Z type carriage

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Z type carriage
Exterior of a ACZ type carriage
Interior of a first class ACZ carriage
In service 1957–2006 (As Z sets), now used with N sets to provide additional capacity.
Manufacturer Victorian Railways
Built at Newport Workshops
Constructed 1957–1966
Refurbishment 1995 to present, refurbished to BZN/BTN carriages.
Formation Additional cars for N sets
Operator(s) V/Line, various heritage operators
Doors Manual swing, 2 per side
Articulated sections Rubber corridor connectors
Maximum speed 115 km/h (71 mph)
Power supply Head end power
Track gauge 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm),
has operated on 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge

The Z type carriages are an air conditioned steel passenger carriage used on the railways of Victoria, Australia. The carriages were constructed by the Victorian Railways from 1957 for use on intrastate services.

Two major types of carriage were constructed - thirteen AZ first class cars with a closely spaced but small windows, and twelve BZ second class cars with wider spaced but larger windows (the thirteenth BZ entered service on standard gauge). Carriages were provided with a saloon layout, with 2+2 reversible seating provided, with each row lining up with the windows. First class was provided with more legroom than second. An internal partition existed between the two ends of the saloon, but was removed in later years. A single twinette sleeping car was also built in a Z type body shell, entering service in 1963; it had 20 berths.

A number of carriages were placed onto standard gauge bogies from 1962 for use on interstate trains such as the Spirit of Progress. With the end of these trains in the 1980s they were placed back onto the broad gauge. During this time a number of AZ type carriages were provided with conductor compartments and recoded to ACZ.

The cars were made redundant 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 some cars were acquired by V/Line, with the remainder passed to preservation groups such as R707 Operations.

The cars still with V/Line were refurbished from 1995, being provided with 2+3 seating in the N type carriage style, with some carriages also receiving wider doors and toilets with wheelchair access. Today only a handful of Z type carriages remain in unaltered form.

The remaining Z type carriages were temporarily removed from service in January 2013 due to cracking occurring in the bogies.[1]


  • AZ: First class sitter
    • ACZ: First class sitter with conductors area
    • BCZ: ACZ signed for economy class
  • BZ: Economy class sitter
    • BZS: BZ with internal partition remaining
  • SZ: sleeping car


  • BTN: Economy class
  • BZN: Economy class with disabled access and toilet

Standard gauge:

  • VBK: First class sitter (1-5 converted from AZ 8-13)
  • VFK: Second class sitter (1-4 converted from BZ 8-12, 13 built new)
  • VAM: Composite sleeper and sitter (built new, only 1 of)

Carriage rosters[edit]

Individual cars[edit]

Initially, AZ and BZ cars were allocated to long-distance passenger trains in Victoria. Cars would be attached to the Vinelander for Mildura, The Gippslander to Bairnsdale, the Great Northern to Swan Hill and also to Albury. If additional cars were available after that, they would be allocated to Horsham and/or Dimboola runs, which may have displaced an S type carriage or E type carriage for the runs to Warrnambool and Yarram.

When the standard gauge line to Albury was opened for passenger traffic, the Victorian Railways planned to convert five each of the AZ and BZ class carriages to standard gauge, to provide extra sitting capacity. This was in conjunction with a handful of S type carriages. The five AZ carriages, 9AZ to 13AZ, were converted in the last quarter of 1961, recoded and stored until required for the opening of the new line. They were followed by conversions of BZ cars 9-12, which were similarly stored. At this time the thirteenth BZ-type shell was still under construction and it caught fire on the production line, so 8BZ was quickly modified and was made available for standard gauge service in February 1962. The ten cars were allocated standard gauge codes of VBK 4, 2, 3, 1, 5 and VFK 2, 3, 4, 1 and 6. When 13BZ was completed it was immediately placed on standard gauge as VFK5.

The codes followed NSW carriage code convention, with V indicating Victorian stock, B and F indicating first and second class respectively, and K being a spare third letter to indicate the type.

VAM1, a Z-type sleeping and sitting car, entered service on the standard gauge in 1963. This car attached to the rear of the Spirit of Progress and was detached at Goulburn, then taken by a separate train to Canberra.

Cars 3AZ and 3BZ were fitted with extra equipment allowing a fast conversion to standard gauge if additional seating capacity was required on the Sydney run, and the extra capacity could be freed from the broad gauge system.

Carriage sets[edit]

Operation of fixed carriage sets was not introduced until 1981, with the New Deal reforms of passenger rail operations and the introduction of the N type carriages. Most of the Z cars was placed into sets made up of an ACZ carriage, BRS snack car carriage, and between one and three other BS and BZ carriages.

