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Rail Data > Articles > Profiles list > Profile 8: POA/SSA Scrap Metal Wagons
Title:POA/SSA Scrap Metal Wagons Profile Index Image
Built:1978-1984
Builder:Standard Wagon
Numbering:RLS5000-5099/5900-5980, later 470000-470180
Running Gear:BSC Friction Pedestal, Gloucester Pedestal or Gloucester Floating Axle
Quantity:181
Used:1978-current
Icons: Icon
Summary:A large number of open wagons for carrying scrap metal were built (or converted) during the 1980s. Perhaps the most distinctive were those owned by Standard Railfreight and painted in a bright blue and yellow livery. BR bought these wagons in 1990 and recoded them from POA to SSA. Most were eventually given new bodywork to a slightly revised design, and painted in EWS maroon. Although used on some other traffics, the type continues in the main on scrap metal flows.

Profile:
This profile covers the Standard Railfreight fleet of 4-wheeled scrap metal open wagons, all of which were later bought by BR. The prototype of the fleet appeared in 1978 and was similar to the BR-owned MFA wagons built two years earlier in that it had a tall plain box body with six vertical ribs on each side (the MFAs had five). The two designs also shared the small doors that enabled sweeping out when empty. Loading and unloading would be by grab or electro-magnet. Numbered RLS5900 as a POA-S to design code PO010A, the wagon had BSC (sometimes quoted as ESC) Friction Pedestal Suspension units, a 4570mm wheelbase and was 8440mm long (over buffers). Initially painted in a yellow livery with Railease lettering, it later gained the blue with yellow ends livery of the production type. In about 1986 it was rebodied by Standard Wagon (where it had been built) with a stronger body featuring nine vertical ribs on each side.
Prototype RLS5900 was back at Standard Wagon in July 1986 and was about to gain a new body.
The first production batch appeared in 1982, again from Standard Railway Wagon's Heywood works and numbered as RLS5901-5920 to design code PO010B. Compared to the prototype, these wagons had a slightly increased length (wheelbase and overall), Gloucester Pedestal suspension units, and the box bodies featured an additional horizontal rib half way up each bodyside and end (although these were not carried around the corners). A new livery was applied featuring light blue bodysides and underframes (apparently the Barclays house blue, due to connections with the leasing company), and yellow ends and top capping. The letters SR were carried on the body, not for a resurrection of the Southern Railway, but for the owners Standard Railfreight.
The first production batch kept the square access door of the prototype but added a horizontal body strengthening rib at mid-height. RLS5918 was seen a couple of years after construction, when it had been altered with spill-protection fillets. Note that the horizontal ribs do not extend around the corners of the wagon.
This batch was evidently successful as Standard Wagon built a further 160 similar wagons in 1984. RLS5921-5980 were fully new builds, comprising 30 to design code PO010C (with Gloucester Pedestal suspension units) and 30 to PO010D (with Gloucester Floating Axle Mk.IV units). The Metro Enterprises PO wagons book of 1989 lists these as RLS5921-RLS5950 and RLS5951-RLS5980 respectively, though photos suggest there was a bit of mixing.
RLS5926 was reportedly a PO010C wagon, but it appears to have the Mk.IV suspension units associated with design PO010D.
RLS5000-5099 (design code PO014A) used underframe components from the short-lived British Steel fleet of PGA Iron-Ore Hoppers (BSRV12500-12599, although not renumbered in order). These had BSC Friction Pedestal suspensions, a stepped solebar and wheel-operated handbrakes, all the others being lever. The bodywork on both batches was slightly different to the first 20 in that the horizontal ribs at the top and mid-height of the bodies now continued around the corners, while there was a further rib around the base of the body. The access door was replaced by narrow slots underneath this lower rib. Livery was the same blue and yellow and the type could be seen in block and Speedlink trains in many parts of the country, their main role being to supply scrap metal to British Steel works in the Sheffield and Rotherham area.
RLS5091 was in original condition when seen at Tinsley in February 1986, though similar RLS5010 on the right had already been fitted with spill plates. This high-level view shows the vertical fillets fitted in each interior corner of the body, to avoid right-angles where scrap metal could accumulate. Holes in these fillets acted as a ladder to allow staff to climb inside for cleaning out.
A modification made to these wagons quite early on was to fit fillets to the top and middle horizontal ribs. These were to prevent the build up of swarf. The bodies also had fairly prominent lifting lugs under the top lip of the body. It is thought this was to enable the bodies to be easily lifted off the underframes for repair or replacement. Scrap metal is a rough traffic and many of the bodies were soon a bit bashed and bruised.
Towards the end of the same year, RLS5091 was photographed again, offering a clearer view of the fillets added to the top and mid-height horizontal ribs to prevent the build-up of fragments of scrap metal. Note that a different style of hand brake wheel is fitted than that seen on the other side earlier. The slot door for sweeping out is visible below the centre panels.
In one of the first cases of its kind, the entire fleet was bought by BR in 1990 and given new TOPS code SSA-A. The numbers were changed to 470000-470180 in the air-braked series, while the design codes were SS001A/B/C/D (ex PO010A/B/C/D) and SS002A (ex PO014A). Lot number 4070 was issued to cover the change of ownership. Apart from altering the numbers and TOPS codes the only visual change was the painting out of the SR lettering, and the wagons initially continued working on scrap metal traffic centred on Tinsley (Sheffield).
