By 1996 it was clear that Australian National (AN) in its current form was unsustainable and so the various components were prepared for a sell off that came in early November 1997. The passenger business was sold to Great Southern Railway while the former AN South Australian freight assets were sold to Genesee & Wyoming Australia (GWA), trading initially as Australia Southern Railroad (ASR), who paid out the ALF/CLF/CLP lease arrangement. Although CLP15 had by then been withdrawn and later scrapped following a serious collision in early 1997, CLP10 and the other eight CLPs became ASR assets. Great Southern contracted National Rail to haul its trains and so their 81 and NR class locomotives displaced the CLPs from passenger service, and they were ‘demoted’ to ASR freight and grain service.
Initially ASR remained South Australian-based, but as it began to expand interstate so too did its locomotive fleet began to wander, notably supporting the FreightLink operation along the new Alice Springs to Darwin line, which was opened in 2004.
Soon consolidated as the Australian Railroad Group (ARG), operations also spread into NSW and Victoria and CLP10 – by 2008 the last of the nine remaining CLPs in the stylish green, yellow and silver livery particular to the class – was a regular in NSW working ARG’s ‘Manildra’ flour, starch and grain haulage contract. When finally repainted in the ARG standard orange and black, it was also briefly renumbered 3010 during 2005 – part of an ill-conceived attempt to renumber it’s by now quite disparate and varied national locomotive fleet into a standard classification system. It didn’t last.
During 2006 ARG was sliced up and sold off with the South Australian based components becoming wholly owned by Genesee & Wyoming Australia (GWA), and the interstate businesses and associated assets acquired by QRNational. CLP10 was among those locomotives to become a QRNational asset. QRNational – the interstate arm of Queensland Rail – put their acquired locomotives to work running fast interstate container freights between Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. However, QRN had designs on a newer locomotive pool on which to call, and as these began to arrive from 2009, the older CL locomotives were among those gradually sidelined. CLP10 was one of several unloved QRN streamliners shunted into a siding at Ettamogah (near Albury) during 2013 – forgotten until it and its ‘cell mates’ were shifted to Goulburn for further storage. While there, a number of the withdrawn QRN locomotives were sold to an overseas broker specialising in on-selling above rail assets around the globe.
However, things change and CLP10 and its sister locomotives remained in Goulburn while investors were sought. While this was going on the inaugural Streamliners event was held in Goulburn over the 2016 October long weekend, which included CLP11 as one of the displayed locomotives. It was around this time that renewed interest began to be shown in the historic significance of CLP10 as the last built streamliner in the world, and moves to save it started to gather momentum. The GoGetFunding crowd-funding campaign was started in 2017, but ramped up early the following year when it became clear that CLP10 may be transferred overseas and dismantled for parts. What came next could not have been predicted, but following the largest and most successful railway preservation crowd funding campaign in Australia, Streamliners Australia founder Bernie Baker issued the following statement on 21 June 2018:
“To the Railfans of Australia and indeed the world. Between your donations and our sponsor, CLP10 is staying in Australia.”
In consultation with sponsors and stakeholders, Streamliners Australia took the decision to cosmetically restore CLP10 as a CL – internally it would still be a CLP, but externally CL17 was to rise once more. Today CLP10 is under cover in Cootamundra with a team of devoted and hard-working volunteers giving up time, expense and effort to ensure that CL17 returns to the rails. Soon, that effort will be rewarded and it will not be long before CL17 is hauling heritage trains around Australia.
Streamliners Australia rally to save unique Goulburn loco (Goulburn Post)