Victorian Railways E type carriage

The E type carriages were wooden express passenger carriage used on the railways of Victoria, Australia. Originally introduced by Victorian Railways Chairman of Commissioners Thomas James Tait for the interstate service between Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide, these Canadian-inspired carriages remained in regular service for 85 years over the entire Victorian network.[1]

E type carriage
An E type carriage, as restored by Steamrail Victoria
Interior of a restored AE coded first class carriage
ManufacturerVictorian Railways
Operator(s)various heritage operators
Car body construction71 ft (21.64 m)
Car length73 ft 8 14 in (22.46 m)
Width9 ft 6 in (2.90 m)
Height13 ft 8 14 in (4.17 m)
Power supplyAxle-mounted generators
Bogies53 ft 10 in (16.41 m) centres; 10 ft (3.05 m) wheelbase each; 63 ft 10 in (19.46 m) total wheelbase
51 ft 10 in (15.80 m) centres for 43BE post-rebuild; 8 ft 9 in (2.67 m) wheelbase each; 61 ft 10 in (18.85 m) total wheelbase
Braking system(s)Westinghouse
Coupling systemscrew, later autocouplers
Track gauge5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm)


Carriages on Victorian long-distance express services at the start of the 20th century were, in comparison to the Pullman cars operated by the New South Wales Government Railways, relatively cramped and austere.[1] Chairman of Commissioners Thomas Tait, previously the Transportation Manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway,[2] introduced a carriage design that was 71 feet (21.64 m) long, and as wide as the loading gauge allowed. Much of their external appearance was based on typical Canadian carriage design, with a clerestory roof curved at the ends, doors only at the ends of the car, and six-wheel bogies, although their interior design retained the compartment and corridor layout typical of English railway practice.[1]

The cars were built over a steel truss underframe, with wooden bodies constructed in cedar, six-wheeled bogies with eight brake blocks each (two outside the outer wheels and two each per centre wheel), and clerestory roofs to give ventilation and daytime lighting. Night-time lighting was initially provided with Pintsch gas. Drop-toilets for both genders were provided in all passenger vehicles except the dining cars, along with staff toilets in the twelve mail vans.

About three decades into their lives, 15 first-class carriages had air-conditioning added, the first (36AE) being out-shopped in December 1935. The Victorian Railways claimed it was the first such car in the British Empire, but the Canadian Pacific and the New South Wales Government Railways already had air-conditioned carriages.[3]


Four and six wheeled bogies as used under the cars.

Of the joint stock carriages, the first class and sleeping carriages were constructed at Newport Workshops by the Victorian Railways while the second class carriages and most of the vans were constructed by the South Australian Railways' Islington Railway Workshops. Later carriages of the E design were constructed at Newport Workshops.

The first batch of E-class carriages were built between 1906 and 1911, with 38 AVE 1st class cars, 16 ABVE 1st/2nd class cars, 39 BVE 2nd class cars, 25 DVE guard's vans, 10 ESBV, 2 EES and 2 EEB mail vans, 6 Sleeping cars and 2 Parlor cars, a State Car was built in 1912, with a similar design to that of the Parlor cars. The DVE, EEB and EES classes were 60.16 feet (18.34 m) long, the remainder 71 feet (21.64 m). All had wooden bodies, clerestory roofs and six-wheel bogies. On his website, Peter J. Vincent notes that he suspects the 'E' classification referred to 'Express'.

The cars were recoded, AVE to AE, BVE to BE, DVE to CE, EEB to D, EES to DS and ABVE to ABE in the 1910 renumbering. In 1935 some surplus carriages were converted to BCE cars. The original total of 144 was increased, with a further 31 cars being built from 1919 onwards. However, three of the new cars were replacements, so the total never exceeded 182 cars.


First Class sitting cars

First class sitting cars
ManufacturerVictorian Railways
Built atNewport Workshops
Entered service1906-1992
Number built42
Number preserved1, 2, 12, 18 & 30[4]
Number scrapped37
Design codeAVE, AE
Fleet numbers1-16AVE; 1-42AE; 51 & 52AE
Capacity48 1st class passengers
Operator(s)various heritage operators
Car body constructionTimber
Car length71 ft 0 in (21.64 m) over body; 74 ft 1 14 in (22.59 m) over pulling lines; 73 ft 8 14 in (22.46 m) when coupled
Width9 ft 6 in (2.90 m)
Height13 ft 8 14 in (4.17 m)
Maximum speed70 mph (113 km/h)
Weight34 LT 19 cwt 0 qtr (35.51 t) (non-airconditioned)
Axle load8 LT 14 cwt 3 qtr (8.88 t) (non-airconditioned)
BogiesE type at 53 ft 10 in (16.41 m) centres
Braking system(s)Westinghouse air brakes
Coupling systemAutocoupler
Track gauge5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm)

These carriages were built from 1906 with eight compartments, each seating 6 first-class passengers for a total of 48 along with a lavatory/wash basin arrangement at either end of each carriage. In the first four carriages, two compartments at the Gentlemen's end were reserved for Smoking travellers, while another two compartments adjacent to the Ladies lavatory were reserved for ladies only; this was later reduced to one Ladies compartment, with the Non-Smoking compartment count increased from four to five.

