Victorian Railways bogie guards vans

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Bogie guards vans
Manufacturer Victorian Railways
Built at Newport Workshops, others
Operator(s) various heritage operators, previously VR and V/Line
Track gauge 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm)

As the Victorian Railways' fleet of Z vans began to age, the railways decided to invest in bogie designs for vans. Some van designs were included in a class of new passenger vehicles. Many other vans, for both freight and passenger work, were built separately from any other rolling stock developments, and these are the ones that feature here in detail.

C vans[edit]

It is important to note that there were 3 versions of Van to use the classification C, The 1888 version with the cupolas in the middle, the 1895 version which was an extended Z van with four goods doors each side instead of 2 and ran on 2 4 wheel bogies, they were the same length as a C Van, the Last Version is the 1960 C van later CA see below.

The first development in passenger guards vans, the DD class, totalling 44, was built between 1888 and 1893. They were 40 feet (12.19 m) long, and sat on two bogies. They featured a centred cupola, made possible due to the lack of passenger compartments. Around 1890 some of the vans were fitted with end vestibules, and in 1893 the class was fitted with toilets for the guard.

In the 1910 recoding the DD vans became the C vans. Not much information is available on the vans between 1910 and 1950, so it is assumed that they were generally unaltered.

In 1908 vans 17 and 24 were modified for mail sorting use, and recoded DDMS. Circulars (internal rail notices) from the era noted that the two vans were used on the Bendigo service, one van on the 0645 Bendigo and the 1515 Melbourne trains, and the other van for the 1215 Bendigo and the 1850 Melbourne services. In the 1910 recoding the vans became the CDS class, still retaining numbers 1 and 2. In 1922 it was decided that the vans were no longer needed in mail traffic, so they were converted back to what was by then the C vans. They became C47 and C48 respectively, because the 1910 recoding had used their old numbers - the class had been renumbered to fill the gaps.

However, the renumbering had allowed for van C43 to be numbered as such. This van was similar to others in the class but it has a very different history. More information can be found here.

By the mid-1950s the vehicles were worn out and in need of replacement, after up to 70 years of hard service. Instead of creating a whole new class, under frames and bodies were repaired or replaced as required, retaining the same numbers. When this happened the vestibule connections on applicable vans were eliminated and boarded over.

Some of these vans also possessed a 'ducket', which was a small box with windows on the side of the van, to allow the guard to look down the side of the train. 'Duckets' were not always applied to both sides or both ends of the train - their application seems rather random.

Preserved units[edit]

Five of the C vans have been preserved, though none are currently operational.

  • 18C is preserved by the Victorian Goldfields Railway.
  • 25C is preserved on private property at Wheat Sheaf
  • 28C is preserved by the Daylesford Spa Country Railway
  • 48C is preserved by Steamrail Victoria, under the care of DERMPAV in no.9 road at Newport Workshops, West Block.
  • 40C is preserved by the South Gippsland Tourist Railway. Restoration to start 2015-2016

Model Railways[edit]

Austrains has released two-packs of C vans by Austrains in HO scale, for $165 per pair.[1]

Prior to that, Blue and Gold models released a resin kit for the C Van.

CA, VVAP vans[edit]

In 1960, because of the experiences encountered during rebuilding of the C vans, a new set of 15 C vans was built, numbered one to fifteen. These vans were intended for freight service. The remaining old C vans in that number range were renumbered to make room, but stayed as C vans.

The new C vans differed in that they were fitted with periscopes rather than cupolas, and that they were constructed from steel instead of wood.

By 1961 the class had been relettered to CA.

In the 1979 renumbering, the class was altered to become the VVAP's. However they did not last long, as the class was not relettered until 1983-1986, and by this time guards vans were being eliminated on freight trains.

CE vans[edit]

Main article: CE Guards Vans

The class started as the DVE's of 1906, numbers 1 to 16. In 1910 they became the CE's, and construction continued up to 32CE in 1923. In 1924 CE 33-37 were built with elliptical roofs instead of clerestory.

CO vans[edit]

In 1970 two Joint Stock guards vans were built for the Melbourne - Adelaide The Overland service. They were coded CO, and remained in use until 1994, when they were transferred to Australian National. Both vans were written off of the shared V/Line and Australian National rollingstock register in 1995.[2]

2CO was sold to West Coast Railway in 1998 and transferred to Melbourne in early December of that year. However, there is no evidence that it was ever restored or utilised by that group. In 2004, when West Coast Railway shut down, the carriage was sold to Steve Moritz's Australian Loco & Railway Carriage Company for the Murraylander service, but quickly passed on to the Geelong-based group Rail Experience.[3]

The current whereabouts of 1CO and 2CO are unknown.

