PL type cars

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APL, BPL, BCPL type carriages
Manufacturer Victorian Railways
Family name PL-series
Constructed From 1917
Capacity APL, BPL: 82 passengers,
BCPL: 51 passengers
Operator Various heritage operators
Specifications
Car length 58 ft 0 in (17.68 m)
Width 9 ft 6 in (2.90 m)
Track gauge 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm)

The PL type carriages were a series of wooden passenger carriages used on the railways of Victoria, Australia. They consisted of the first class APL, second class BPL and combination second and guard's van, BCPL's.

Construction[edit]

When the Victorian Railways began to plan the electrification of the suburban rail network, they planned to include about 200 'excursion' cars, for use during special occasions or events, and when the main system required extra carriages to handle the load. When conversion of locomotive hauled cars into the "Swing Door" electric multiple unit trains occurred, the underframes were rendered surplus.

Instead of scrapping these, new bodies were fitted, and the carriages became first the APL series, then BPL's. Later, trials began for the BCPL series of passenger cars. In order to construct the carriages, the underframes had to be extended from 45 feet and 50 feet, to 58 feet.

Aside from class conversions and the creation of BCPL cars, as detailed below, the carriages more-or-less remained unchanged besides the fitting of vestibules in the late 1950s and electric lighting in the mid 60s.

Details[edit]

APL cars[edit]

The first ex-swing door conversion was APL 1. (It is believed that the underframe came from BC 2 when it was converted to ABCM 2 in 1917; later becoming 156M, the Jolimont Workshops shunting car.)

Cars APL 1 to APL 26, and APL 28 to APL 33, were all built with Sliding Doors, as per the Tait trains that were being built new for the suburban network at the time. These were found to cause draughts within the carriage compartments during high-speed running on country lines.

Because of the draught problem, APL 27 was built with trial hinged doors. This was a success, and so the original batch of APL's, fitted with sliding doors, were reclassed BPL 56-87.

A new batch of APL's were built to replace the lost APL 1 through APL 26 and APL 28 through APL 33, though APL 27 retained its identity. Then further cars from 34 to 54 were constructed. As a result, although the class never grew beyond APL 54, a total of 87 individual carriages carried the APL code.

In 1928 APL 20 (hinged-door) was converted to a railmotor trailer, coded MT 25. The car later became BCPL 1, as the classleader.

In 1932 and 1933, fifteen APL cars were converted to BPL's. Second-series APL cars 48, 3, 5, 9, 13, 7, 8, 16, 50, 53, 6, 10, 11, 49 and 15 took BPL numbers 28 and 47 (replacing cars since destroyed) and 88-100. These cars were all converted back to their original APL identities in the mid-1950s.

In 1960, all the remaining APL cars were converted to BPL's, range 88-126. However, when the 15 previously-converted cars were re-converted to BPLs only APL 8 returned to its previous identity of BPL 92. All the other carriages took new numbers.

Through the course of its life, APL 25 (2nd) was the only car in its class to retain its code and number through its whole life.

BPL cars[edit]

BPL stands for: B - second class, P - passageway (centre aisle), L - lavatory fitted.

There were fifty five BPL carriages built between 1919 and 1921. These were followed by conversions from the first batch of APL cars, bringing the class up to BPL 87.

The number group was eventually 1 - 126, including conversions from the first class cars.

When fifteen APL cars were converted to BPL, in 1932/33, their numbers followed on, starting from BPL 88. These cars were later recoded and renumbered back to APL. When the fleet of APL cars were reclassified to BPL in the mid 1960s, the APL cars previously coded BPL were not given their old "BPL" number back. This led to the same BPL number being occupied by different cars thirty years later. Further, after the first batch of APL-BPL conversions was reversed, the numbers BPL 28 and 47 were not re-filled.

The carriages, which were affectionately known as "Bouncing Passenger Lounges," were removed from service by the early 1980s.

BCPL cars[edit]

In 1928 APL 20 was converted to MT 25. In 1940, the car was recoded to BCPL 1. It was the only BCPL car until 1966.

The idea was to reduce the tonnage of short haul interurban trains by incorporating a guards van into a carriage rather than adding a dedicated guards van.

Between 1966 and 1973 another thirty cars were modified with van compartments and recoded to BCPL. Cars 2 through 14 were converted from APL class cars in 1966-67. Cars 15 through 32 were converted from BPL's from 1968 to 1973. Many of these BPL cars had previously been converted from APL cars anyway. Of the 15-32 batch, only cars 21, 24, 25 and 27-30 came from cars that were originally BPLs.

In the late 1970s BCPL 11 was converted to the 'Dance Car' for special train trips. The seats were removed allowing the car to become one large dance floor.

From 1978 to 1988 the cars were withdrawn from service and scrapped.

Demise[edit]

After World War II, the Victorian Railways were seriously run-down, with old rollingstock and lack of maintenance. As a result, patronage began to fall, and combined with motor car travel, the need for local train services fell very quickly.

This, combined with the age of the 'PL' series of passenger cars, caused scrapping to begin in 1978, which lasted until 1988.

Preservation[edit]

Both the Victorian Goldfields Railway and the Mornington Tourist Railway possess PL-series carriages.

The former has BPL 43 and BCPL's 16, 25, 29 and 30. The latter has BCPL 6 and BPL's 78 and 86. Aside from BPL 43, these carriages have all had other identities; respectively, APL 8/BPL 92, BPL 2, BPL 52, BPL 45, APL 6/BPL 96, APL 28 and APL 29. Effectively, four BPLs and two of each type of APL exist.

Model railways[edit]

HO Scale[edit]

Austrains in 2014 displayed pre-production models of their PL-type carriages, with three-carriage sets retailing for $350.00 if ordered before May 2014.[1]

References[edit]