W type carriage
|W type carriage|
Elliptical roofed 61BW as preserved by Steamrail Victoria
|Operator||various heritage operators|
|Track gauge||5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm)|
In the early 20th century, the Victorian Railways converted the central part of their network to electric traction. As part of this project, they converted a large number of 'Swing Door' rollingstock to electric traction, leaving a gaping hole in the ranks. As a result, the 'W' series of passenger cars were built. There were four variations, the AW, BW, CW and ABW, built from 1911.
There has been great interest in the origin of the 'W' group letter. In most other cases the letter has been derived from a basic feature or use of the car type. In the 1900s, new express passenger cars were being built to replace ageing equipment from the 1890s and earlier, and these were lettered 'E'.
At the same time shorter cars of the same design were built. As these cars were for general stopping trains, Peter J. Vincent, the main source for this article, believes the 'W' may represent 'Wayside' or non-express passenger type.
All the original carriages (built 1911–1918) were about 58 feet (17.68 m) long, 9 feet 6 inches (2.90 m) wide and fitted with clerestory roofs. The 1925 cars were the same dimensions but with curved roofs, and the 1926-and-beyond cars were 64 feet ¾ an inch (19.53 m) long instead (67 feet 2 inches or 20.47 m over couplers), widened to 10 ft (3.05 m), and retained the curved (arched) roofs.
All carriages (excluding the CW vans) had one compartment reserved for ladies and two compartments reserved for smoking. They were also fitted with single-gender lavatories at each end, and vestibules (with lock-able doors) for walking through to other cars in a given train. There was a water founted located about halfway down the corridor in each car.
Built from 1911, 29 AW cars were built. They were numbered 1AW to 29AW, and had the then-standard clerestory roofs. Over the years these were found to be insufficient for the traffic, and so numbers 30AW–35AW were built in 1922, the last to have the clerestory roof style. They seated six people in each of the 6 compartments (one reserved for ladies and two reserved for Smoking), plus two more people at each end for a total of 40 passengers.
As patronage grew and older cars were retired, construction resumed in 1925. This batch consisted of 36AW through 40AW, but these cars were fitted with the new style of curved roofs. The final batch of AW cars was constructed in 1926 and 1927, again fitted with curved roofs, and numbered 60AW to 68AW. Cars 69AW and 70AW were ordered but not built. These new cars were capable of seating 70 people across 7 compartments, again one reserved for ladies and two for smoking.
This resulted in a total of 49 AW carriages from 1911 through to 1927.
In December 1937, the newest carriages, 60AW through 68AW, were converted to add 2nd-class capacity to the system:
|AW number||BW number||AW number||VFW number||Final number||AW number||BW number||AW number||VFW number||Final number|
|60 AW||71 BW||60 AW||1 VFW||71 BW||64 AW||75 BW||64 AW||5 VFW||75 BW|
|61 AW||72 BW||61 AW||2 VFW||72 BW||66 AW||77 BW||66 AW||7 VFW||Sold to ACT ARHS museum|
|62 AW||73 BW||62 AW||3 VFW||32 MT||67 AW||78 BW||67 AW||8 VFW||78 BW|
|63 AW||74 BW||63 AW||4 VFW||34 MT||68 AW||79 BW||68 AW||9 VFW||79 BW|
|65 AW||76 BW||65 AW||6 VFW||33 MT|
Note that 60AW-63AW and 65AW were built in 1926, while 64AW and 66AW-68AW were built in 1927.
They were converted from AW to BW in December 1937, then BW to AW in 1955/56, and to VFW in 1972. The VFW's that were reconverted back to BW's were converted in 1979, while VFW's 3, 4 & 6 were converted to MT's in 1983. 7VFW was sold in 1983 as well.
The VFW cars were painted in VR Blue and Gold, and were on Standard Gauge. The cars were used for special excursion trips, generally scouting or defence 'specials' that required one train. These nine cars were joined in 1972 with the addition of 36AW, which was placed on standard gauge in the VR Blue and Gold, and numbered VBW1.
Built from 1911 to 1918 were cars 1BW to 39BW. They were designed to match the AW cars, but were second class and seated 56 people across 7 compartments, plus two at each end. They were almost exactly the same as the AW cars in every other way.
In 1925, cars 40BW through 44BW were built, with the new style of curved roofing. They were otherwise identical to the previous batch.
In 1926 and 1927, cars 60BW to 70BW were added to the fleet. Like the 1925 set, they had curved roofs. They were also slightly longer and wider, and had an extra compartment. This allowed them to seat 68 people.
In 1937/1938, nine were converted from AW cars, to the 71BW–79BW range. This was a result of an increase in second-class passengers. These were converted back to AW cars by the late 1950s. in 1980, the cars were again renumbered back to 71BW to 79BW, after spending some time as Standard Gauge 'second division' cars (the VFW class).
In 1981, BW 80–82 were converted from ABW 61–63.
As a trial it was decided in 1982 to re-letter 67BW and 70BW to BWL, indicating the larger seating capacity. However, the trial was terminated and no more were re-lettered.
10BW and 27BW were destroyed in a collision at Seymour in 1935, 24BW and 29BW was destroyed by fire at Ballarat Car Sheds, 1977 and BW 30 was scrapped in 1970.
