The Y class was based on the then standard EE export design, seen in Australia as the Midland Railway (Western Australia) F class and South Australian 800 class. Eight Y class locomotives were in batches by the Launceston railway workshops between 1961 and 1972, using parts supplied by English Electric. The new locomotivs could operate in multiple with the earlier X class, although different performance characteristics meant that this was not optimal, although the XA class medications did go some way to improving this. At completion, Y4 was named Rowallan and Y5 Sir Charles Gairdner after the previous and current Tasmanian Governors respectively.
The Y class were initially used mostly in the south of the state, where their extra low speed haulage was put to good use on mainline services, and block log train on the Derwent Valley line. Y locos were often used on the Tasman Limited train when the load became too heavy for an X class, or on holiday periods when their increased fuel capacity allowed the journey to be undertaken without refuelling at Western Junction as was normal. All locos were later fitted with automatic couplers, and repainted yellow, with Y7 being involved in testing variation of this scheme before being the first to be released in the final version.
In 1991, Y6 hauled the remaining vacuum braked stock from Devonport to Launceston, ending the vacuum brake era on the mainline. All vacuum braked locos were then stored, with five going into preservation. Two locomotives, Y1 and Y5 were converted from vacuum to air brake in 1986, and remained in service as shunters at locations such as Derwent Park, Burnie, East Tamar and Boyer. They were later renumbered in 1998 to 2150 and 2151. They remained in service until early 2014 when they were stored prior to disposal. The shell and underframe of Y7 was modified in 2001 for further use as a remote driving trailer on cement train duties. See DV class page for more details of this vehicle
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