The first major change in traffic use took place in 1992 when some of the SSA wagons were trialled on coal services. They were hired to British Coal Opencast and used from various locations in Scotland, the North East of England and the Midlands. Later that year, 40 of the wagons were assigned to a pool for opencast coal traffic in South Wales. The transfer led to the allocation of a new TOPS code of MHA-A (Mineral, Open Box, ex SSA, 35 tonne carrying capacity) by early 1993, and at least two wagons were reported with MHA codes and Coal Sector logos. However, it would appear that the change was never officially recognised and no associated design codes have been reported. The wagons instead remained as SSAs, though the MHA-A code was soon re-used and applied to a large fleet of ballast wagons rebuilt from MGR coal hoppers from 1997 onwards.
In spring 1994 BR's Railfreight operation was split into 3 regional companies, as a precursor to privatisation. The SSA fleet was divided between Trainload Freight North East and Trainload Freight West, these companies soon being rebranded as Loadhaul and Transrail respectively. Loadhaul launched a dramatic black and orange livery, but this is not believed to have been applied to any of the SSA wagons. Transrail had a more conservative mid-grey livery for its wagons, and at least one SSA was so repainted, with a couple also gaining T prefixes to their existing stock numbers. Another development in 1994 was that the first few examples of the SSA type were withdrawn, and the fleet has seen a very gradual reduction in numbers ever since.
The new Railfreight companies proved to be short-lived, as all three were bought by US Railroad Wisconsin Central in early 1996 and re-merged to form EWS (English Welsh and Scottish Railway Company). A new livery of dark red with yellow highlights was devised and was applied to at least one of the SSA fleet (470158). Many of the wagons were in fairly bad shape after years of loading and un-loading by electro-magnets or grabs. The new owners decided to embark on a rebodying program, and contracted RFS at Doncaster to fit new bodies to 50 (later extended to 170) of the SSA wagons. The new bodies were similar in configuration to the old ones, with vertical and horizontal external ribs for strength. However, all the ribs had fillets on both sides, avoiding any sharp recesses where scrap fragments could lodge. This gave the wagons a somewhat curious 'panelled' appearance. The bodies were painted in EWS red with yellow top capping, red also being applied to the bufferbeams, while the solebars and suspension units were black.
Photographed more than 20 years after it was rebodied, 470066 was still in relatively good condition. It is possible that it had been rebodied more than once!
Emerging in 1997 and 1998, the rebodied wagons retained the SSA-A TOPS code but gained new design codes. The former PGA conversions (470000-470099) were changed from SS002A to SS002B, while the new-builds to designs SS001B/C/D became SS001F/G/H respectively. Note the omission of code SS001E. This may have been kept aside for the rebodying (again) of the SS001A prototype, although this never took place and 470100 remained with its unique body until at least 2011. About a half-dozen other SSA wagons also missed out on the rebodying program, the last two of which appear to have been withdrawn in about 2008 and 2010.
With coal traffic drastically reduced, the SSA fleet mainly kept to its original use of carrying scrap metal. However, the type was suitable for various other flows. In 2020 the type made a rare appearance in the South East when it was used for a long-distance flow of aggregates for Norris between Angerstein Wharf in London and Scunthorpe. This allowed me to photograph the type for the first time, though the traffic soon went over to bogie wagons. The fleet by this time was down to about 80 wagons, of which 20 were reported stored out of use. It was notable that the condition of the bodywork on many of the wagons was becoming rather poor!
By 2020, wagons such as 470162 were looking a bit battered, particularly around the top edges.
There were still developments in the fleet, and at least three new design codes were issued in about 2009. 2 wagons changed from SS001G to SS001K, 5 wagons from SS001H to SS001L and 2 from SS002B to SS002C. The reasons for these changes are not known, but they were probably minor modifications. Of note is that the three SS001L wagons that I photographed all had labels for Henry Orchard Scrap Metal Merchants of St Austell, not seen on any other examples. Note also the omission of design code SS001J. Again this may have been kept aside for any SS001F wagons that received the modification, keeping the blocks of codes in the same order.
The Henry Orchard label is visible in the centre panel of SS001L wagon 470164.
A more recent change appears to have taken place in 2021, this being the introduction of new TOPS code SSA-B to distinguish those wagons with lever-operated brakes. All surviving wagons in the 470100-470180 range (with lever brakes and design codes in the SS001x series) were recoded SSA-B, while the remainder (470000-470099 range, handwheel-operated brakes and SS002x design codes) remained as SSA-A. This appears to be part of a tidying-up exercise and similar changes were made to other types such as the BDA Bogie Bolsters and derived types such as the MXA bogie box wagons.
Comparison of the three suspension types to feature on POA/SSA wagons. From left to right they are ESC/BSC Friction Pedestal, Gloucester Pedestal/Floating Axle and Gloucester Floating Axle Mk.IV.