Model Railways[edit]

The vans have been modelled in brass HO scale, released by Trainbuilder as part of their Overland sets.

CP, VVCP vans[edit]

From 1956 to 1958, 40 guards vans of the CP design were constructed by A.E. Goodwin (NSW), and painted in a Passenger Red livery. They were intended to run on passenger trains and some fast goods trains, and had a freight capacity of 10 tons. The vans were of all-steel construction and welded to an underframe, which rested on two 4-wheeled bogies fitted with roller bearings. The vans had many amenities, including a stainless steel wash basin, toilet, mirror and stove. The walls and ceilings were lined with wool and the interior lining was of painted plywood, while the floor was instulated with a rubber layer. All windows were of armour-plate safety glass. Earlier vans had three windows per sliding door, while later vans had one per sliding door. All vans were fitted with axle-mounted generators for electric lighting.[4]

To eliminate the ZJF vans from service between Melbourne and Adelaide, nine of the 40 vans were recoded to JCP in the late 1960s, the 'J' representing "Joint Stock". They were not needed from the mid-1980s and so were then relettered back to CP with their old numbers.

Over time some members of the class were repainted into Wagon Red, representing their move from passenger to freight service.

Between 1983 and 1986 the entire class was recoded to VVCP. However in 1987 vans VVCP 34, 16, 25 and 6 were reclassed to CP 291-294 respectively and painted into the then-current V/Line orange livery. The first three had corridor connections added at both ends, though CP294 only had the connection installed at one end. These connections were based on the design used for the N sets. All four vans were later transferred to West Coast Railway. The CP vans were rated at 10 tonnes luggage capacity.

In 1995, CP293 was damaged and rendered unserviceable in a derailment at Werribee. From that date it was stored at Ballarat East workshops and used as a source of spare parts. [1][2] In August 2004, when West Coast Railway shut down, the van was purchased by the Rotary Club of Casterton; placed near the former railway station, and its West Coast Railway colours were restored. By 2008 the van had moved to the nearby river flats, and shortly after that it progressed to a local scrap merchant.[3]

Around 1996-1998, vans CP292 and CP294 were converted to include head-end-power generators, and recoded to PCP. The maximum load was reduced from ten tonnes to six.

In 2000, van CP291 was sold to Steamrail Victoria. It was last used in that year when the Millenium Aurora special train visited Melbourne from Sydney.

With the demise of West Coast Railway in 2004, PCP292 became the property of Steamrail who repainted the van blue and gold with Steamrail Victoria lettering. PCP 294 was acquired by 707 Operations and repainted in the Vintage Rail Travel red and silver livery with 707 Operation logos. Both vans are used as observation vans on railfan tours. Other vans still extant include 4, 28 and 31 at Seymour; 33 at the Newport railway museum and 37 and 39 stored at Newport workshops.

Model Railways[edit]

Auscision Models has announced models of the CP vans in two-packs retailing at $250.00, to be released in the near future (as of late 2014).[5]

Six variants are to be released:

  • CP 1+15 in VR Passenger Red, three-window doors, narrow roof seam, regular toilet window
  • CP 7+40 and VVCP 3+17 in VR Passenger Red, single-window doors, narrow roof seam, regular toilet window
  • CP 13+35 and VVCP 20+29 in VR Passenger Red & CP 18+33 in VR Wagon Red with V/Line logos, single-window doors, wide roof seam, regular toilet window
  • JCP 7+9 and CP 2+12 in VR Passenger Red with Joint Stock lettering, three-window doors, narrow roof seam, grommet toilet window
  • JCP 4+5 in VR Passenger Red with Joint Stock lettering, single-window doors, narrow roof seam, grommet toilet window
  • CP 291+293 in V/Line Orange & CP 292+293 in West Coast Railway, single-window doors, wide roof seam, regular toilet window, dog-box plated over and diaphragms fitted to both ends

CV vans[edit]

Main article: CV Guards Vans

In 1898, vans 1 and 2 of the DV class were built, and these were unique in featuring duckets and a clean roofline rather than a raised guard's section at each end. In 1906 the class was expanded to 7, and in the 1910 recoding the class became 1CV through 7CV.

CW vans[edit]

Main article: CW Guards Vans

CW 1-15 were built in 1913-14 with clerestory roofs. In 1935 vans 16-20 were built with elliptical roofs.

MHN vans[edit]

When the standard gauge was completed from Sydney to Melbourne, three Joint Stock guards vans were provided for the Southern Aurora service. The vans were numbered MHN 2364 to 2366, paid for by both Victoria and New South Wales, and were built by Commonwealth Engineering in NSW.