57 ABW cars were built between 1911 and 1926. The earlier Clerestory-roof stock was numbered 1ABW to 47ABW. In 1925 cars 48ABW through 52ABW were constructed, with the new design of a curved roof, but still retaining all other dimensions and features of the earlier group. From 1926, new curved roof, longer and wider stock was numbered 60ABW through 63ABW and 65ABW.
The shorter, clerestory-roofed stock was able to seat 44 passengers across six compartments; 19 in First Class and 25 in Second. This breakup was achieved by the two seats at either end and with two full and one half compartment provided for each class. These cars were also an exception in that there was no "ladies" compartment, and that the two "Smoking" compartments were at opposite ends. Also, the middle section of the car, instead of being compartments, held extra toilets for ladies, with the two at respective ends of the cars for Gentlemen. There were also multiple doors along the corridor, separating the Smoking from Non Smoking, and separating the two classes. And to further divide the two sections, two separate water fountains were provided.
From 1961 to 1970, the original, clerestory ABW cars were recoded to ABU, to separate them from the larger capacity 64-foot cars. 1ABW was scrapped in 1951 and thus was not converted. The cars that still remained in the 1970s were converted to BU classification, thus becoming second class only.
About 1981, cars 61ABW-63ABW were converted to 80BW-82BW, and 65ABW was converted to 31MT.
The cars ran until the late 1980s when replaced by the then-new 'N' sets.
To supplement the W-series passenger cars, fifteen vans were built in 1913–1914 with clerestory roof outlines and numbered CW 1–15. An additional five vans were built in 1935, numbered 16–20. These vans were built with the arched roof style introduced in the 1920s. Unlike the passenger cars, the vans were shorter at
Over time these vans had their wooden sides replaced with steel.
64AW, 64BW & 64ABW
An interesting note is that 64ABW was never built, and never entered service. Peter J. Vincent's theory is that 64ABW was not built in the 1926 batch because of confusion between the 64-foot length of the new cars, and carriage number 64.
Also, 64AW and 64BW each entered service a year after their batch-counterparts, in 1927 instead of 1926. This was supposedly to reduce confusion. However, an extra ABW was not needed, and so instead of building 64ABW, the VR probably used its parts to construct one of 65AW to 68AW. This cannot be substantiated, but is the most likely explanation.
Being a mainstay on the Victorian Railways network for so long, the W-series has a large number of representatives still in service today. However when the time for preservation rolled around the longer, wider cars were preferred due to their higher seating capacity and as a result, most of these are higher-numbered. The cars that remain include:
23AW - at Maldon on the Victorian Goldfields Railway, and in service.
24AW - at Moorooduc on the Mornington Tourist Railway, and in service albeit with a silver stripe along the sides.
39AW - at Maldon on the Victorian Goldfields Railway
62AW - was in storage at the "Tarp Shop" yard Newport Workshops, but was scrapped sometime between 28-09-08 and 1-10-08.
63AW - at Healsville, currently awaiyting restoration and in its guise of 34MT
64AW - in the care of Steamrail Victoria
65AW - also at Moorooduc, and, like 24AW, has a silver stripe down the side.
68AW - Privately owned, numbered 79BW
60BW, 61BW, 63BW, 67BW and 68BW are operated by Steamrail Victoria. These are the carriages used during, among other runs, the suburban shuttles that run a few times each year. Steamrail also has or had possession of BW 80 and 82 (former ABW cars), but they are not in serviceable condition.
31BW was also sold, and it now functions as a restaurant in Tyabb's antique village, near Tyabb Station on the Stony Point Line.
1, 32 and 35 BW are owned by the Yarra Valley Tourist Railway in Healsville (and they may also have 43 BW and 62 BW), while 63ABW is in the care of Steamrail Victoria and 27BU now resides on the Mornington Tourist Railway.
1CW is stationary at Coal Creek. 14CW has been restored by Steamrail Victoria and 17CW is in the care of the South Gippsland Railway — the latter two in operational condition. On Peter J. Vincent's site it is noted that 9CW was sold to what is now 707 operations, but it does not appear on their website and was last seen in the late 1990s near Trentham. 15CW is noted as belonging to Steamrail, but this too has since vanished. 13CW has been partially preserved but painted in a pale blue livery, and now resides in Exford, Victoria which is south of Melton.
The W type carriages were slowly phased out of service from 1981 as part of the 'New Deal' reforms of passenger rail operations, with a number going into preservation. They are now shared by Steamrail Victoria, the Seymour Railway Heritage Centre, and other rail preservation groups.
The Victorian Goldfields Railway has in their possession 23AW, 29AW and 25ABU, while the Mornington Railway Preservation Society has 24AW and 65AW as well as 27BU.
- Peter J. Vincent: AW - First Class Sitting cars
- Peter J. Vincent: AW database
- Peter J. Vincent: BW & BWL - Second Class Sitting cars
- Peter J. Vincent: CW - Passenger Guards Vans
- Peter J. Vincent: ABW - First/Second Class cars
- Peter J. Vincent: VFW - Second Class Sitting cars, Standard Gauge
- Peter J. Vincent: MT - Rail Motor Trailers
- Steamrail-owned W cars
- Railpage thread