NZR DM class

NZR DM class

D2778 awaiting departure from Johnsonville, the terminus of the Johnsonville Line.
In service July 1938 - 2012 (planned)
Manufacturer English Electric
Built at Preston Works, United Kingdom
Replaced Replaced by Matangi units 2011-12
Constructed 1938 - 1954
Entered service July 1938 (36 stock)
December 1946 (42 stock)
August 1949-March 1954 (46 stock)
Refurbishment 2005-2007 (Tranz Metro)
Scrapped 1978 - 1994 (36, 42 stock)
2011-12 (46 stock)
Number built 49
Number in service 16
Formation DM-D (Johnsonville line and Melling Line)
D-DM-D (Hutt Valley Line)
Fleet numbers D2130-2869
DM147 - 562
Capacity 132 (two-car sets)
204 (three-car sets)
Operator Tranz Metro
Line(s) served Johnsonville Line, Melling Line (two-car sets)
Hutt Valley Line,(three-car sets)
Car length 19.2 metres (63 ft) each car
Maximum speed 97 km/h (60 mph)
Weight 43.5 tonnes (42.8 long tons)
Power output 447 kW (599 hp)
Electric system(s) 1500 V DC overhead
Braking system(s) Handbrakes
Gauge 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) Cape gauge

The NZR DM/D class is a type of electric multiple unit used on the rail passenger network of Wellington, New Zealand formed of DM power cars and D trailers. They are owned by the Greater Wellington Regional Council and operated by Tranz Metro, a division of national railway operator KiwiRail.[1]



Built by English Electric, they were introduced in 1938 following the opening of the Tawa Flat deviation of the North Island Main Trunk - the section of the old NIMT from Wellington to Johnsonville became the Johnsonville Line from 2 July. Ordered in 1936, the first six DM motor cars and D trailers inaugurated the service. Due to traffic growth, three more DM cars and two more D trailers were ordered in 1942 and placed into service in 1946.

Forty more DM cars and 71 D trailers were ordered in 1946 and supplied from 1949 on for an expansion of Wellington suburban services to the Wellington - Upper Hutt line. They were supplied from 1949 and were used on the Wellington - Paekakariki service, as the Hutt Valley electrification was not then completed. However this required the use of prewar wooden carriages with electric locomotives in peak periods on the Hutt line until the EM units were supplied.[2]

The multiple units were known as the 36, 42 and 46 stock from the year that they were ordered.


They operate in one of two train configurations:

  • Two-car unit (DM-D). Primarily used on the steep Johnsonville Branch, as a four-car train for peak and two-car train of off-peak and weekend. A two-car unit is 38.4 metres long with a tare weight of 69.7 t, full seated load 79.9 t. There are eleven two-car units in service.
  • Three-car unit (D-DM-D). Mainly used on the Wellington Station to Taita and Wellington to Melling lines. A three-car unit is 57.5 metres long with a tare weight of 99.5 t. There are five three-car units in service.

The DM/D class is amongst the oldest rolling stock operated by KiwiRail. Those in service are the 46 stock introduced in 1949 to 1954 - the 36 and 42 stock were withdrawn in the early 1980s. The DM motor cars have 54 seats and D trailers have 70 seats (originally 56 and 72 seats).

Technical details

There are some differences between the 36 and 42 sets and the 49 sets. Because of their shorter wheelbase and the smaller motor-generator set designed for one trailer unit only, the 36 & 42 sets were kept for the Johnsonville line as much as possible (Hoy).

Originally there was a double seat alongside the driver’s cab of the motor and trailer coaches, but during renovations this seat was removed, reducing the seating by two, and a barrier was installed level with the back of the cab.

Some motor coaches had the double seats in the rear section in front of the luggage compartment removed and the seats parallel with the sides extended; this was to provide space for prams on daytime services (Hoy).

Each car had 10 150V electric heaters in series, run off the 1500V supply, so a 1500V connection was required between the motor and trailer coaches (Hoy).

