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<< Profile 8 >> POA/SSA Scrap Metal Wagons
Build Details: 1978-1984, Standard Wagon
Numbering: RLS5000-5099/5900-5980, later 470000-470180
Bogies / Suspension: BSC Friction Pedestal, Gloucester Pedestal, Gloucester Floating Axle
Dimensions: 9000mm LOB, 4877mm Wheelbase (not RLS5900)
Published Drawings:
Areas of operation: South Wales, East Midlands & Yorkshire, North East and Scotland
Main liveries: Light blue with yellow ends, later maroon.
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 trialled on other traffics, the type continues in the main on scrap metal flows.

History: This sheet 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, the prototype was painted in a yellow livery with Railease lettering, and given the design code of PO010A.

The first production batch appeared in 1982, numbered RLS5901-5920. Compared to the prototype, these wagons were half a metre longer, and also 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 undergrames (apparently the Barclays house blue, due to connections with the leasing company), and yellow ends. The letters SR were carried on the body, not for a resurrection of the Southern Railway, but for the owners Standard Railfreight.

This batch was evidently successful as a further 160 similar wagons followed in 1984. RLS5921-5980 were new builds, while RLS5000-5099 used underframe components from the short-lived British Steel fleet of PGA Iron-Ore Hoppers (BSRV12500-12599, although not renumbered in order). The body was slightly different 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.

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.

In one of the first cases of its kind, the entire fleet was bought by BR in 1990 and recoded as SSAs. The numbers were changed to 470000-470180 in the air-braked series, and the SR lettering was painted out. Otherwise the livery remained as before.

The body on RLS5900 (now SSA 470100) was replaced at some point with one featuring nine thicker vertical ribs on each side, and a large top capping. It could still be recognised by its lack of horizontal ribs. The entire fleet was now used on other duties, the steel industry in South Yorkshire having declined. Traffics included coal slurry to power stations, for which it was intended to recode some wagons as MHAs. The recoding was apparently cancelled (the MHA code being later used for ballast wagons) but at least one SSA was noted relettered.

In 1996 RFS was awarded a contract to fit new bodies to 50 of the SSA fleet for use on new scrap flows. The new bodies have smoother sides, the horizontal ribs being filleted at top and bottom to give a curious panelled appearance. All of the rebodied wagons carry EWS maroon livery.



Links: 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

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

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

Page added: 01/10/2007 Spotted an error? Got some additional info?
Please e-mail me at tom (at)
Last edited: 16/12/2007