Swing Door (train)

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Swing Door
SwingDoor Newport Workshop.jpg
A Restored Swing Door at the Steamrail Open days in 2014
Manufacturer Victorian Railways
Built at Newport Workshops
Replaced Steam hauled carriages
Constructed 1887-1907 (built), converted 19
Entered service 1919 (as EMU cars)
Scrapped last in 1984
Number built 144 motor cars,
32 driving trailers,
112 trailers
Fleet numbers 1-164M (motor cars, with gaps),
1-32D (driving trailers),
1-111T, 126T (trailers)
Articulated sections None
Maximum speed 83 km/h (52 mph)
Traction system 4 x 105 kW GE239
Electric system(s) 1500V DC overhead
Restored Swing Door Carriage at Newport

Swing Door trains, commonly known as "Dogboxes" or "Doggies", were wooden-bodied electric multiple unit (EMU) trains that operated on the suburban railway network of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Swing Door cars had outward-opening doors. They were reasonably narrow, to ensure that two passing trains could not foul each other if doors were accidentally left open. At certain locations clearances were tight and there are stories of Swing Door cars losing doors that were not closed.[1] The fleet could be seen running in any arrangement, from one car (using a double-ended M car), up to eight cars.


The Swing Door trains were originally 13.7-metre long (44 ft 11 in) steam-hauled bogie passenger cars, the majority of which had been built between 1887 and 1893. When converted to electric traction between 1917 and 1924, the cars were extended by two compartments to a total length of 17.4 metres (57 ft 1 in), and then fitted onto new under-frames and bogies.[2] The conversion process was suddenly halted in 1924, with partially converted cars being patched up and returned to service with their original codes and numbers.[1]

Converted Swing Door cars originally entered service with class codes such as 'ACM', 'BCM', and 'ABCD', indicating both class and type. In 1921 this was largely simplified to 'M' (Motor car), 'T' (Trailer car) and 'D' (Driving trailer),[1] with the majority of trailers being made first class and motor cars second class.[2] Some exceptions were the six AM motors (1, 8, 15, 46, 65 & 78), first-class carriages allowed to work at higher rates of acceleration. These six motors were used in E-Trains, where two electric motors would run with up to six regular passenger cars/vans; at Lilydale or Frankston the motor cars would cut off and be replaced with steam engines for running to Warburton/Healesville and Mornington/Stony Point respectively.

Swing Door trains were fitted with the same General Electric multiple unit traction equipment as Tait EMU trains, so mixed sets occurred occasionally.

Six Swing Door M cars were converted to parcels vans (numbered 10CM to 15CM),[3] and two M cars, 156M and 113M, were modified for use as shunters in the Jolimont Workshops.[1]


The maximum size of the Swing Door train fleet was:[2]

  • 144 'M' motor cars (1-164M excluding 5, 7, 22, 24, 27, 31, 33, 36, 38, 42, 45, 47, 52-3, 55-6, 58-61)
    • 1, 8, 15, 46, 65, 78 coded ACM then AM until 1958; allowed 850 Amperes for acceleration rather than 650.
    • 155 thru 159, 162-164 double-ended and known as ABCM/ABM for a while; 157-159, 162-164 became CM vans in 10-15 range; 155 to Workmans Sleeper, 156 to Jolimont yards as shunter
    • 18M, 44M damaged in 1936, frames retained, bodies replaced with Tait style, renumbered 442M and 443M
  • 6 'CM' parcel motor vans
  • 32 'D' driving trailers
  • 112 'T' or 'BT' trailers ('BT' indicated second class)


From the late 1950s to 1970 the swing door trains were replaced by the Harris EMU trains. The last Swing Door trains in service were the parcel vans and the workshop shunters, that remained until the 1990s.[1]

Bogies from a number of scrapped Swing Door trains were reused under the Y class diesel locomotives built in the 1960s.

The only surviving operational Swing Door cars are 107M and 137M, which are used on occasional tours run by Elecrail, a division of Steamrail Victoria. A number of other cars are under restoration.


  1. ^ a b c d e Peter J. Vincent: M - Swing Door Suburban Motor Car
  2. ^ a b c S.E. Dornan and R.G. Henderson: (1979) The Electric Railways of Victoria'
  3. ^ Peter J. Vincent: M - CM - Suburban Parcels Coach

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