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A History of Commonwealth Engineering Volume 5: 1985-1990 (plus ABB, Adtranz and Bombardier to 2012)

304 pp, 290 x 210 mm, 500 colour plates and 500 b&w illustrations

9781922013521, $65.00, Hardcover

John Dunn

Available: Now

This volume takes up the account of Comeng's history from 1985 (where the previous volume left oft) and carries the story through to 1990-and then on into the post-Comeng era at Dandenong of ASEA Brown Boveri (ABB), Adtranz and Bombardier.

In 1985, and under the most difficult of circum¬stances, the Dandenong plant in Victoria won a con¬tract for new light rail vehicles for Hong Kong-their first export order. Though this potentially opened the door for further export work for Comeng in South-East Asia, the ANI directors were unprepared to follow up such opportunities.

By 1986 railway rolling stock contracts were drying up in Australia, and the Comeng management was look¬ing for other opportunities overseas. Bids were made on a score of fronts, though without any success. This was largely because the Australian Government was unwill¬ing to financially support Comeng in the same way that foreign governments backed their own manufactures. Comeng just could not compete under those circum¬stances.

There was a ray of hope in 1986 when an inquiry came from North America for Comeng to tender on new commuter trains for the Long Island Rail Road in New York. The project was pursued with vigor, and Comeng became the preferred bidder against world¬wide competition. The contract was virtually 'in the bag' when, at the eleventh hour, ANI pulled the plug and so the project collapsed.

When ANI pulled out, this symbolically signally the end of Comeng. Behind the scenes ANI was in trouble financially and Comeng became one of the causalities. All the plants (except that in Dandenong) were progres¬sively wound down and closed. By this time the highly successful and profitable South African subsidiary, the Union Carriage & Wagon Co. (UCW), had also been sold by ANI. The Comeng Victorian plant was pur¬chased by Asea Brown Boveri (ABB) in 1990, and the work of designing and building rolling stock has con¬tinued there to this day-though now under the name of Bombardier.

This volume therefore includes the products that have been turned out from the Dandenong plant from the time when Comeng's name ceased to exist. It in¬cludes descriptions of the new XPT sleeping cars; the Xplorer and Endeavour railcars; SEPTA transit cars for Philadelphia, and electric locos for India. There are brief descriptions of the other projects during the ABB¬Adtranz era. Finally, this volume concludes with a sum¬mary of the contracts won by Bombardier up to 2012.

John Dunn, began working with Comeng (Granville) in 1956 as an apprentice draftsman. He studied mechanical engineering at Sydney Technical College and then theology at the Adelaide Bible Institute and Sydney's Moore Theological College.

He attained the position of senior concept engineer in rolling stock design, working mainly in Comeng's Head Office at Granville. He was with the company until its closure in 1989, after which he continued to work for a further decade as an independent design, production and sales consultant for the new owners of the Comeng Victorian branch. John Dunn's own consultancy company, Transit Design, secured railway rolling stock design work with numerous other clients in Australia as well as in Europe, Hong Kong, Japan and the USA. After retiring in 2004 John Dunn has devoted much of his time to the research and writing of this history, and the pursuit of his responsibilities as a member of the ministry team at St Paul's Anglican Church, Chatswood, NSW

In April 2012 his health suddenly declined very rapidly and in June he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. By August he was no longer able to write or use his computer. His work on the Comeng history ceased and was completed by others under his supervision. John died on 30 December 2012.