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7th October 2013
Main news of the past few months was the delivery of the first of 200 new-build bogie biomass hoppers for use by Drax Power. To suit the lower density load, these new wagons have a higher capacity than the earlier coal hopper conversions, and they unusually feature discharge chutes outside the bogies as well as between them. Built by W H Davis, numbers allocated are 83.70.0698.001 to 200, with TOPS code IIA-D and design code IIE970. Delivery is expected to run into 2015, and photos and scale drawings of the wagons appeared in the September and October issues of Rail Express magazine.

Other deliveries comprise more IDAs for DRS, 17 twin-sets numbered 39.70.4901.026 to 042 entering service in July.

Besides E970 mentioned above, other recently allocated E-series diagram numbers include E963 for bogie vans rebuilt as IWA-B timber carriers (with wagons being further modified to IWE971), E969 for former E703 Tiphook bogie box wagons fitted with extended height bodywork for scrap metal traffic (JRA-H to JRE969), and E973 and E974 to two batches of German car carriers (IPA-Z) now registered for use in the UK. The last mentioned are to UIC loading gauge so are limited to the channel tunnel route as far as Dagenham. The listing of diagram numbers in the E751 to E999 range has been updated and now includes these.

Another pair of VGA vans have been modified as RBA coupling adaptors, 210489 and 210553 now being RBA-Vs to design code RB050A.

1st July 2013
A couple of news items from Rail Express are of interest. Firstly, a tender has been issued for the construction of 10 new nuclear flask wagons, expected to enter service around the end of the year. Secondly, VGA vans 210493 and 210614 have been fitted with Dellner couplings at one end for use delivering new-build class 377/6 EMUs from Derby to Stewarts Lane. They have been given the resurrected TOPS code of RBA, latterly used for barrier wagons. As far as I know, this is the first non-revenue recoding of any VGAs, the VKA variant merely having modified running gear.

1st May 2013
This update aims to summarise developments over the past few years. As usual, only UK-registered wagons are covered (for now at least). If you know of any news stories that I have missed, please get in touch.

New builds
The bitumen tankers eventually entered service as 35.70.7790.000-029 (ICA-G to design code ICE949) while the HLA hoppers are 82.70.6956.000-011 (HLA-B to HL003A). The latter were notable for being the first wagons to have 'international' numbers but 'domestic' design codes (rather than E-series ones). They replaced all the former Marcon hoppers (coded HLA or JHA) and work with the remaining former Tiphook KPA hoppers.


New-build HLA 82.70.6956.001-5 and former Tiphook KPA 33.70.6905.026-4

The prototype 45ft twin low-liner built by WH Davis in 2008 (32.70.4501.000/001) was recoded from IFA to IDA (IDA-N/O to designs IDE938/939) and was trialled by DRS. This lead to an order for 50 similar wagons (25 pairs) in 2011, these appearing as 33.70.4901.000-024 (IDA-P to IDE959). Note that, unlike the prototype, each twin-set has just one number.

VTG launched a similar design of low-platform, short-deck container wagon (dubbed the Ecofret) in 2011. A prototype 3-wagon set was built comprising outer wagons 83.70.4520.000/001 (IFA-W to IFE966) and inner 83.70.4521.000 (IFA-X to IFE967). Again this resulted in a production batch, this time for Freightliner, who ordered 50 twin-sets and named them Shortliners. Delivery of the wagons (featuring new TOPS code FWA-A to design FW003A) started in mid-2012, using the number range 83.70.4520.002 upwards. The number range went as far as 83.70.4520.087 and it appears the order was amended to cover just 43 sets (86 wagons). Note that with these twin-sets, each wagon has its own number!


FWAs 83.70.4520.057-8 and 056-0

The prototype Ecofret set was also used by Freightliner, and was recoded to FWA (FWA-A FW003A for the outers and FWA-B FW004A for the inner wagon).

A colourful batch of 50 new tank wagons appeared in mid-2012. Numbered 83.70.7792.001-050 (TEA-L to TE048A), the wagons are either in VTG dark blue or Greenergy dark blue or light green. All have various large slogans on the tank sides, such as 'EFFICIENT' and 'Railfreight delivers with less CO2'.

