S type carriage

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S type carriage
Restored victorian railways train.jpg
A train of restored S type carriages in the original Victorian Railways livery
Interior of a BS car compartment
Manufacturer Victorian Railways
Built at Newport Workshops
Constructed 1937-1956
Entered service 1937–2010, 1990’s-current in heritage service
Number in service 5
Operator(s) Various heritage operators
Car length 75 feet (22.86 m)
for AS, BS, Dining, Parlor, Buffet;
60 feet (18.29 m)
for CS, DS.
Doors Manual swing, 2 per side for AS, BS.
Articulated sections Rubber corridor connectors
Maximum speed 115 km/h (71 mph)
Power supply Head end power, previously axle driven generator
Track gauge 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm),
has operated on 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge

The S type carriages are a compartment layout passenger carriage used on the railways of Victoria, Australia. The carriages were constructed by the Victorian Railways in 1937 for use on the Spirit of Progress, with additional carriages built until the 1950s for other trains.

Introduced by Victorian Railways Chief Commissioner Harold Clapp for the Spirit of Progress service between Melbourne and Albury, the carriages lasted through many decades of regular service across a number of operators. Most of the fleet are still in service today, though none are in regular passenger service.

Two major types of carriage were constructed - AS first class cars with 3+3 seating in each compartment, BS second class cars with 4+4 seating. A number of conversions were made in later years, with the addition of beds to some to produce the sleeping cars and buffet modules to others to provide on board catering facilities. The BRS cars were the most recent conversion made as part of the 'New Deal' reforms of the early 1980s.

The cars saw little use by the early 1990s with the introduction of the Sprinter railcars, and a number were sold to West Coast Railway. After the demise of WCR their cars passed to preservation groups such as the Seymour Railway Heritage Centre, Steamrail Victoria, and 707 Operations.

Five BS cars that were owned by V/Line were retired in July 2006,[1] almost 69 years after their introduction. However owing to a boom in patronage (and the Kerang rail accident) they were re-introduced to service to replace set N7 as a dedicated train set on the Geelong line from late September 2007.[2] This set was withdrawn from service on 9 August 2010, running the 7:47am service from South Geelong to Southern Cross.

Development and design[edit]

When the Spirit of Progress concept was being developed as a replacement for the Sydney Limited, it was made known that Harold Clapp wanted the train to be a rival to the greatest trains in the world - modern, smooth, streamlined and with an air of efficiency. To achieve this, it was decided that a new all-steel train would be constructed from scratch, using the most recent developments in rollingstock design and the most exquisite creature comforts.

The Victorian Railways Chairman of Commissioners, Harold Clapp, had visited the United States in 1934-35, to learn about the latest developments in the field. Included were visits to the American Car and Foundry, Missouri, as well as a sampling of the services provided by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's trains, the Royal Blue and Abraham Lincoln. Both of these trains were of metal construction, the former with CorTen steel (developed by the United States Steel Corporation) and the latter with aluminium. Both trains were hauled by steam locomotives at the time of the visit, and both were of much smaller dimensions than those normally provided on American trains.

Based on the findings of his visit, Clapp insisted that the new train would have the best possible insulation, both sound and vibrations from track; air-conditioning, and yet to be of similar weight and capacity of the then-standard E carriage fleet. Indeed, advertising at the time declared that the materials selected "reduced train noises to an almost imperceptible minimum".

After testing, the design of the Royal Blue, with riveted CorTen steel, was selected as the basis for the new carriages and train. With the new design, it was found that a Spirit of Progress carriage of identical capacity was 6 12 long tons (6.6 t; 7.3 short tons) lighter than an air-conditioned E type carriage. However, the new carriages retained the compartment layout already in use in the AE and BE carriages.

Twelve carriages were ordered for construction at Newport Workshops; five first-class carriages, numbered 1-5; four second-class carriages, 6-9; the guard's van, the dining car and the parlor car. The latter was always spelled in the American way, without the "u". Each carriage bar the guards van was 71 ft 6 in (21.79 m) long over body with a further 1 ft 9 in (533 mm) at either end being occupied by the interconnecting diaphragm, for a total length of 75 feet (22.86 m). These diaphragms could compress by up to two inches (51 mm) each. The guards' van was 60 ft (18.29 m) over diaphragms, 58 ft 8 in (17.88 m) when coupled at both ends.

