English Electric Growl 

Classes: MKA class

MKA class

© English Electric Growl / Stuart Dix

Tasmania. Australia

MKA class no. 2132 was derailed during December 2008 and is seen here under repair at the East Tamar Workshops

© Stuart Dix

Information Missing:
Date to be confirmed.Can you help with the information required? Click Here to get in touch.

  • Overview
  • Status
  • Equipment
  • Specifications
  • History
  • Photographs
1995 (1), 2000 (2)
Rebuilt By
Morrison Knudsen Australia, Whyalla, South Australia (1) or
NRE-Alco, Whyalla, South Australia (2)
Running Numbers
MKA1-MKA8, MKA13-MKA16, 2131-2134, 2137, 2138
Number Rebuilt

2 later rebuilt and classified as CC class


The initial seven locomotives of this class were completed by Morrison Knudsen before the company stopped operating.
The last member of the class is thought to have been completed around this date by NREC.
Locomotive Status
English Electric 12CSVT MKII
Main Generator
English Electric 822/16J
Auxiliary Generator
English Electric 755
Traction Motors
English Electric 548 x 6
Locomotive Brakes
Air, Rheostatic.
Train Brakes
Wheel Arrangement
Imperial Metric
 3 ft 6 in
 1067 mm
Minimum Curve  
 264 ft 0 in
 80467 mm
 48 ft 0 in
 14630 mm
 9 ft 3 in
 2820 mm
 12 ft 4½ in
 3772 mm
 88 tons
 89.8 tonnes
Fuel Capacity  
 1200 Gallons
 5455 Litres
Power Rating  
 2025 / 1800 HP
 1510 / 1343 kW
Tractive Effort (Start)  
 77,990 lbs
 347 kN
Tractive Effort (Cont)  
 53,900 lbs at 10½ mph
 240 kN at 15 km/h
 50 mph
 80 km/h

The eight members of the MKA Class were rebuilt by the Morrison Knudsen Corporation[MKC] in Whyalla, South Australia. The locomotives were originally classified as the 1300 and 1320 class in Queensland, but after withdrawal there, they were shipped to Tasmania for re-use as the ZC class.


In the early 1990's, MKC, an American based company, set up an Australia branch to refurbish and renew worn out locomotives for the lease market, also to provide cover for a general traction shortage in the area at the time, well that was the intention. In 1993 the company made enquiries about the ZC class locomotives that had either not be reactivated at all, or had been reactivated and had again been sidelined, which at the time were stored at Longford, Hagley, Western Junction or Mowbray in Tasmania.


The company sent engineers to Tasmania to assess the locomotives, this led to ten locomotives being purchased, ZC6, ZC21, ZC22, ZC26, ZC27, ZC28, 1329, ZC31, 1332 and ZC41. In April 1994, the first four ZC's were ready for shipping and ZC21, ZC26, 1329 and 1332 departed by sea to South Australia where the rebuild began in ernest. The second batch was shipped in October 1994 and consisted of ZC22, ZC27, ZC31 and ZC41. This left ZC6 and ZC28 in Tasmania, these locomotives were stripped of all reusable components and the remains scrapped on site.


The most visible change of the MKA coversions was the new cab fitted, but a few technical changes 'inside' saw some of the original English Electric equipment being replaced with more modern microprocesser controls.


At the start of 1995, MKC agreed to hire the first four conversions to the workshops of Keretapi Tanah Melayu[KTM] in Malaysia. The workshops had been privatised and under an agreement with KTM Berhand, the train operator, they had to guarantee a minimum number of locomotives available for traffic. At this time a number of their Hitachi 23 Class and Toshiba 24 Class locomotives were due major overhauls and to alleviate the shortage, the workshops hired the MKA's as cover for the locomotives in works. MKA1, MKA2, MKA3 and MKA4 were all shipped to Malaysia in February 1995, having been regauged to 1000mm during their conversion.


The next three MKA locomotives converted were kept in warm store at Whyalla and were available for hire when required, they retained their 3ft 6in gauge. All are believed to have been hired to BHP at some point to assist in operations on their Whyalla system, although this ceased in 1999 when Australia Southern Railroad took over operations. The last member of the class remained unfinished in the Whyalla plant after MKC suffered trading difficulties before it was completed and the project was abandoned.


