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<< Profile 32 >> BAA Bogie Steel Wagons
Build Details: 1972-1976 BR Ashford and Shildon
Numbering: 900000-900198, 900200-900305
Bogies / Suspension: FBT6 (some later to Swing-Motion)
Dimensions: 13233mm LOB , 8077mm bogie centres
Published Drawings: British Railways Wagons - The First Half Million (Don Rowland, David & Charles, 1985)
Areas of operation: Most main-lines, particularly steel manufacturing areas
Main liveries: brown, black, maroon
Summary: When the initial examples appeared in 1972, the BAA wagons were the first bogie steel wagons built new for BR in 10 years. The design was a radical departure from earlier types, with modern bogies and sturdy ends. Just over 300 were built over the next four years, production then switching to the larger BBA type. In its basic form the type was able to carry a range of loads including slabs, ingots and strip coil. Many were later modified for steel coil traffic and the majority remain in service.

History: All of these wagons were 40ft long over headstocks, mounted on BR-designed FBT6 bogies (similar to the hugely successful Y25 type) and rated at 100 tons gross laden weight. The solebars were shaped to clear the bogies, being slightly deeper at each end and in the middle, while the brake control wheels were mounted at the outer ends of each bogie. All had ends made from steel sections, roughly 1 metre tall but varying between lots, and decks formed of inverted U-sections with mesh in between.

The first lot (3792) covered the construction at Ashford works in 1972 of 49 wagons. TOPS was not yet in full use and the design was allocated diagram number 1/441, while the wagons were lettered as Bogie Steel ABs. The first batch was fitted with vacuum through pipes and had ends formed of five equally spaced, vertical tapering sections, topped by full-width L-section. Numbered as 900000 to 900048, this batch was coded BAB (BAB-F) under TOPS, with design code BA001A applied. A second batch followed from Ashford in 1972 and 1973, identical save for the omission of the vacuum pipe. As such, these became BAAs (BAA-F) to design code BA001B. These were built to lot number 3803, and appeared as 900049 to 900124.

The next lot was 3805, built at Shildon in 1973. The ends were changed slightly, being lower and formed from four vertical sections, still tapered but capped in pairs with a narrow gap on the centre line. The design code remained as BA001B and 74 wagons were built, numbered 900125 to 900198. The number 900199 was not used and it is reported that the wagon that would have taken it was actually built as prototype BBA 910000. Construction returned to Ashford in 1975 when a fourth lot (3858) of BAAs was built as 900200 to 900273. Design code BA001C was issued to cover further changes to the wagon ends. These were similar to the BA001B wagons but with extra sections added on top to make the overall height the same as for the BA001A design. The curious appearance of these items suggests that it was a last-minute change.

The final lot was issued in 1976 and saw 32 more wagons being built at Ashford to lot number 3860. These had a revised TOPS code of BAA-M (for metric) and started a new design code series at BA002A, to reflect the more substantial changes incorporated. The bogie centering was altered from 26ft 6in to 26ft 3in (8m), while the solebars were made 4 inches deeper between the bogies. The ends were to yet another design, similar to that on the larger BBA wagons. Coupled with the deeper solebars, these wagons therefore looked more like BBAs than the earlier BAAs.

One curious aspect of the construction programme was the quantity of wagons in each order. The first batch was for 49 wagons, followed by one for 76, then two for 74 (the first reduced from 75), while the last was for 32. Most wagon lots were for more rounded quantities.

Quite soon after entering service, some wagons were fitted with coil cradles, although this did not result in any change to the TOPS code. The four or five cradles were usually fitted transversely (eye to side). Another modification that did lead to a change of code was the fitting of two longitudinal I-section beams the whole length of the wagon deck. These were creased in the vertical so that the tops angled towards the centre-line, thus forming a long channel in which coils could be carried, eye to front or ‘gun barrel’ style. Such wagons were usually (but not always) recoded as BKA or BKB and were known as ‘kinky beam’ wagons. Both codes were obsoleted by 1986 although it is not clear whether all the wagons were de-modified.

Most of the wagons to the first two designs (BA001A and BA001B) had the middle upright in each end cut away, making them resemble the later designs.

All BAAs and BABs were delivered in freight brown but from 1979 onwards, most were repainted in the new Railfreight livery of black with red ends. Where coil cradles were fitted, these were usually red too.

Experiments and modifications affected a few members of the fleet from quite early on. Apart from the coil conversions mentioned above, one BAA (900115) was given fittings for ferry traffic and renumbered in the RIV series as 31-70-4343-000-4. It reverted to its domestic number soon afterwards, and was further modified to carry nuclear flasks from Winfrith. The deck channels were removed to leave a flat floor, and a large, removable metal cover was fitted. In this guise it was recoded as an XJB, changed in 1983 to FOB, then to FOA (FOA-G) in 1986.

Two BAAs were fitted with new bogies under BR wagon experiment FW334 at an unknown date. 900230 and 900272 received cross-braced bogies with a curious angular and basic appearance. 900230 was further modified in 1991 to become an additional FOA (FOA-G to FO002A) for nuclear flask traffic from Winfrith. It lost its decking and end panels and was repainted in a non-standard grey livery. 900272 was withdrawn in 1992. In late 1984, BAA 900160 was fitted with tall ends and a flexible hood at Cardiff Cathays. Although not recoded, a new AARKND of BAA-H was issued.