Each passenger carriage featured eight compartments, with the only differences being the number of seats per compartment - six, wider seats for first class, or eight, slightly narrower seats, for second class. Each seat had its own reading lamp and at least one folding armrest, which could be raised to be flush with the rest of the seat if preferred. Soft, diffused lighting was provided, hidden inside the walls and aimed at the ceiling to avoid blinding the passengers. Each compartment was fitted with a large, double-pane, single window, claimed at the time to be "unshatterable". At the time these windows were the first the railways had used, which could not be opened; instead they were sealed to ensure the efficiency of the air conditioning system. This glass was also used in all doors, whether for the compartment or along the hallway, separating various portions.

Three of the eight compartments, at the No.1 end of the carriage, were designated for smoking passengers - although all compartments were fitted with ashtrays.

All on board systems were powered by axle-mounted generators, with a large under slung battery available for use when the train was not moving. Additionally, carriages could be connected individually to an external power supply, if something suitable was available and the train was to be stationary for a long time.

Extensive testing was carried out to ensure maximum comfort with the type of seat selected. The final seat design was sprung, and padded with horsehair manually inserted to give the right contour. Then the seats were upholstered with leather, designed, cut and fitted to each seat before installation in the carriage. When installed, seats were a little over 2 ft 6 in (0.76 m) deep. Each passenger compartment also included roller blinds over the windows, and an individual radiator fitted to the outer wall and protected with a steel grille. On the opposite side, each compartment door was fitted with a handcrafted louvre for air flow purposes.

Rubber linoleum was used as the floor covering, directly over the steel carriage underframe. This covered the entire floor surface, and met a rubber curbing along the sides of the hallways, placed over the wall coverings to protect from foot marks. Otherwise, the walls were sheeted with a veneer of selected Australian timbers; different timbers were used in the first and second class carriages, to match the colours of the seats. Toilets in each carriage had Terrazzo flooring applied, finely ground, then polished.

A different type of chair was custom-designed for use in the Parlor and Dining cars, each one handcrafted "with due regard to comfort and durability". The dining car was also fitted with an onboard kitchen section, again designed and built to the highest standards possible at the time. The stove, for example, was insulated with rock-wool, noted for high levels of insulation resulting in an appreciable level of fuel economy. Venetian blinds were used exclusively in the rounded end of the Parlor car.

The guards van was designed somewhat differently from previous types, which had had a guards' compartment at either end of the carriage with a cupola, and a mail/baggage section in the middle of the van. The steel CE Van instead had, from the "front" end, a single luggage compartment, then a single guards compartment, then two further luggage compartments. Both ends of the van were fitted with walk-through, full-width diaphragms. The central guards compartment was fitted with periscopes aimed in each direction, allowing the guard to observe signals and perform other duties as required. The three luggage sections could between them take around 20 long tons (20 t; 22 short tons) of luggage. Van-side doors were each fitted with three windows initially, and the door sliding mechanisms were designed to allow the doors to run flush with the shell of the carriage when closed. Additionally, a dog-box was provided in each corner of the van, accessible only from the outside.

After completion the carriages were spray-painted with two coats of Dulux Royal Blue, product number 041. Over this, two parallel lines of gold leaf were manually applied; a two-inch-thick (51 mm) line above the window line, and a three-inch-thick (76 mm) line below the window line. These stripes extended the full length of the train, from the streamlined sides of the S Class locomotives, along the tender sides, across all of the diaphragms and carriage sides, then around the rounded end of the Parlor car and back around to the other side of the locomotive. The majority of this gold leaf had to be applied over rivets, making for a difficult application process. The same gold leaf was also used for the class lettering visible to passengers, such as "First", "Second", "Dining Car" and "Parlor Car".

To give the proper feel of a streamlined train, the S class locomotives would be fitted with a steel sheeting matching the train; diaphragms on the ends of the locomotive tenders and all the passenger carriages were full-width instead of inset, and painted to match the rest of the train, and van doors were designed to run flush to the sides of the carriages. All this was done both to reduce air resistance at the train's maximum official speed of 115 km/h (71 mph), and to give the impression of one long, solid unit. However, the wider design of diaphragm meant that any locomotive with full buffers could not be coupled to, or used to shunt, these carriages, as the buffers would pierce or otherwise damage the vestibule fittings. As a result, a number of D4 locomotives were fitted with half-buffers to avoid this problem.

Original Spirit of Progress fleet, riveted sides[edit]

Late 1937 saw all of the original order of twelve carriages delivered, bar one of the first-class sitting cars, No.4. The other eight sitting cars entered service on 14 November 1937; the Dining and Parlor cars on the 17th, and the steel CE van on the 18th.