More W H Davis-built IIA hoppers were delivered in 2012/2013 for use by GB Railfreight. The situation with these is a bit unclear at present. Some were built as coal hoppers then converted to biomass carriers (with top covers), while others were biomass wagons from new. The situation will be reviewed once all are in service. The number range is 83.70.6955.305-352 to design codes IIE936 (coal) and IIE953 (biomass).

Conversions and modifications

Perhaps the most interesting conversions to appear recently have been the wagons that form the new Network Rail 'snow trains'. Comprising former SPA plate wagons fitted with snowploughs and ballast weights and former YEA long-welded rail carriers fitted with de-icing equipment, all the wagons were given new RIV numbers. The SPAs became 99.70.9592.001-008, recoded ZZA-T (ZZ505A), while the YEAs are now 99.70.9594.001-013 as YXA-M (YX075A). The final YEA conversion was 99.70.9594.014 which differed in being fitted with point heating equipment for use in Scotland and was coded YXA-N (YX076A).

The ill-fated 'Hi-cube' wagons originally built for Rover car part traffic gained another chance for re-employment from 2011. Several had their hoods removed and a new floor, bolsters and stanchions fitted for use on Colas timber traffic. The conversions do not appear to have resulted in a change of TOPS or design codes (still KSA-A to KSE835) but 7 wagons were in the Colas pool by the end of the end of 2012.

Various conversions were undertaken for the growing biomass traffic, generally limited to the fitting of opening top covers to existing hopper wagons. Freightliner had HHA coal hopper 370058 modified by WH Davis in 2011, while a second DB Schenker HTA coal wagon (310318) become another CGA prototype. GB Railfreight is the only operator actually running biomass trains, and several IIAs were converted or built new (see above). Another change affecting the HTA fleet was the fitting of buffers and conventional drawgear at one end of 7 more wagons to allow haulage by locos other than class 66s. As with the 6 similar conversions undertaken in 2005, the wagon numbers were modified by adding 20,000. For example, 310745 became 330745.

The fleet of 400 FCA container flat wagons has seen a few changes recently. Starting in about 2009, some wagons were modified to enable running at 75mph and were recoded FYA. Towards the end of 2012, further wagons received the same modifications but also gained very slightly smaller wheelsets and changes to the bogie mounting, resulting in the deck height being low enough to accommodate 9ft 6in high containers. These wagons were recoded as FXA-C to FX004A, but retained their existing stock numbers in the 610001-610400 range. 14 wagons (7 pairs) were in use by the end of the year.

Former National Power JHA limestone hoppers NP19400-19420 were renumbered into the erstwhile 'railway-owned' number series as 300400-300420 in 2011/2012 with new TOPS code HJA. The wagons have been owned by EWS/DB Schenker since 1998 while the new TOPS code and number series appears to have been reserved in 2002. However, the wagons were not actually renumbered until their troublesome inside-frame LTF-25 bogies were replaced with outside-frame TF-25 ones. This reflects what happened to the National Power JMA hoppers, 21 of the 85 being rebogied and renumbered from the NP196xx range to the 3006xx range (and recoded to HKA) in 2009. The new codes for the HJAs are HJA-I (HJ001A) for the inner wagons and HJA-O (HJ001B) for the outers.


JHA NP19405 prior to renumbering

Finally, a curious development from early 2013 was the recoding of several YKA 'Osprey' track panel carriers back to YWA Salmon following removal of the specialised bolsters. These wagons had only been converted in 2009/2010.


DB996427 is one of several to revert from YKA to YWA

Renumberings and recodings

Apart from changes in connection with modifications (which are summarised above), there have been few cases of renumberings or recodings. VTG now seems to own a large proportion of the remaining 'private owner' wagons in the UK and they added the BP Oil fleet in 2010. Many wagons have had their owner prefixes changed to VTG over the past few years.

A new owner code to appear in 2012 was ERG for the Europorte Group. They bought 23 JGA hopper wagons that had been with Freightliner Heavy Haul since 2005 but which were part of a batch of 27 built for RH Roadstone in 1987. Originally numbered RHR17301-17327, RHR17301/12/25 and 27 were scrapped at Hayes in 2003. The rest became FLHH17302-17324 in 2005 (number for number apart from RHR17326 which became FLHH17312), and are now ERG17302-17324.


