The eight locomotives began life as members of the Queensland Railways 1320 class, before being sold to AN and shipped to Tasmania in 1988, where six of the eight locomotives received some use as ZC class locomotives. The locomotives were purchased by American company Morrison Knudsen in 1994, and shipped to their Whyalla factory in South Australia for rebuilding and eventual leasing to operators. The rebuilding process included construction of a new nose/cab area, complete overhaul and installation of equipment to interface the existing EE standard 110v control system with the more common US standard 72volt notched control system.
The locomotives of this class are widely travelled. Locos 1 to 4 spent time working in Malaysia, while MKA5 & MKA6 worked the BHP tramway at Whyalla for a period, before going to southern Africa for industrial service. In mid 2004, locomotives MKA1 to 3 were purchased by Pacific National for use in Queensland on shunting and trip train working in the Brisbane area, while MKA4, and the then unused MKA7 and 8 were acquired by PN for use in Tasmania. These three locomotives arrived in Tasmania in early December 2004 and started being used in regular service away from the Launceston area from December 2005
From December 2006 the three stored Queensland locomotives were progressively transferred from Gympie to Melbourne where they received some work before being shipped to Tasmania. The second group of locos arrived in Tasmania in early 2007, and entered service from July 2007. In line with PNT standards, the six locomotives have been renumbered into the 213x series, and are painted in two variations of the corporate standard PN blue and yellow colours.
In Tasmanian service, the locomotives operated interchangeably with the DQ locomotives on all available lines including the Melba line. A number of locomotives were stored from early 2014 as mechanical attention was required and the remainders followed once the TR class locomotives were delivered.
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