This gave the maximum-length 11-car train for the debut of the Spirit of Progress at 6:30pm, 23 November 1937. Before this date the train ran a number of demonstration runs to Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo on the 18th, 19th and 22nd respectively, being displayed at those locations from lunchtime to around 9pm before running back to Melbourne. The train was also displayed at Platform 7 at Spencer Street, from 9am to 9pm on Saturday 20 November. The first run, hauled by locomotive S302 "Edward Henty", included from the Albury end, the steel CE van, cars 6-9, the Dining Car, cars 1-3 and 5, and the Parlor Car. (The order of passenger cars either side of the dining car is not known.)

As at the time the code for the new carriages had not yet been decided, the passenger cars were released to service unclassed and simply numbered 1 through 9 without a class. Some official correspondence refers to the carriages as "Steel E type carriage" – for example, "Steel AE 1" when referring to the first of the passenger cars. The Dining and Parlor cars apparently began life with those identities, and the guards van was known as the Steel CE Van.

April 1938 saw a further two steel cars delivered; the missing first class carriage, Number 4, on the 4th, and a new addition to the fleet, Steel Bulk Mail, on the 5th. The former was identical to cars 1-3 and 5, but it is not known why this car was delayed in entering service. The latter was similar to the Steel CE van but without the guards compartment, and the end diaphragms, while present, were blanked off and as such could not be used for walking through. As a result, the van compartments were of varying lengths and the doors were not evenly spaced. A result of this was the ability to take a further five tons of goods.

With the completion of the Steel Bulk Mail van, one second-class carriage was deleted from the standard Spirit of Progress consist, to give eleven cars with four first-class and three second-class. This left one of each class spare, for a rotating maintenance schedule. If one of the other cars was unavailable, Murray could be replaced with the E-type carriage Avoca; Steel Bulk Mail could be replaced with 1D, a 1929-build steel replacement for a destroyed E-type mail van, and the Steel CE could be replaced with a normal, timber CE. There was no replacement for the Parlor car; if this was faulty it would have to be removed from the train.

New dining cars, construction method experimentation[edit]

Shortly after Clapp's visit to America, the rollingstock branch used the new lessons to produce a design for an altered E type carriage with an internal buffet. The new car, Buffet Car No.1 and later named Taggerty, was introduced to the Bendigo line on 5 April 1937, then used daily except Sundays.

From the experience gained with Taggerty, four all-steel S type buffet cars were constructed, using a similar body shell to that of the previous builds. Two buffet cars were constructed initially, Number 2, released to service on 19 December 1938, and Number 3, released to service on 14 Feb 1939. Both these cars were fitted with a kitchen area and a full-length buffet, with no regular passenger seating or compartments. A few months later, cars 4 (date unknown) and 5 (1 June 1939) were released to service. All cars were later named; respectively, Wimmera, Mitta Mitta, Tanjil and Moorabool. All four cars, when built, were painted in a deep red intended as a rough approximation of the red scheme then in use on the timber passenger fleet; this red extended over the roof. Additionally, a pair of silver stripes, 2 in (51 mm) above the window line and 3 in (76 mm) below the window line, were added. The silver colour was also used when applying the Art Deco style carriage names and Buffet Car lettering; the former about halfway between the 3-inch line and the underframe of the car, and the latter immediately above the 2-inch line. All lettering was located centrally on the car. Window frames were painted silver. Wimmera and Mitta Mitta had full-length buffets with 27 seats, while Tanjil and Moorabool had only 19 seats along a shorter buffet, plus two first-class compartments. The kitchen of each car included an Esse Fuel Stove, similar in design to that included in the Spirit of Progress's Dining Car. In all cases the kitchen area was located at one end of the car, rather than being placed centrally like in Taggerty.

Each carriage was under the charge of an all-female staff of a supervisor, three to five waitresses, a cook and an assistant. The buffet stocked cigarettes, tobacco and confectionery, in addition to light meals and refreshments. Unfortunately the service was claimed to be unprofitable.

Wimmera and Mitta Mitta weighed 51 long tons (52 t; 57 short tons) each, while Tanjil and Moorabool came in at just over 50 long tons (51 t; 56 short tons). Wimmera was fitted with indirect, central-trough lighting, while the other three were fitted with semi-recessed circular light units recessed into the ceiling.

Recycled names[edit]

Note that while Tanjil and Moorabool were new names, the other two were recycled from previous rollingstock. The name Mitta Mitta had previously been applied to a special-purpose car, built in 1910 using the bodies of two Ministerial vehicles dating back to 1880; the car was renamed Edinburgh in 1889, then Mitta Mitta in December 1910. In July 1924 the car was rebuilt as a Medical Test and Vision car, used with a traveling doctor to ensure that all Victorian Railways staff were healthy enough to safely work. The car was pulled from service and demolished in May 1939. In its place, E type carriage Wimmera was removed from passenger service, refitted and renamed as the new Medical Test and Vision car from October 1938. This vehicle may have been selected once Taggerty was deemed an appropriate replacement. So the selection of names "Wimmera" and "Mitta Mitta" could be deemed appropriate, given their association with each other.