26 cars were built and numbered AVE 1 to AVE 26. In the 1910 recoding the class was relettered to AE, with the original numbers retained. Construction continued with a further twelve cars released to traffic through 1910 (Nos. 27-38), and a final four cars were added in 1923 (Nos. 39-42). Cars 5-10 and 39-42 were in Joint Stock service (shared) between Adelaide and Melbourne, on trains such as the Overland.[5] Although all construction was at Newport, only around 25 of the carriages were constructed by the Victorian Railways; the remainder (spread fairly randomly throughout the class) were constructed at least partially by contractors in the Newport area.

Car 36AE was notable as this car was the prototype car for air conditioning carriages in VR service, the test for the "Spirit of Progress" cars. 36AE entered service 13 December 1935, after air conditioning modifications, which took seven months to complete. In 1961, it was renumbered 49BE. The car was destroyed in a derailment at Laverton during 1978.

Some cars were leased to the South Australian Railways following World War II; as of 1950 they included 4AE, 11AE, 13AE and 14AE.[6] In 1952 cars 7 and 8AE were sold to the South Australian Railways to become their 550 and 551. The cars were later forwarded to the Commonwealth Railways, with 550 being written off in 1993 and 551 (after other incarnations) preserved by the Ghan Preservation Society in Alice Springs. 9AE was also leased to the SAR for a period in February 1954.

In the early 1960s, some AE cars had their bogies switched with those formerly under the Spirit of Progress carriages, as those cars were converted to standard gauge. However, while the bogie frames were transferred, it is thought that the AE cars may have retained their spoked wheelsets(?). Around the same time, AE 36, 1, 3 and 12 were recoded to BE cars 49 through 52, with their seats removed and replaced for eight per compartment, total 64. 50BE stayed in that form, though the latter two cars were converted back to AE classification in the early 1980s as numbers 51 and 52.

In 1970 car 37AE was taken off register, but in 1971 it was converted to the second HW 1 as a crew car for the Weedex train. In this form it ran around Victorian lines, while the train sprayed weed-killer onto the tracks.

Weedex car[7]
ManufacturerVictorian Railways
Built atNewport Workshops
Entered service1971-1995
Car length71 ft 0 in (21.64 m) over body; 74 ft 1 14 in (22.59 m) over pulling lines; 73 ft 8 14 in (22.46 m) when coupled
Width9 ft 6 in (2.90 m)
Height13 ft 8 14 in (4.17 m)
Maximum speed70 mph (113 km/h)
BogiesE type at 53 ft 10 in (16.41 m) centres
Braking system(s)Westinghouse air brakes
Coupling systemAutocoupler
Track gauge5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm)

1AE (still coded 50BES), 2AE, 18AE, 30AE and 1BG are in the custodianship of the Seymour Railway Heritage Centre, along with the frame of 39AE. 12AE is currently in the care of Steamrail Victoria, and 1HW ex 37AE is stored under their care, unserviceable, in Newport Workshops East Block yard. 18AE was with the Victorian Goldfields Railway, but it was purchased by Seymour Railway Heritage Centre and moved by rail to Seymour for restoration in late 2010. The body of 24AE is used as an administration office at a community farm in Brunswick East, though reportedly in poor condition. Coordinates are 37°45'57.8"S, 144°59'03.7"E.

28AE's body was sold privately and spent some time in Warrnambool before being moved to Codrington.

Buffet & Restaurant cars

Buffet Car, later Taggerty; Restaurant cars Kiewa & Moyne
In service1937-1983
Capacity18 1st class passengers & 18 buffet stools (Taggerty)
Weight50 LT 4 cwt 0 qtr (51.01 t)
Axle load12 LT 11 cwt 0 qtr (12.75 t)

34AE was converted to a buffet car in 1937 and named Taggerty two years later. In this form a kitchen and long counter facing eighteen seats filled most of the carriage, with three first-class compartments seating the same number of passengers in the rest of the carriage. Taggerty ran in VR long-distance services, most often on the 12 noon Melbourne to Bendigo, returning on the 5:04pm. It originally retained the dark red scheme of the Victorian Railways' passenger fleet (though with a silver roof), but was later repainted into the blue and gold scheme. The vehicle was sold in 1983 and it now resides in a park in Dimboola.[8]