In 1984-5 the eight AZ cars were had conductor compartments added, and reclassed as ACZ 251-258, followed in 1986-1990 by the five VBK cars which became ACZ 262, 260, 261, 259 and 263 on the broad gauge.

Other cars were simply recoded, with VAM1 moving to broad gauge and being reclassed SZ287, while the seven broad gauge and six standard gauge economy carriages were renumbered 264-276 ex 1BZ-7BZ, VFK1-VFK6.

In the early 1990s the six VFK cars were returned to broad gauge and refitted internally with a better type of seating, being coded BZS to differentiate them from the existing BZ class. This was around the time the Riverina XPT was extended to Melbourne.

From 1993 some of the Z sets were broken up as the Sprinter railcars arrived, with only two five-car sets remaining: VZ1 and VZ2. The loose cars were utilised as additional cars in the N type sets, with the last Z set being broken up in 2006. A number of loose ACZ / BCZ carriages remain, that can be attached to N type sets.

When West Coast Railway started operating their own trains around 1995, they purchased a handful of carriages from V/Line. Those included ACZ252, 255 and 257, and BZ 267, 269 and 270. ACZ260 was another intended purchase but it had been damaged while on lease to West Coast Railway, before the purchase could occur, so V/Line substituted one of the other three ACZ coaches.

From the early 2000s the Z cars, both ACZ and BZ/BZS, were fitted with upgraded seating to match the N type interiors. Cars rebuilt like this were coded BZN or BTN, depending on whether they were intended to be used as fourth or fifth carriages as attached to an N set.

In December 2008, a N carriage (ACN21) was withdrawn from service to be converted to SG to run on the upgraded Albury-Wodonga line. Before withdrawal this carriage was in N set SN7, along with the BS cars. Because of ACN21's withdrawal, a Z carriage was introduced into the set permanently. The 5 BS cars and the Z car (BCZ257) were joined into a set coded Z57, as a replacement for SN7.

In late 2014, BCZ257 was noted as being semi-permanently coupled to N set VN17 as the fourth carriage. It tends to run on Swan Hill and Bairnsdale services.

Set history[edit]

As part of the 1983 New Deal, the steel country passenger rollingstock was organised into sets. The Z sets were numbered 51 to 63, after the ACZ carriages providing the conductor accommodation. However, the sets contained a mixture of S and Z type carriages.

Note: Colours are representative only, and do not directly correlate to liveries worn in the era.

Code Set No. From To Car E Car D Car C Car B Car A (East end) Changes to achieve Notes
Z 51 ACZ251
Z 52 ACZ252
Z 53 ACZ253
Z 54 ACZ254
Z 55 ACZ255
Z 56 ACZ256
Z 57 ACZ257
Z 58 ACZ258
Z 59 ACZ259
Z 60 ACZ260
Z 61 ACZ261
Z 62 ACZ262
Z 63 ACZ263

Current Status[edit]

By current codes. 251-263 are ex-AZ/ACZ/VBK, 264-276 are ex-BZ/VFK, 287 is ex-SZ/VAM.

With Mainline Operators[edit]

As at September 2015, 22 remained in service with V/Line. Nine were out of service awaiting new bogie frames.[2]

  • In service or under repair, V/Line Passenger: BTN 251, 253, 254, 259, 264, 264, 268; BZN 252, 256, 258, 261, 262, 265-267, 271-276, BCZ 257


  • In service, 707 Operations, Newport West Block: ACZ255, BZ270
  • Under restoration, Seymour Rail Heritage Centre: ACZ260, SZ287
  • In service, Steamrail, Newport West Block: BZ269 "Hobsons Bay"

Model railways[edit]


Powerline has announced intentions to produce a run of plastic, ready-to-run Z-type carriages sometime after the current run of the S-type carriages is completed.[3]


First run[edit]

The first run of models featured a full brass body preassembled and painted, with onboard lighting included. Three Z-type carriages were released as part of the 1960s-era Spirit of Progress series, with a VFK and a VBK included in the boxed set of ten (which retailed at $5,500.00), and a further two, 4VBK and 1VFK, included in an expansion pack at $1,100.00.[4]

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 $395.00 each.[5]

This second run will include 1-5AZ and 1-5BZ (marked Economy) in Victorian Railways blue and gold, as well as 252-254ACZ, 251BCZ and 264-267BZ in V/Line Orange.