Between 1981 and 1984 MHN2366 was temporarily renumbered to 2866. In 1991 it was relettered to AHO. By this time all three vans were running in primarily NSW service.

ZF, ZJF, ZJP, ZLP, VVBP vans[edit]

As trains became faster in the early 1960s it was realised that new freight vans were necessary, in order to prevent the restrictions imposed by fixed-wheel vans on the end of a long bogie train. To this end, ZF1 to ZF45 were constructed.

In 1962 it was agreed by the Victorian Railways and the South Australian Railways to allow through-running of freight trains, and so seven members of the ZJF class were constructed. They had the same design as the ZF vans.

In 1963/64 the vans were given upgraded bogies and relettered to ZJP, indicating their suitability for passenger trains. In 1965 the vans were merged with the ZLP class of vans, and ZJP's 1 to 7 became ZLP 74, 80, 79, 77, 78, 75 and 76 respectively. They were replaced in Joint Stock service by the JCP freight vans.

Between 1963 and 1967 the vans received passenger-quality bogies and were reclassed to ZLP, but the original numbers were retained. They were now capable of 70 mph working. Around the same time, another batch was constructed new. This consisted of ZLP's 46-73, none of which were ever lettered as ZF's.

The vans were used in both passenger and freight work within Victoria. By this point they had been joined by the ex-joint stock ZJF vans, to hold the number group of 1-80.

In 1968 ZLP32 was fitted with a generator to supply electricity to the Showmobile Train, which was an assortment of V-series passenger cars gutted and fitted with billboards.

When four-letter coding was introduced, the ZLP's became the VVBP's. It was at about this time that van scrappings had commenced, and so not all of the ZLP's made the coding jump.

Model railways[edit]

TrainOrama has released [6] packs of two, in various liveries. Again, these are in HO Scale. The numbers are; ZLP's 4, 6, 7, 8, 14, 35, 42, 59, 68, 73 and VVBP's 2, 3, 5, 7, 19, 25, 47 & 51. Within these numbers are options for either single or double windows in each door.

ZF, VVDY, VZDY vans[edit]

As the Z fixed wheel vans were long overdue for retirement by the early 1970s, the railways decided to build a batch of ZF vans, numbered 1-50. These were different from the 1960s batch of ZF vans (which were by now the ZLP's), in that the design of the body had different window arrangements, different periscopes and different door locations.

The vans were intended for freight use only, hence the "F" but no "P" in the code.

Throughout the 1970s the vans underwent various changes. Early in the decade they gained vents in the guards compartment at floor level, and later in the decade some vans were modified to include crew compartments for travelling between depots. These wagons are recognisable by the extra, small sliding door at the crew end.

V/Line VZDY's[edit]

In the 1983 van recoding, they were recoded to VVDY. At this time the Teacup livery was coming into use, and so an odd situation occurred - ZF 17 was one of the only items of rolling stock to be photographed with the "old" code, but the new logo.

As vans were eliminated from trains most of the ZF/VVDY class were scrapped or sold. Some of the remainder were used for maintenance trains and recoded VZDY, these being vans 9, 11, 14, 24, 27, 33, 40 and 46 whigh have retained their numbers. VZDY 40 was sold to the Bellarine Peninsula Railway and now runs on the 3'6" gauge.

MET VZDY's[edit]

The MET also ran a VZDY class, numbers 51 - 54. These vans were painted in the MET green with yellow stripe livery. It is known that VZDY54 was converted from ZF13, but the other three remain mysteries.

The vans were used with matching ballast wagons in semi-permanent consists, and used for reballasting the metropolitan network.

West Coast Railway VZDY[edit]

West Coast Railway purchased VZDY27 and painted it in their colours of light blue with white and yellow.

The van was seen at North Geelong in 1996 [4] then Ballarat East in 1997 [5] through 1998 [6]. It is currently owned by Victrack and used for transfers of Xtrapolis 100 trains from Newport to Ballarat workshops.

ZMF, VVEY vans[edit]

In 1980 an entirely new design of guards vans entered service. ZMF1 entered service in December, and when it did it caused mixed reactions.

The "van" was actually a short bogie flat wagon, fitted centrally with a plastic cabin and verandah over the handbrakes. The other end held the gas and electrical fittings.

This design was used because of the plans, then shrouded in mystery, to eliminate guards from freight trains. When this eventuated it would be possible to remove the guard fittings and use the flat wagon in freight consists for containers.