Changes to design[edit]

Because the cars were intended to operate as part of a train set, rather than individually, there were no external passenger doors. A single side door was provided for accessing the staff and kitchen area. Other changes included a thin aluminium plate over the ends of the full-width diaphragms, to hide the open-end framework.

While Wimmera, Mitta Mitta and Moorabool used the same construction method as the first Spirit of Progress carriages, research by Peter Clark has indicated that Tanjil was constructed differently. This car was used as a test-bed for all-welded construction methods, which Clapp had seen on the Milwaukee Road, in 1934 during his trip to America. This gives Tanjil a smooth finish on the sides, rather than the riveted sides of all earlier carriages.

In service[edit]

At this time, the Spirit of Progress was still operating as a maximum 11-car train, leaving one first class and one second class carriage spare. Often, the Steel Bulk Mail van was not used account lack of necessity. Wimmera and Mitta Mitta were attached to The Overland in place of Goulburn, Campaspe, Avoca and Hopkins; Tanjil and Moorabool were rostered on daily (except Sunday) runs to Warrnambool and Horsham, but the cars had to be removed from service account wartime restrictions. The two were stored in Newport Workshops, along with planned E type carriage conversions 21AE and 26AE, which were planned to be converted to further buffet cars with a similar layout to Taggerty.

Introduction of the S carriage class[edit]

By mid 1939 it was becoming clear that referring to the new steel carriages as "Steel (timber class)" was becoming unworkable. As a result, the more sensible S type carriage group was created and on 30 August 1939 the cars were officially re-classed; cars 1 through 5 became 1AS through 5AS; cars 6 through 9 became 1BS through 4BS, and the Steel CE and Steel Bulk Mail vans became 1CS and 1DS respectively (note DS had previously been used by an E-Type mail sorting van). The Dining Car and Parlor Car retained those identities, while the four buffet cars were known alternately by their names or as Buffet Car No.X.

First all-welded passenger cars[edit]

Following the success of the construction of Tanjil, six further passenger cars were ordered from Newport Workshops. 1940 saw delivered three new AS carriages, 6, 7 and 8, and three new BS carriages, 5, 6 and 7. These six cars were painted in the same livery as the buffet cars; red with silver lines and text. As the cars were under construction at the outbreak of World War II, they could not be finished to the same high standard as the previous builds. The internal timber linings were disposed of, and instead the surfaces were painted a pastel grey shade, later changed to cream. This proved to be a much less durable covering in service.

Operations through World War 2[edit]

The six new red carriages were used on the Albury Express, replacing E type carriages which had been fitted with airconditioning. This train was effectively a second-division run of the Spirit of Progress, further proven by the locomotive roster for this train also being an S class locomotive. (Note that the locomotives were all painted in blue with gold leaf by 1938, and the two red locomotives were the first repainted to that scheme, in 1937. So there was never any plan to have red S Class locomotives on the front of an all-steel, red Albury Express.)

AE and BE airconditioned carriages removed from the Albury Express were then moved to other services, like the Bendigo midday.

1945 to 1952[edit]

New carriages, 9AS-16AS & State Car 5[edit]

As part of the war recovery, more S type carriages were built. Starting from 1948 further AS cars were constructed, with 9AS and 10AS released to service on 2 December 1948; 11AS on the 22nd and 12AS on 29 March 1949, and 13AS on 20 May that year. 14AS entered service a year later, on 9 May 1950, while 15AS and 16AS were added on 4 and 12 December 1952. All of these carriages were released to service in the same livery as the previous red cars, with silver lines. The only noticeable change is the picking-out of some large underframe equipment in silver.

However, the design of the carriages was not quite identical to 6 through 8AS, with some modifications from the original design not applied. For instance, the end diaphragm units did not have the flat aluminium ends applied, and the carriages were all fitted with varnished timber wall linings. A new change was the division of the toilet compartments at each end of the carriage into two smaller areas, thus separating the toilet from the sink. The carriage bodies were mostly welded, although when first built a line of rivets was visible along the bottom of the carriage body.