With seven complete locos and one partial finished, the problems with the company had meant that the locomotives on hire were no longer to be used and they were stored at either Klang, Malaysia or Whyalla, Australia. At the turn of the century, NREC-Alco took over ownership of the companies assets at Whyalla, this included the MKA locos in Malaysia.


Now may be the time to mention the renumbering of the ZC class locos to their MKA identities. This has always been controversial as no 'official' list has been produced, there are even a couple conflicting lists in circulation, but the most accepted as being correct appears here.


MKA NumberTasRail NumberQueensland NumberCurrent Number
MKA1Not renumbered13322131
MKA2Not renumbered13292132


The information above originated on an 'unofficial' basis from the MKC plant at Whyalla and the order of locomotive numberings marries with the dates the locomotives were shipped from Tasmania. Those indicated as MKA1 to MKA4 on the list, were the locomotives of the first batch shipped in April 1994. The later batch would have had to have been turned around in just four months which was unlikely due to the condition of the locomotives on arrival in Whyalla.


Back to the loco history, another change of ownership occurred some time in 2001, when NREC-Alco 'sold' the eight MKA locomotives to Rail Tech Support[RTS]. RTS were a similar type of company which bought, refurbed and sold on locomotives and other railway equipment.


On the MKA Class front, RTS's first deal concerned MKA5 and MKA6, these locos were reactivated and regauged before being sold to an chemical company, SEFICS, in Senegal, West Africa. They were transported to Port Pirie in April 2002, where they were loaded onto the BBC St John for forward shipment. On arrival in Senegal, the two locomotives were reclassified to the CC Class and numbered CC2025 and CC2026, reducing the class to six members.


The remaining six locomotives were now spread across two sites, RTS proceeded with the conversion of MKA8 at Whyalla and arranged the repatriation of the four locomotives from Malaysia, which was completed at the end of 2002. On arrival back in Australia, the KTM four, all underwent minor attention from RTS to make them operational.


As RTS were not in the hire market, they looked for prospective buyers for the class members that remained. The first three, MKA1, MKA2 and MKA3 were sold to Pacific National Queensland[PNQ] in 2003 and delivered to the RTS site at Maryborough before transfer to PNQ. PNQ were to begin operations in Queenland at the time and had ordered 13 new locomotives, but they would not be delivered until 2005, hence the purchase of the three MKA's to cover some of the smaller duties until the new PN class were delivered. The class was again, not surprisingly, dogged with problems during this period.


The remaining MKA's in South Australia were sold to Pacific National Tasmania[PNT] in 2004 to alleviate traction shortages in Tasmania. On arrival in Devonport in December 2004, they were transferred to East Tamar to undergo assessment, repairs and modifications required to bring them up to a serviceable condition. They were all repainted in the Blue and Yellow livery of PN, and almost a year after arriving, the first member entered service in December 2005, with all three in service by the end of January 2006.


The Tasmanian three were fairing better than those in Queensland, which by the start of 2006 had all been stored at the Old Gympie Station site and were up for sale. They remained at Gympie for a number of months until a new owner was found, PNT! Learning from the issues that PNT had with their first MKA's, the locomotives were first transferred to RTS Dynon in Melbourne, South Australia, where they underwent overhauls to the required standard.

In April 2007, 2131 and 2133, the former MKA1 and MKA3, arrived in Tasmania and were unveiled at a PNT press conference in Burnie Station. MKA2, to become 2132 in Tasmania, arrived towards the end of May, bringing the Tasmanian fleet to a total of six.


Towards the end of 2008, 2131 sustained major damage in a derailment at Colebrook, it was almost written off but one of the redundant ZC class locomotives at East Tamar was used as a donor to return it to service.


The six MKA's are now an important part of the Tasmanian fleet and improvements have been made to all locomotives during their time in service there. In 2010, the 'original' Morrison Knudsen traction control system was replaced with the ZTR Nexus system. In recent months, 6 refurbished 12CSVT Diesel engines have been purchased from the UK, ex-Class 37, and fitted to members of the class.

Click on Thumbnails below to see a larger image. [ 48 available ]


This page was last updated on Sunday March 11th 2018