Peter J. Vincent's site says, [quote]From the design, most operational staff could readily conjure up images of guards seated in the verandah section with sizzling barbecue, amply supported by a full icebox of 'tinnies' and waving cheerily to passers by.[/quote]

ZMF's 2 through 10 entered service in 1982, only to be recoded to VVEY in 1983. The vans were among the first casualties of the program to scrap guards vans, but only two under frames were reused. These became the QD wagons no.3 and 4, and were used for transporting cranes that did not have railway wheels. The QD's were also later used on sleeper trains, with the sleepers hydraulically transported from the QD to the appropriate machinery.

Passenger cars with guards accommodation[edit]

The suburban electric multiple unit fleet was provided with guards accommodation from the introduction of the Swing Door and Tait trains in 1919, both having a two-man crew with a motorman (driver) and guard.[7] Communication bells between driver and guard were not provided until the Harris trains of 1956, eliminating the use of green flags to indicated 'right of way' for departure from stations.[8] The later Harris trains were also the first to introduce guard controlled power operated doors to Victorian passenger trains, this being continued on the Hitachi trains of 1972.[9]

Early steam locomotive hauled passenger trains often had a van compartment replacing one of the passenger compartments in one of the carriages; vans so-fitted included the XYZ, XZ and YZ classes, later ABD, AD and BD respectively. The late 1880s onwards saw some bogie carriages fitted out with a similar style of guard's accommodation, in the ADAD, ABDABD and BDBD of 1887, 1891 and 1900 respectively. The bogie cars were reclassed AC, ABC and BC in 1910.

Narrow gauge trains often ran with NBDBD vans, the first built in 1899. These were recoded to a much simpler NBC in 1910, when the letter C replaced D in indicating a guards' compartment in bogie carriages (D was replaced with Z for fixed-wheel stock).

From 1910 over a hundred ACP carriages were built, intended for later conversion to electric traction. The "P" suffix to the code indicated the central corridor running the length of the eight passenger compartments, though this did not connect with the guards' area at one end.

From around the late 30's, the wooden BCE and BCPL cars were often used as guard vans. By the 1980s the new build N type carriage sets included an ACN carriage with guards accommodation, as did the rebuilt H and Z sets' BCH and ACZ/BCZ cars.

Mail vans[edit]

Fixed wheel stock[edit]

  • E 1-22
  • DMS 1-5 --> ZDS

Pre-vestibule bogie stock[edit]

  • BEBE 1 & 2 --> BE --> BDS --> WW
  • DD --> DDMS 1 & 2 --> CDS --> C 47 & 48
  • O 17 --> EES 3 --> DS 3 --> WW 4

E type carriages[edit]

  • ESBV 1-10 --> BDSE --> BCE 1-5, BE 44-48
  • EEB 1, 2 --> D (E type)
  • EES 1, 2 --> DS --> D 3, 4(E type)
  • D (replacement for D1)

S type carriage[edit]

  • DS 1 --> CS 2 --> VHN (S type)

From the late 1920s onwards passenger trains ran faster, and less running time meant that on-board sorting of mail was no longer practical. As a result the onboard mail sorting carriages were removed and converted to other uses, with mail instead being carried in standard bogie boxvans or louvre vans.


The 1980s saw a corporatisation and modernisation of the Victorian Railways, which was rebranded as VicRail, and then as V/Line. Working practices were altered, with freight trains having their guards vans and guards abolished from 1985.[10]

Under the New Deal for passenger services guards were relocated from separate vans into compartments inside the new N, Z and H type carriage sets themselves.[11] The guards themselves were removed from passenger trains in 1989, and replaced by conductors.[10]

Driver only suburban trains commenced running in 1993, with the last suburban train crewed by a guard running in November 1995.[10] The Siemens and X'Trapolis 100 trains delivered since this time have no provision for guards.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "CP guards vans". Mark Bau. Retrieved 2009-07-28. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ ZLP/VVBP
  7. ^ S.E. Dornan and R.G. Henderson (1979). Electric Railways of Victoria. Australian Electric Traction Society. p. 20. ISBN 0-909459-06-1. 
  8. ^ S.E. Dornan and R.G. Henderson (1979). Electric Railways of Victoria. Australian Electric Traction Society. p. 37. ISBN 0-909459-06-1. 
  9. ^ S.E. Dornan and R.G. Henderson (1979). Electric Railways of Victoria. Australian Electric Traction Society. p. 46. ISBN 0-909459-06-1. 
  10. ^ a b c "VR timeline". Mark Bau. Retrieved 2008-02-05. 
  11. ^ Scott Martin and Chris Banger (October 2006). "'New Deal' for County Passengers - 25 years on". Newsrail (Australian Railway Historical Society (Victorian Division)): page 319. 

Further reading[edit]