In 1951 State Car 5 was built, in preparation for an upcoming Royal Tour and as the previous State Car, Number 4, had been built in 1912 and was beginning to look dated. The new car was initially painted in the same dark red as the other cars but without any sort of lining, instead having the Royal Coat of Arms placed on the centre of the carriage sides. This was applied using transfers obtained from the Canadian Pacific Railway. By the 1954 Royal tour, the car had been painted into VR Blue and Gold with a new application of the royal insignia in the middle of each side. This insignia was covered by sheet-metal when not used by members of royalty or their representatives in Australia.

In service[edit]

From 1945 Wimmera and Mitta Mitta ran alternate journeys as part of the Albury Express. Tanjil was stored at the Spencer Street dining car depot as a spare vehicle, and Moorabool was rostered on the Gippslander from 1952. The new sitting carriages, when not being used on the Albury Express or taking over a spot on the Spirit of Progress, would have spread to other routes.

Repaints and changing schemes[edit]

Moorabool, and probably the other buffet cars, were repainted for the first time since their construction in 1950. No changes were made to the livery at this time, but the paint had faded quite drastically over the intervening decade. A second repaint occurred in 1953. However, by this time the railways had stopped using gold-leaf on the blue carriages, instead switching to yellow transfers for lining and lettering. These were applied to at least some of the red carriages in lieu of painted silver lines and the different base resulted in cream-coloured lines and lettering. 5BS and 6BS were repainted to blue with gold leaf to serve as spares for the Spirit of Progress, although it is not known when this occurred.

1953 to 1962 - New carriages 7BS - 14BS, The Overland and The Intercapital Daylight[edit]

The Overland (ABS)[edit]

In early 1953, the South Australian Railways withdrew their 750-class excursion carriages from The Overland, as these, while of steel construction, were not airconditioned. The carriages had provided 22 first and 24 second-class seats, and a replacement had to be found. The Victorian Railways found that they could spare two AS carriages, and so in autumn of that year cars 12AS and 13AS were converted to 1ABS and 2ABS respectively. Each car was unaltered at the first class end, but had second-class seats installed in the other half, for a total of 24 first- and 32 second-class passengers. Two compartments of each class, or half of the total seats, were reserved for smokers; and intermediate doors were installed in the hallway to separate these sections. Both carriages were painted with deep red and thick silver stripes to match the then-new Overland O and J type carriages, but the black roof was not applied to the S cars. Window frames were red on the vertical and silver on the horizontal, to match the silver stripes. Lettering was in a plain silver with no special fonts.

The new cars were used to provide the same roadside service as the 750-class carriages, which had previously been used for passengers wishing to travel only part of the length of The Overland; say to Stawell or Horsham. This was done to allow passengers from those towns to travel to their local cities and return in the same day; arrival at Melbourne would be at 9am, and departure at 8pm.

It is not clear whether 12AS and 13AS spent any time in VR Blue and Gold between the red/silver and Overland liveries, although this is unlikely.

Change from red/silver to blue/gold[edit]

1954 saw an official change of colour scheme following the Royal Tour, and it was decided that the red/silver carriages (other than the two Overland ABS vehicles) would be repainted to a standard blue and yellow scheme, perhaps to better match the blue diesels that were quickly arriving. The carriages previously fitted with gold leaf had this replaced with Dulux 16078 Yellow, which better matched the paint of the new diesels and was much cheaper to apply and touch-up. It was also decided to paint the airconditioned E type carriages and a number of CE vans in the blue and yellow livery.

Repainting was slow, and in the short term the railways chose to use transfers instead of liquid paint with stencils, to ensure accuracy when applying class designations and the 2" and 3" stripes along the sides of the carriages. Occasionally a yellow transfer would be placed on a red carriage where the silver stripes had previously been; this would result in a cream colour, both for lines and lettering. This scheme first appeared on the debut run of The Gippslander, hauled by a L Class on 21 July 1954.

Wimmera and Mitta Mitta were painted blue in 1956, and Moorabool followed in 1958. It is thought that the latter was the last car in the red and silver livery. It is not known when Tanjil changed colour schemes.

New-build BS vehicles[edit]

In 1955-56 a further eight BS vehicles were constructed, numbered 8BS through 14BS. The new cars were fitted with fluorescent lighting from new, as had been installed in State Car 5 in 1951. 8BS was released in April 1955, then cars were delivered on a production line with a new one appearing every two to three months until December 1956. All new cars were painted in blue and yellow from the outset, and were constructed in a similar fashion to the last of the AS fleet, with smooth sides other than the dual line of rivets down the bottom of the carriage. It is not known whether these carriages were fitted with full-width diaphragms from the beginning or at all, but this is unlikely.