JGA FLHH17303 photographed while working for Freightliner

Withdrawals

Withdrawal and disposal of redundant wagons continues fairly rapidly, with many being deleted from TOPS each month. According to the 2013 issue of the ICRS UK Wagons fleetbook, brake vans are now down to just 8 (2 standard and 6 'Sharks'), while the once mighty Merry-Go-Round hopper fleet had reduced to a mere 19 examples. All of these wagons were shown as being out of use, along with many others, including some much more modern types such as MRA side-tipping ballast wagons. It would be interesting to know just how many wagons remain in regular use in the UK.

Most of the wagons withdrawn ended up being scrapped. However, two groups of wagons were rather unusually exported. Six tank wagons (4 TTAs and one each of TTV and TEA) were shipped to Qatar for use in fire training exercises, while no fewer than 50 Seacow ballast hoppers went to Romania for further use.


Site News
Latest additions and changes to LTSV Wagons

7th October 2013
Some recent developments are summarised on the left, while the relevant reference pages have also been updated. Although I have been combing various internet forums, the major wagon news stories are well covered by Rail Express magazine. This appears to be the only current magazine with regular coverage of wagons and is recommended reading.

I have uploaded a further 249 photographs, all taken over the past few months (the contributions from Derek Everson will be put up next time). New types covered are KRA sleeper carriers (rather poor, dusk photos) and JTA/JUA and MBA box wagons. Most recently, a trip to Tonbridge gave me the rare opportunity to photograph stationary wagons, these being JXA and MLA box wagons, MRA side tippers, QSA adaptors and two types of ZZA snowplough. The footbridge over Tonbridge West Yard was renewed in 2012 but luckily still affords excellent views of the yard.

1st July 2013
Another batch of 76 photos has just been added. All were taken at Hendon about a month ago and include a tamper and three La Farge trains (2 cement trains and a self-discharge hopper train). More photos are in preparation, including a further set from Derek Everson, while I am continuing with background work on additional pages and features for the site.

28th May 2013
Another 244 photographs have just been uploaded, taking the total to 1,944. The new batch is not particularly exciting, with lots of familiar types featuring again (notably JNA, MHA and MTA ballast box wagons). Three TOPS codes not previously covered are the HIA hopper, IHA covered steel wagon and KJA loading station. I did photograph the Redland self-discharge hoppers that work with the loading station but they came out too dark!

Also included in today's batch are 18 photos sent in by Derek Everson. Over the past few years Derek has contributed hundreds of photos for my other website and his continued support is appreciated. Anyone else who would like to see their photographs included should contact me at tom 'at' ltsv.com.

8th May 2013
Following a trip to Sidcup yesterday, 55 new photos have just been added. Three of the four trains seen were departmental, and new types added to the collection are IFA tilt-bed switch carriers (with their accompanying YRA beam-carrier) and an RRA runner.

1st May 2013
After a rather lengthy hiatus, the website has been brought back up to date today. I had been working on a new version that would run off a database and allow users to contribute content more easily. However, this was a long-term project so I have decided instead to gradually introduce some of the planned features into the existing site. The changes made today are as follows:

  • Wagons news from the past couple of years has been added

  • As can be seen on the left, wagon news will now include photos where available.

  • A gallery of my wagon photographs has been added

  • Thanks to several recent trips out, this contains just over 1,600 photographs. All are individual wagon shots (or detail views). Some 'whole train' photos may be added later.

  • All the data pages in the Reference section have been updated with recent events

  • This affects a large number of pages. I hope I have covered eveything; if you spot something missing, please let me know.

  • The defunct photo links have finally been updated

  • This affects the thumbnail and text links on the Profile pages (and elsewhere) and should mean that you are no longer redirected to dead Fotopic sites.

  • New E-series diagrams listing

  • This is a work-in-in progress that will eventually show details for all known E-series diagrams. There is also an introduction page which gives more information about the E-series of diagrams along with some illustrated examples.

    More enhancements are planned in the near future, including an update to all the existing profiles. This will include adding text to cover recent developments, and also larger photos (where available) within the text. The first has been done already and covers the Tiphook PIA/KPA hoppers and the various autoballaster types.

    9th February 2013
    Owing to some recent spam problems, I have temporarily removed the feedback function from these pages. You can still e-mail me at tom (at) ltsv.com



    Page added: 01/05/2013 Spotted an error? Got some additional info?
    Please e-mail me at tom (at) ltsv.com
    Last edited: 07/10/2013