for many years.

The colour scheme is very plain, with no corporate logos on the hopper, and only a small loading diagram on the side of each wagon. Both classes of wagons were delivered in a dark blue colour, however the WGSY has a more purple tinge to the colour.

Operations: Currently operated solely by El Zorro, as the hook and pull provider to AWB Limited, the normal train consist of around 40 wagons. While all WGBY wagons remain on the standard gauge, operating in SA, VIC & NSW the first 42 WGSY wagons (2001-2042) have been gauge converted in May 2010 to operate on the Victorian Broad Gauge network. This rake will replace leased AHGX hoppers. The remaining 48 WGSY wagons will remain on the standard gauge.

Gauge convertible WGSY 2018 has arrived in Melbourne, from Newcastle ready for gauge conversion at the Creek Terminal.  Sitting on standard gauge, by the end of the day, this wagon and 5 others were on the broad gauge ready to depart.  18/05/2010 

BGSY Grain Hopper

By Chris Jones

bgsy table


The BGSY hoppers are based on the successful C35 design which dates back to May 2000. The first wagons being delivery were 44 ‘XGAY’ hoppers for ATN Access. Following orders included 84 ‘WGBY’ and 90 ‘WGSY’ hoppers for AWB (now Cargill), being delivered in the late 2000s.
The BGSY is very similar in design and external appearance to the previous C35 hoppers, and especially the WBSY. The C35 design is a Chinese design, based on a domestic Chinese grain hopper.
SSR has purchased 44 BGSY hoppers to serve a long term haulage contract with George Weston Foods (GWF) which requires grain from throughout NSW to be hauled to the mill complex in Enfield, Sydney. Along with the wagons SSR has also purchased two brand new GT46ACE locomotives from Downer. These are locomotives SSR101 and SSR102.
The hoppers were built by Qiqihar Railway Rolling Stock Company (QRRS) at their Qiqihar facility in far northern China.


The BGSY wagons are very similar to the WGSY wagons in design and construction. They are a single wagon hopper, painted in the bright SSR yellow colour, and carry both SSR and GWF logos.
Each wagon has a long roof opening for loading, with a single piece hatch keeping the contents dry. The discharge of the product is through for gates which are controlled as pairs. All top and bottom operations are controlled from toggles mounted at ground level, which activated pneumatic cylinders supplied by Norgren.
The cubic capacity of 85m is ideal for grain, ensuing the wagon cannot be overloaded at mainline sites. The loading height of 3750mm makes the hopper compatible with all silos in NSW (and generally Australia). The maximum load for the hopper is 68 tonnes, giving a total gross weight of 92 tonnes.
The wagon is fitted with a relayed brake system which is also a ‘two-pipe’ system. This ‘two-pipe’ system allows the main reservoir to assist the brake pipe in the recharging of an air receiver which applies the brakes, essentially making it easier and safer to descend long steep grades.
The air brakes are controlled by a 120AK Chinese valve, and a brake cylinder at either end of the hopper applies the brakes on the respective bogie below it.
The bogies are the standard QRRS low track force cross braces style, and they are painted black. These bogies provide an excellent ride quality for the wagon and significantly reduce wheel wear.


Having only arrived in mid -November 2014, the BGSY wagons have seen very limited service, after being stored at Blayney for a short period of time. The BGSY fleet has replaced the Graincorp leased wagons which are used by SSR for delivering grain to the GWF mill Enfield. This mill has been known as ‘Westons’ for many years although ‘Weston Milling’ is now known as ‘MauriANZ’.
The BGSY hoppers will quickly become a familiar sight being hauled by the SSR class GT46ACE locomotives, travelling all over the state, collecting grain for domestic milling at Enfield.

BGSY 1005-R waits for a final inspection on the ‘Inspection Pad’ in Qiqihar China on 15 September 2014.

Only a body shell, with some brackets fitted, an unidentified BGSY is under construction at QRRS workshops China on 8 August 2014.

Having just arrived at West Basin, Newcastle on 9 November 2014, all 44 BGSY wagons wait patiently for pick up by SSR. Newcastle Agri-Terminal is in the background.

Prototype Drawings

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