A more widespread modification was the removal of the vacuum through pipes from the BAB wagons. This was however a very slow process, the number of BABs reducing to 44 by 1986, 41 in 1989 and 36 in 1991. With the virtual elimination of vacuum-braked wagons in steel traffic, the programme was accelerated with all remaining BABs recoded by the end of 1992. Affected wagons had their design code changed from BA001A to BA001D.

In 1991 another BAA was fitted with a solid floor, coil cradles, tall ends and a flexible sliding hood. 900257 was modified at Motherwell and recoded as a BKA-D (to design code BK003A). BAA 900219 was similarly converted at Motherwell but was not recoded until 1992, while earlier prototype 900160 was belatedly recoded BKA (BK004A) later that year.

A whole host of new TOPS codes was applied to this fleet from 1992 onwards, all for wagons modified to carry steel coils. While in the past TOPS may not have recorded such alterations, the need to allocate the correct wagon type to specific duties caused a policy change. First to appear were BYA (BYA-A) and BZA (BZA-A), for wagons with 30 ton and 25 ton capacities respectively. The BYAs featured four transverse cradles while the BZAs had five longitudinal cradles and thus resembled the earlier BKA kinky beam wagons. A range of design codes was issued, relating to the former BAA/BAB code as shown in the table below. By the end of the year, 106 BZAs were in use from Lackenby and Llanwern, while 14 BYAs were working from Grimsby. The residue of the fleet comprised 176 BAAs, the 3 BKAs and the pair of FOAs.

Code BXA (BXA-A) was added in 1993 and related to a different arrangement of coil cradles. Although not confirmed, it is believed that they included a mix of transverse and longitudinal cradles. All the BYAs were converted to BXA, along with a number of BAAs, with a total of 25 in use by the end of the year.

By mid-1994 the fleet disposition was 133 BAA, 2 BKA, 24 BXA, 141 BZA and 2 FOA for a total of 302 wagons. With the creation of the three regional railfreight companies, the steel fleet was divided between the west and north companies, later named as Transrail and Loadhaul respectively.

Odd one out among the new codes was BCA, which first appeared in autumn 1994 when the first of 55 BAAs were rebuilt to carry coil from Port Talbot and Llanwern. Unlike previous such variants, the wagons had their ends and floors removed, and the coils were carried in three box-like cradles. A range of design codes covering BC004 to BC008 was allocated, while smilar conversions from BBAs were coded BLA.

The final addition was BSA (BSA-A), applied in mid-1995 for a further modification to the cradle arrangement on the BXAs. Most of the BSAs had their cradles painted in Loadhaul orange.

The various design codes applied to these conversions are detailed in the table below.

Number range BAA BCA BSA BXA BYA BZA
900000-900048 BA001A (BAB)
BA001D (BAA)
BC008B BS004A (ex BXA)
BS004B (ex BXA/BYA)
BX008A
BX008B (ex BYA)
BY004A BZ002A
900049-900124 BA001B BC005A BS002A (ex BXA)
BS002B (ex BXA/BYA)
BX006A
BX006B (ex BYA)
BY002A BZ001A
900125-900198 BA001B BC005B BS002A (ex BXA)
BS002B (ex BXA/BYA)
    BZ001B
900200-900273 BA001C BC004A (prototype)
BC006A
BS003A (ex BXA) BX007A BY003A BZ004A
900274-900305 BA002A BC007A BS005A (ex BXA) BX009A BY005A BZ003A

English, Welsh and Scottish (EWS) railway was formed in 1996, bringing the fleet back under a single company. Repaints into EWS maroon took place as and when wagons were repaired or overhauled. In an attempt to reduce maintenance costs, EWS fitted new three-piece bogies to BAA 900172. The bogies featured push brakes, while the control wheel was moved from the bogies to the wagon solebar. Design code BA001H was issued, along with new AARKND of BAA-T.

All the BSAs and a number of BZAs reverted to BAA in 1999/2000 with the removal of their coil cradles (the BSA code was quickly reissued for modified BBA wagons). Although only around 16 years old, the arrival of newer steel carrying wagons meant that some damaged BAAs were withdrawn rather than being repaired. By 2008 the fleet had reduced slightly to 291 wagons (140 BAA, 52 BCA, 1 BKA and 98 BZA), but 34 were stored out of use. Changes in the interim included the fitting of Swing Motion bogies to at least 9 more BAAs, with new design codes BA001J, BA001L and BA002B applied. Some BAAs had been fitted with large yellow stanchions for slab traffic, these having angled tops to assist positioning during loading. This does not appear to have resulted in a change to the design codes.

Queries:

References:

Links: Photos of BAA wagons and variants on Paul Bartlett's website

Photos of BAA wagons on Martyn Read's website

Photos of BCA conversions on Martyn Read's website

Photos of BZA conversions on Martyn Read's website

Photos of BAA wagons on Andy Jupe's website

Photos of BCA conversions on Andy Jupe's website

Photos of BZA conversions on Andy Jupe's website

Updates: 15/03/2013: Photo links (finally) updated.
Photos
For more pictures see the Links section at the bottom

BAA 900090 at Newport, 25th August 2005.
Martyn Read


Page added: 22/12/2007 Spotted an error? Got some additional info?
Please e-mail me at tom (at) ltsv.com
Last edited: 30/09/2008