The 46 stock differed from the 36 and 42 stock in some respects:

  • On the 36 and 42 motor coaches a 120V DC motor-generator set supplied power for lights, signal circuits and brake & door operation; the 46 set was larger to supply two not one trailer cars (Hoy).
  • Longer bogie wheelbase: on 46 stock, 8 ft (2.4 m); 36 and 42 stock, 7 ft 6 in (2.3 m) (Churchman, Hoy).
  • Shorter windows and door ventilation louvres on 36 and 42 stock (Churchman).
  • The 46 stock had Westinghouse electro-pneumatic air brakes and automatic brake equipment; the 36 & 42 stock had one coach-mounted brake cylinder only (Churchman, Hoy).
  • All the motor coaches originally had a driver’s cab at each end, but extra space was needed in the luggage compartment and the cab there was removed. Initially a single motor coach had been used on the Johnsonville line for the all-night service, and this was considered for the Melling line (Hoy).


The introduction of the EM class units and ET trailers in the early 1980s made some of the DM/D class redundant, but ten motor-trailer sets were refurbished between 1984 and 1987 for continued operation on the Johnsonville Branch where EMs do not have running rights due to their being overgauge, and for peak-hour running on the Hutt Valley and Melling lines.

The introduction of the Matangi units in 2011-12 will replace all the DM class. Metlink's latest plan is to have all EE units retired by July 2012.


The units underwent a moderate refurbishment to extend their operational lives to about 2012, by the time they will be replaced by Matangi units. The refurbishment largely involves a cosmetic upgrade of the exterior and interior of the cars, with new seating and a major mechanical overhaul.

In February 2007, overcrowding of Wellington trains resulted in the recommendation by the Greater Wellington Regional Council to re-introduce five DM/D cars,[3] three Tranz Metro units being used for spares and two from the Ferrymead Railway.[4] These units entered service from October 2008.[5] Six ex-British Rail carriages top-and-tailed by EO locomotives were also used.[6]


The DM/D class are best known for the "Midland Red" livery that they wore for most or all of their working lives. When the EM class were introduced in the early 1980s in an olive paint scheme, the red of the older DM class became a distinguishing feature and they came to be nicknamed "old reds" and "red sets" in New Zealand railfan jargon.

The 36 stock were originally in royal blue, similar to MAXX Blue, with a thick white line along the sides below the windows. By the introduction of the 1949 batch, "Midland Red" was standard. In the mid-1980s some of the two-car DM/D units were repainted in the olive livery of the EM class, and through the 1990s and 2000s all sets were refurbished. Starting in 2005 the cars acquired the a new Tranz Metro livery with yellow safety ends and a dark blue stripe along the windows. A few sets remain in red, including the most famous member of the class, DM556 "Cyclops", whose restoration included new red paint and earned Tranz Metro a "business in conservation" award from the New Zealand Department of Conservation and the Wellington Conservation Board in 2006.[7]

Preserved units

DM320 and trailer D2695 (originally Dm 27, D 163), currently operating in Wellington, were preserved by the Ferrymead Railway and will return there. A D pair is used in the Hibiscus Coast north of Auckland as a private residence. Some of the Johnsonville trains will be preserved when replaced by Matangi units. The three-car DM556 "Cyclops" set is likely to be preserved.[citation needed]