The Intercapital Daylight (ABS & Lounge/Club Car)[edit]

In September 1956, car 9AS was similarly altered internally to become 3ABS. However, the car was not repainted into the Overland colour scheme. This car was occasionally used on the Overland service to replace one of the other two, but for the most part it was converted for the new The Daylight service running from Melbourne to Albury.

This new train, which had been introduced on 26 March 1956, initially ran only three days per week with each half running to Albury on one day, then running back to Melbourne/Sydney the next. From 24 September the trains ran daily except Sunday, and the Melbourne half ran non-stop. The train towards Sydney ran in the early morning and connected at Albury, then turned on the Wodonga triangle and stabled until time to meet the arrival from Sydney and run back to Melbourne.

This train also included the former Parlor Car, now renamed the Lounge Car, in its eight-carriage standard consist. In 1958 the car was renamed again, this time to the Club Car (not to be confused with the three Overland Club Cars built in 1970).

Notably, around this time the Z type carriages were introduced; these were of a similar design but with a saloon layout internally, with two rows of seats either side of a central hallway in lieu of compartments.

Standard Gauge Classes, 1962-on[edit]

To provide rollingstock for the service to Sydney after the 1962 standardisation project, a number of carriages were converted to standard gauge. Because the codes would have overlapped with existing New South Railways codes, the cars were reclassed; the new codes were an approximation of appropriate NSW carriage codes, but with a "V" prefix to indicate the Victorian Railways as the owner.

The cars converted in 1962 were:

  • 5BS and 6BS to VAC, as composite first class sitting/sleeping cars 2VAC and 1VAC respectively.
  • VFS cars 1-4 from BS 10, 11, 14, 9 respectively. No changes made aside from gauge and identity. In 1964 cars 3 and 4 were converted to 1 and 2VFR respectively, by removing two compartments and inserting a short buffet section.
  • 12BS and 13BS to 1VFX and 2VFX, a subtype of the VFS class with six of the eight compartments for passengers, and the final two compartments made staff-only, for use by the train hostesses and waitresses.
  • Mitta Mitta, Wimmera and Tanjil to 1VRS through 3VRS respectively; Moorabool was not converted. Tanjil modified to full-length buffet but with 28 seats instead of 27.
  • 1VHN and 2VHN ex 1CS and 2CS.
  • Additional carriages of the VBW and VFW classes were sourced from the W type carriage fleet, van 35CE as 1VHE, and VFK, VBK and VAM carriages from the Z type carriage fleet, for a total of 36 carriages.

The steel carriages had art-deco font "VR" logos added at the corners, as well as car-number holidng plates; however these were not applied in time for the inaugural run. The three VRS carriages had "Spirit of Progress" plates attached over the carriage names.

Broad Gauge in the 1960s & 1970s[edit]

After the Intercapital Daylight and Spirit of Progress had been moved to the standard gauge, the Victorian Railways' fleet of broad gauge steel carriages was cut quite drastically. This was not an immediate problem because the trains were transferred across with their stock, but some services to Albury were retained on the broad gauge. As a result, more carriages were needed.

Including the Z type fleet, there were at this point 21 first-class, 3 composite and 15 second-class steel carriages on the broad gauge, along with Moorabool which was continued to be rostered on The Gippslander. The Spirit Dining Car was renamed Murray in 1963, and the Club Car, previously Parlor/Lounge Car, was renamed Norman. Both these cars stayed on broad gauge, although Murray was occasionally moved over to standard gauge when more than one of the VRS cars was unavailable for service. It and Avoca became spare carriages, available for hire or special trains, or to replace Taggerty on the Bendigo line or Moorabool on the Gippsland line if necessary. The name Murray was recycled from another E type carriage, one of two former Parlor cars used from 1906 on the Melbourne/Sydney express.

The Parlor/Lounge/Club Car was renamed Norman in 1963, also taking its name from another carriage. The previous Norman was originally known as 'Perseverance' and entered service on 5 June 1890, as one of a pair of BL Sleeping cars, 75 ft in length with eight compartments and a buffet section. The car rode on two six-wheel bogies and was intended for use on the Portland line. In 1900 the car was converted to a special car for the use of the Railway Commissioner (at the time there was only one), and renamed "Inspection" with seating for 28 passengers. Internal rebuilding took place in 1921 and the name was changed to "Norman" after Mr C.E Norman, a former Victorian Railways Commissioner. In 1954 the car was fitted with a new underframe, reclaimed from State Car No.1. Oddly, State Car 1 is marked as scrapped in 1956, so one or the other date may be incorrect. This Norman car was removed from service in 1963, making way for the name to be transferred to the ex-Parlor car. From this date, Norman was used as the Railway Commissioner's personal vehicle, used whenever they had to travel on official business or on their yearly inspection tours. The old Norman entered the Australian Railway Historical Society Museum, Williamstown North, and was placed on a historic register on 13 July 1983.

