Victorian Railways sleeping cars
This article is intended as a catalogue of sleeping carriages used by the Victorian Railways and successors.
Ten E-type sleeping cars were built at Newport Workshops for the Adelaide - Melbourne service. The first four cars had been built by 1908, and were originally named Melbourne, Ballarat, Wolseley and Adelaide. In 1910, these cars were renamed Loddon, Glenelg, Finniss and Torrens respectively, after rivers between the two capital cities. In 1911 Onkaparinga and Barwon were built, to be followed by Baderloo, Dargo, Pekina and Tambo in 1919. In 1923, four more cars were named Angas, Coliban, Acheron and Inman., and a further two cars, Buchan and Wando, were constructed to a modified internal design with the smoking/saloon area replaced with a tenth sleeping compartment. This tenth compartment was slightly longer than the rest.
The last three cars, Werribee, Indi and Ovens, were released to service in 1928. While technically E-type carriages, at first external glance they'd be difficult to pick as such. These cars were painted in standard VR red, but the roofs were of the then-new curved style, as had recently been used on the W cars. Additionally, the sides were plated over with steel sheeting. Internally the design was identical to the previous pair of Buchan and Wando, with the tenth sleeping compartment.
Each car was 75 feet (22.86 m) long, with a steel underframe mounted on the normal 12 wheeled bogies. They consisted of nine sleeping compartments, each containing two sleeping berths in a bunk arrangement, with a private wash basin and cupboards. An additional saloon at one end of the car, usually reserved for smoking and known as the Gentleman's Lounge, could have another two berths folded out from the walls if needed. This area usually held a three-person sea in addition to four loose, leather chairs; these chairs were replaced with two chairs of a different design by the 1950s. This end of the car was identifiable externally by its single, long window. Under normal circumstances higher fares (on top of first-class fares) were charged for sleeping compartments, but the Saloon section was charged at normal rates. Two compartments at the opposite end of the coach to the smoking saloon were reserved for ladies and swing doors in the 51-foot-2-inch (15.60 m) long corridor separated these compartments from the rest of the non-smoking cabins, with another door between those and the smoking saloon. Access to the cabins was by sliding doors. There was an Attendants room at both ends, one of which had tea making facilities and a lavatory.
Like the rest of the E cars, the Sleepers initially had a strong Edwardian style with features including carved paneling, pressed metal ceilings, frosted glass and lamp pendants all being ornately decorated.
External finish included a row of bevelled mirrors above each window with an engraved star burst pattern, although this was removed in later years due to corrosion issues. There were 3 above each normal window and 7 above each saloon window. Each door had coloured leadlights in place of plain glass above the window panel.
The first run in service, of the initial batch of four sleeping cars, occurred on 17 October 1907 when cars Melbourne, Adelaide and Ballarat were included as part of a Parliamentary special tour of the Murray. They travelled from Melbourne to Echuca, departing Spencer Street at 5:30pm. Regular scheduling off the cars on the Melbourne Express occurred from 31 October 1907.
From 1936, they were externally painted dark green with "The Overland" in chrome plated letters on the fascia panel above the windows. From 1943 the green scheme was traded out for the standard Victorian Railways bright passenger red, and the carriage names were traded for "Sleeper No.X". Werribee, Indi and Ovens took positions 1, 2 and 3, followed by Buchan, Wando, Acheron, Coliban, Inman, Pekina and Loddon.
Cars Angas, Baderloo, Barwon, Dargo, Glenelg, Finnis, Onkaparinga, Tambo and Torrens were not renumbered per this scheme.
As built, these coaches, (gas lit and screw coupled), weighed 37 ton 7 cwt. and as with the other "E" series coaches the fitting of strengthened underframes, electric lighting and automatic couplings increased the weight of the 1911 built cars to 39 tons 11 cwt., while the later cars weighed in at 41 tons. Passenger capacity was 18 people in 9 compartments.
Five of the carriages were transferred to form the "Train of Knowledge" for Victorian Railways in 1965. Between November 1983 and May 1984, these carriages were upgraded. Restoration work included repainting, revarnishing, new upholstery, new carpeting, retention toilets and reinstatement of the original sleeping car names (Acheron, Coliban, Inman, Pekina and Loddon).
Today, Tambo is privately owned and has been half-converted to a Parlor car style, similar to that of Yarra and Murray. It currently runs on the Victorian Goldfields Railway, while Acheron, Inman and Pekina are under the care of the Seymour Rail Heritage Centre; Coliban and Loddon are both with Steamrail Victoria. Torrens is statically preserved at the ARHS museum in Newport and Finniss is with their South Australian equivalent, while Onkaparinga has recently been restored at the Port Dock Rail Museum. Angas is with the Yorke Peninsula Tourist Railway and Dargo is privately owned.
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When the Overland service was converted from E type carriages to a new steel batch, ten sleeping cars were built to supply this service. In 1949 the classleader, Allambi, entered service, followed by Tantini, Weroni, Dorai, Mururi and Chalaki in 1950 and Nomuldi and Mokai in 1951.
Additional carriages were built a few years later, with Nankuri and Purpawi in 1955, Tolkini (later Malkari) and Tandeni (later Paiti) in 1956, Yanni and Kuldalai in 1957 and Juki and Tarkinji in 1958. Finally, Tawarri and Yankai were built in 1967.
In the early 1970s the Victorian Railways purchased the South Australian Railways' share in the first four sleepers, which became Sleepers 11, 12, 13 and 14 in order of construction. To replace these cars, four new sleepers were built, taking the same names as their predecessors; the second Weroni and Dorai were released to service in 1971, followed by the second Allambi and Tantini in 1972.
The New Deal in 1983 saw the four steel Sleeper carriages renumbered to SJ 281 through 284; around the same time the Joint Stock sleepers lost their names and were renumbered to match a separate computing system. Under this new scheme, the sleepers were split into four groups; JRA and JRB for first and second class roomette carriages, and JTA and JTB for first and second class twinette carriages.
[*]JRA cars 1 through 6 were Mururi, Chalaki, Nankuri, Purpawi, Juki and Tarkinji. [*]JRB cars 1 and 2 were Allambi 2nd and Tantini 2nd. [*]JTA cars 1 through 6 were Nomuldi, Mokai, Malkari, Paiti (since renamed to Sir Hans Heysen), Yanni (since renamed to Sir John Forrest) and Kuldalai [*]JTB cars 1 through 4 were Tawarri, Yankai, Weroni 2nd and Dorai 2nd.
- VAC 1 / Sleeper No.15 / SS 285 to BS 218
- VAC 2 / Sleeper No.16 / SS 286 to BS 219
VAM 1 / SZ 287