Class register

Key: In service Out of service Auckland Transport service Preserved Overhaul Scrapped
TMS No. Original No. Introduced Withdrawn Current status Current livery Notes
DM55 Dm 1 01938-06 June 1938 01981-11 November 1981 Scrapped
DM61 Dm 2 01938-06 June 1938 01982-09 September 1982 Scrapped
DM78 Dm 3 01938-06 June 1938 01982-09 September 1982 Scrapped
DM84 Dm 4 01938-06 June 1938 01983-04 April 1983 Scrapped
DM90 Dm 5 01938-06 June 1938 01983-04 April 1983 Scrapped
DM101 Dm 6 01938-06 June 1938 01981-04 April 1981 Scrapped
DM118 Dm 7 01946-10 October 1946 01983-07 July 1983 Scrapped
DM124 Dm 8 01946-10 October 1946 01983-07 July 1983 Scrapped
DM130 Dm 9 01946-12 December 1946 01981-11 November 1981 Scrapped
DM147 Dm 10 01949-08 August 1949 In service Tranz Metro Blue
DM153 Dm 11 01949-09 September 1949 out of service Tranz Metro Blue 3-car set
DM176 Dm 12 01949-11 November 1949 01987-10 October 1987 Scrapped
Dm 13 01949-10 October 1949 01978-04 April 1978 Scrapped
DM182 Dm 14 01950-02 February 1950 In service Tranz Metro Blue
DM199 Dm 15 01949-12 December 1949 01986-05 May 1986 Scrapped
DM216 Dm 16 01949-12 December 1949 In service NZR Midland Red (Also known as Phoenix) Withdrawn 2001, returned to service October 2008. Will return to Ferrymead in 2011/2012.
DM222 Dm 17 01949-12 December 1949 Scrapped Withdrawal date unknown
DM239 Dm 18 01950-02 February 1950 Scrapped Withdrawal date unknown
DM245 Dm 19 01950-04 April 1950 01986-10 October 1986 Scrapped
DM251 Dm 20 01950-05 May 1950 In service Tranz Metro Blue 3-car set
DM268 Dm 21 01950-06 June 1950 Scrapped Withdrawal date unknown
DM274 Dm 22 01950-06 June 1950 01986-10 October 1986 Scrapped
DM280 Dm 23 01950-10 October 1950 01989-02 February 1989 Scrapped
DM297 Dm 24 01950-09 September 1950 In service Tranz Metro Blue
DM308 Dm 25 01950-09 September 1950 Scrapped Withdrawal date unknown
DM314 Dm 26 01950-12 December 1950 Scrapped Withdrawal date unknown
DM320 Dm 27 01951-03 March 1951 01988-06 June 1988 In service NZR Midland Red Preserved Ferrymead Railway, Christchurch, returned to service October 2008 and reverted to Dm 27/D 163. It will return to Ferrymead in 2011/2012.
DM337 Dm 28 01951-06 June 1951 01987-02 February 1987 Scrapped
DM343 Dm 29 01950-11 November 1950 01986-10 October 1986 Scrapped
DM366 Dm 30 01951-08 August 1951 In service Tranz Metro Blue
DM372 Dm 31 01951-09 September 1951 01988-05 May 1988 Scrapped
DM389 Dm 32 01951-09 September 1951 01992-03 March 1992 Scrapped
DM395 Dm 33 01951-09 September 1951 01985-07 July 1985 Scrapped
DM406 Dm 34 01952-03 March 1952 01986-10 October 1986 Scrapped
DM412 Dm 35 01952-07 July 1952 01986-10 October 1986 Scrapped
DM429 Dm 36 01952-07 July 1952 In service Tranz Metro Blue
DM435 Dm 37 01952-10 October 1952 Scrapped Withdrawal date unknown
DM441 Dm 38 01952-12 December 1952 In service Tranz Metro Blue Was out of service from 11 October 2010 until 27 January 2011, when it caught fire, banks burnt out and traction motor gears were noisy. Taken to Hutt Workshops for overhaul and repair. Re-entered service 2 February 2011.
DM458 Dm 39 01952-12 December 1952 01988-05 May 1988 Scrapped
DM464 Dm 40 01953-02 February 1953 01992-05 May 1992 Scrapped
DM470 Dm 41 01953-03 March 1953 Out of service Tranz Metro Blue Control fault - as of August 22, 2011 no decision was made on repair.
DM487 Dm 42 01953-03 March 1953 Scrapped Withdrawal date unknown
DM493 Dm 43 01953-04 April 1953 01986-05 May 1986 Scrapped
DM504 Dm 44 01953-07 July 1953 In service Tranz Metro Blue 3-car set
DM510 Dm 45 01954-02 February 1954 In service Tranz Metro Blue
DM527 Dm 46 01954-04 April 1954 In service Tranz Metro Blue 3-car set
DM533 Dm 47 01953-12 December 1953 01982-08 August 1982 Scrapped
DM556 Dm 48 01954-03 March 1954 In service NZR Midland Red "Cyclops", refurbished 3-car set
DM562 Dm 49 01954-03 March 1954 In service Tranz Metro Blue
D2438 D 139 01951-03 March 1951 01994-01 January 1994 Preserved Private residence, Hibiscus Coast.
D2751 D 169 01953-08 August 1953 01994-01 January 1994 Preserved Private residence, Hibiscus Coast.




  • Churchman, Geoffrey B. The Story of the Wellington to Johnsonville Railway (1988, Industrial Publishing Ltd, Wellington) ISBN 0-9597832-1-0
  • Gregor, Alex W New suburban electric trains for Wellington (July 1981 NZIE (New Zealand Institution of Engineers) Transactions Vol. 8, No. 2/EMCh pp33–45)
  • Hoy, D.G. Rails out of the Capital (NZRLS, 1970; Chapter 12 pp66–69 by K. J. Hoddinott on multiple-unit electric trains)
  • Parsons, David - New Zealand Railway Motive Power 2002 [1]

External links

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