Resulting BG fleet 1962:

  • AS 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16
  • ABS 1, 2, 3
  • BS 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8
  • Moorabool, Murray*, Norman
  • AZ 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
  • BZ 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7


  • 1963: 3ABS back to 9AS
  • 1965: MBS ‘Mini Buffet’ with 5 sitting compartments, ex 2BS, 3BS, 9AS
  • 1966: Art Deco font replaced with Sans Serif lettering per aircon E cars
  • 1970: "Second" deleted
  • 1972: ABS 1 was converted back to 12AS and 2ABS was modified and converted to 15BS, giving 15x CE-AS-BS blocks plus 4x CE-AE-BE airconditioned blocks. These formed all country trains, with non-aircon cars added as needed.
  • 1972: scrapping of 7AS after derailment/destruction.
  • 1975: "Economy" added - plain-style font broad gauge, Art Deco standard gauge, placed centrally on car instead of adjacent to each door.
  • 1977: MRS ‘Refreshment Car’ ex 4BS, 1BS.

In 1977 the standard gauge sleeper VAC cars were found stored at Newport Workshops, back on the broad gauge and converted to full twinnette internal layout. This, along with a recode to Sleeper 15 and Sleeper 16, made them suitable for running on the then-being-upgraded Vinelander service to Mildura.

1980s & New Deal[edit]

  • 1981: VicRail "Teacup" livery
  • 1982: AS 11, 2 --> BS 1, 2 (2nd)
  • 1983: BRS 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10 --> BRS 221 to 230, MBS 2 to BS 13. Sleeper 15, Sleeper 16 to SS285, SS286. Later to BS218, BS219 for service with V/Line Passenger. Moorabool pulled from The Gippslander for BRNs.
  • 1983: Silver stripes with V/Line logo
  • 1984: MRS 1 to BRS 226; BS 1, 2 (2nd) --> BS 201, 202
  • 1986: green/white stripes
  • 1988: Royal livery grey/white - Norman, Murray, State 5 with Royal Crest, ACZ252

Fixed carriage sets, mixed with Z cars.

Operation of fixed carriage sets was not introduced until the 1980s and the introduction of the N type carriages. Before this time S cars could appear on various intrastate trains with other Z type steel carriages, as well as older wooden bodied stock.

From the 1980s most of the S cars was placed into the Z type carriage sets, and from the mid-1990s were also added as additional cars in the N type sets. Today the 5 BS cars in V/Line service are placed in a single carriage set coded SZ7 (formerly SN7), along with a single BCZ carriage. The BS V/Line cars are in a Z coded set because the BCZ car is a classed as a Z.

  • 1993: Coaches sold to West Coast Railway initially BRS222 and BS203 in set FZ52, BRS224 and BS205 in set FZ55 and BRS221 and BS207 in set FZ57. Later sales included BS201, BS206, BS208, BS210, BS212, BRS223, BRS225 and BRS229.
  • 1995: Heritage scheme, VR Blue roof, VR Maroon body sides, white stripe referencing V/LINE era?

21st Century[edit]

Carriage BRS221, converted into a crew car for Pacific National.
  • SZ7

Current Status[edit]

By original S-type identity, with current identity in brackets.

With Mainline Operators[edit]

  • In service, Pacific National: 6AS (BRS 221), 12AS (BRS 223) 16AS (BRS 222), 4BS (BRS225) – Crew Cars
  • In service, Aurizon: 15AS (QBCY 10-W), 8BS (QBCY 8-R) – Crew Cars
  • Stored, V/Line Passenger, Newport East Block: 5BS (BS219), 6BS (BS218), 9BS (BS215), 12BS (BS216), 13BS (BS217)
  • Scrapped: 7AS, 1DS


  • In service, 707 Operations, Newport West Block: 13AS (BS212), 14AS (BS205), 7BS (Williamstown)
  • In service, Seymour Railway Heritage Centre: 3AS, 4AS (BS 204), 1BS (BRS 226), 3BS (BRS 227), 10BS (Mitta Mitta), 11BS (BS 214), 1CS, Buffet 4 (VRS 233), Dining Car, Parlor Car, State Car 5
  • Under restoration, Seymour Railway Heritage Centre: 10AS
  • In service, Steamrail Victoria, Newport West Block: 5AS, 8AS (BS 206), 9AS (BRS 9), 11AS, 2BS (BS 213), 14BS (BRS 14), Buffet 5 (Moorabool)
  • Stored, Steamrail Victoria, Newport West Block: 1AS (BS 209)
  • Privately Owned: 2AS (1BS), stored with Steamrail at Newport West Block, Buffet 2 (VRS 232), stored at Tailem Bend, SA.
  • Static display: Buffet 3 (VRS 231), Australian Railway Historical Society Museum, Williamstown North