References:

Links:N.B. Links will open in a new window.
Photos of POA and SSA wagons on Paul Bartlett's website

Photos of SSA wagons on Martyn Read's website

Photos of SSA wagons on Andy Jupe's website

Notes: No notes have been left yet. ?There may be some notes posted but which have not yet been approved.

Data tags: ?Tags are mainly intended to show links to relevant profiles when looking at the detail page for TOPS codes, designs, batches etc. Here they work 'backwards' and will take you to the detail pages. Batch: 470000-470099
Batch: 470100
Batch: 470101-470120
Batch: 470121-470150
Batch: 470151-470180
Batch: RLS5000-RLS5099
Batch: RLS5900
Batch: RLS5901-RLS5920
Batch: RLS5921-RLS5950
Batch: RLS5951-RLS5980
Design/Diagram: PO010A 51 tonnes GLW Open Scrap
Design/Diagram: PO010B 51 tonne GLW Scrap Wagon
Design/Diagram: PO010C Open Box Scrap Wagon
Design/Diagram: PO010D Open Box Scrap Wagon
Design/Diagram: PO014A Open Box Scrap Wagon
Design/Diagram: SS001A Open Box Scrap Wagon
Design/Diagram: SS001B Open Box Scrap Wagon
Design/Diagram: SS001C Open Box Scrap Wagon
Design/Diagram: SS001D Open Box Scrap Wagon
Design/Diagram: SS001F Open Box Scrap Wagon (Rebodied)
Design/Diagram: SS001G Open Box Scrap Wagon (Rebodied)
Design/Diagram: SS001H Open Box Scrap Wagon (Rebodied)
Design/Diagram: SS001K Open Box Scrap Wagon (Rebodied)
Design/Diagram: SS001L Open Box Scrap Wagon (Rebodied)
Design/Diagram: SS002A Open Box Scrap Wagon
Design/Diagram: SS002B Open Box Scrap Wagon (Rebodied)
Design/Diagram: SS002C Open Box Scrap Wagon (Rebodied)
TOPS Class/Code: MFA (1) Mineral Wagon, Ferrous Scrap
TOPS Class/Code: MHA (1) 2-axle Mineral Open Box Wagon, ex SSA
TOPS Class/Code: POA-S P.O. Open, steel scrap, 2 axle
TOPS Class/Code: SSA Scrap steel, open box body (ex POA)
TOPS Class/Code: SSA-A Scrap steel, open box body (ex POA)
TOPS Class/Code: SSA-B Scrap steel, open box body (ex POA)

Added on:01/10/2007
Edits: Record edited 1 time.
Time / DateEdited byChange
20:37 on Thu 09/06/2022Thomas YoungProfile expanded with extra details and photos

External Photos
For more, see the Links section.

POA RLS5043 in original livery. Heywood, 19th August 1985.
Paul Bartlett


SSA 470014 in as-acquired condition. Aldwarke, 18th September 1994.
Paul Bartlett


SSA 470005 (rebodied) at St Blazey, 1st May 2006.
Martyn Read