Model railways[edit]

HO Scale[edit]


Original run[edit]

The first plastic ready-to-run carriages for the Victorian HO scale market were released by Powerline in 1993, as a run of the smooth-sided S type carriages. The range was fairly straightforward but of reasonable standard for the time, with no interiors and limited underframe detail. 1992 saw the release of an BS (Economy), AS, VAC and an uncoded carriage in VR Blue (product numbers P435-P437, P439); in 1993 the range was expanded upon with orange/silver units SS and AS/BS uncoded (P457, P459), and V/Line coaches 208BS, 210BS, 218BS (all as P455) and 222BRS (P456). Finally, in 1996, unnumbered AS and BS coaches were released in the red and silver scheme (P415A, P416A).[3] It is likely that the missing P438 was the composite First/Second class carriage [1] and the missing P458 may have been the first class 206AS or 210AS in V/Line orange.

Records are not immediately available, but it is known that some dining/buffet were also released with different window patterns, usually as part of a three-carriage set. One such set was P161, which included three red carriages - an AS, a BS and a buffet car.[4] Another set included an AS, a BS and the buffet car Wimmera, all three in blue and gold. The buffet car was a new body with rivets added, on the same underframe.[5]

In 1996 a two-pack of the blue Mitta Mitta and the orange VRS was released for Christmas.[6] [2]

Later runs included the VR Blue BS coach with "Second" on the carriage sides [3], West Coast Railway BS and BRS carriages and V/Line Passenger BS cars [4], and trios of the orange coaches were included in starter train sets. By the early 2000s these coaches were selling for around $45.00 each.[7]

2015 run[edit]

In 2015 Powerline announced a new range of S type carriages, based on the original moldings from the 1993 release but updated with better underframes and with kadee couplers.

The range will include 1962-era Blue and Gold carriages 6AS and 7AS for the broad gauge and 2VFS, plus 8BS, 9BS, 1VFS, 1VFX and 2VFX for the mid-1970s era when "Second" was replaced with "Economy".

Individual models will be released of 9BS and 10BRS, and a three-pack of 210BS, 3BS and 224BRS in the original 1981-1983 Teacup scheme, and in the later version with V/Line logos but retaining the silver stripe (1984-1986) will include models of 210AS, 10BRS and 212BS-214BS-226BRS as a three-pack. The 1986-1995 era will have 213BS, 223BRS and 210BS-211BS-229BRS in V/Line orange with white and green stripes, and 1993-12004 will include 205BS, 222BRS and 206BS-208BS-221BRS in West Coast Railways blue and white.

Lastly, 215BS, 216BS, and 217BS-218BS-219BS will be released in V/Line Passenger's regal red with white and blue scheme, providing the majority of carriages required to model set SN7.[8]


First run[edit]

The first run of models featured a full brass body preassembled and painted, with onboard lighting included. Two main sets were produced; the first was a five-carriage Spirit of Progress set dated for the 1950s, including one each of the CS, BS, Dining, AS and Parlor cars, for $2,750. Customers who purchased this set had the further option of buying pairs of carriages for an additional $1,100, including 10AS-9BS, 11AS-10BS or 12AS-11BS.

The second main set represented the standard gauge iteration of the Spirit of Progress, with a boxed set of ten carriages including a single VAC, VFX, VFR, VHN and two VFS carriages in addition to two Z-type carriages and two Aurora-type carriages, priced at $5,500.[9]

Second run[edit]

Expected to be delivered in mid-2015, Trainbuilder has announced a second run of the brass models, this time removing the internal lighting features in order to keep the price per carriage down to only $395 individually, or $1,975 for a five-car set.[10]

This second run will include the five-carriage Spirit of Progress representative set with one each of the AS, BS, CS, dining and parlor cars. Individual cars include 1-5AS, 1-4BS with both Second and Economy lettering, 1CS, 1-2MBS with both Second and Economy lettering, 1-5AZ and 1-5BZ, the Dining Car and the Parlor Car, all in Victorian Railways blue and gold.

In V/Line Orange, the range includes 202, 209, 211 and 213BS, 252-254ACZ, 251BCZ, 264-267BZ and 226-227BRS.


State Car 5, of S carriage design was used on Victorian Railways Royal Trains.
Interior of the Parlor Car in its present-day configuration.

External links[edit]