21AE and 26AE were intended to follow Taggerty, but this work was held off during World War II. As work had already started the vehicles could not be pressed back into service, so they spent the war in the Newport Workshops compound. In 1955 the cars were finally finished off and re-entered service, as air-conditioned Restaurant cars with three compartments retained and the rest of the car stripped out and replaced with a buffet module and an eating area. The cars were named Kiewa and Moyne respectively.[9] A John Buckland photo of Moyne in 1958 at Dimboola shows that it was fitted with ex-Spirit of Progress bogies.[10]

Partial-Saloon cars

Kiewa, Moyne, 1 & 2 BG
In service1961-1992
Number preserved1[11]
Capacity62 2nd class passengers
Weight46 LT 12 cwt 0 qtr (47.35 t)
Axle load11 LT 13 cwt 0 qtr (11.84 t)

In 1959 the restaurant cars Kiewa and Moyne were withdrawn as a failed experiment. They had their eating areas removed and replaced with saloon-style seating, and re-entered service in 1961. The cars were listed in the Working Time Table as second-class vehicles sitting 64 (though two of those seats were unreserved adjacent to the men's lavatory), as the compartment seats had been replaced with four-across, eight per compartment. The result was three sets of eight seats in the compartment end, and the remaining 38 seats in a saloon format as 2+2, either side of a 2 ft 1 in (0.64 m) hallway.[12] The saloon area was handed over to smoking passengers, while the compartments were restricted to non-smoking passengers. The compartment walls had previously supported the car roof, and that function was handed over to four columns along the saloon section. The 'G' in the code may have indicated Grampians, a Victorian mountain range the cars would often run through, though by the mid 1970s 1BG was exclusively allocated to services on the Yarram line.,[13] and later it was used as a radio test vehicle. It is now preserved.

2BG was destroyed in a Glenorchy level crossing smash, in 1971.

Composite First & Second Class sitting cars

Composite sitting cars
ManufacturerVictorian Railways
Built atNewport Workshops
Entered service1906-1992
Number built16
Number preserved3, 5, 7, 10, 11 & 16[4]
Number scrapped10
Design codeABVE, ABE
Fleet numbers1-10ABVE & 1-16ABE
Capacity25 1st class & 33 2nd class passengers
Operator(s)various heritage operators
Car body constructionTimber
Car length71 ft 0 in (21.64 m) over body; 74 ft 1 14 in (22.59 m) over pulling lines; 73 ft 8 14 in (22.46 m) when coupled
Width9 ft 6 in (2.90 m)
Height13 ft 8 14 in (4.17 m)
Maximum speed70 mph (113 km/h)
Weight43 LT 6 cwt 0 qtr (43.99 t)
Axle load10 LT 16 cwt 2 qtr (11.00 t)
BogiesE type at 53 ft 10 in (16.41 m) centres
Braking system(s)Westinghouse air brakes
Coupling systemAutocoupler
Track gauge5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm)

10 cars were built between 1906 and 1909 at or near Newport Workshops, classed ABVE. The cars seated 23 first and 31 second class passengers in eight compartments; one Smoking at the outer ends, adjacent to the two male lavatories, and one Ladies in the middle, connecting directly to the Ladies lavatories of the same class. As in the AVE and BVE cars, the Ladies compartments had direct access to their respective toilets, in trade for one seat each. Additionally, each car had a two-seat bench opposite the male toilets at each end, giving a total seating capacity of 58 passengers. In the 1910 recoding the cars were relettered to ABE with numbers retained, and around this time a further 6 were built to the same design as numbers 11-16.

Nine of the cars were recoded to BES in about 1960 (indicating slightly lesser capacity than a normal BE car), with a further four of the class scrapped between 1970 and 1982.

5ABE and 16ABE are preserved at Seymour Railway Heritage Centre while 3ABE and 7ABE are currently under the care of Steamrail Victoria. 12ABE was also under Steamrail's care, but everything above the frame was scrapped in 2008 after deteriorating markedly.

In preservation, 7ABE has been fitted with a small kiosk and was originally Steamrail's snack bar carriage until 14 BRS was acquired by Steamrail.

Second Class sitting cars

Second Class sitting cars
Air conditioned 19BE as preserved by the former South Gippsland Railway
Interior of a second class BE coded carriage
ManufacturerVictorian Railways
Built atNewport Workshops
Constructed1906-1910 & 1923
Entered service1906-1992
Number built43
Number preserved3, 5, 7, 10, 11 & 16[4]
Number scrapped10
Design codeBVE, BE, BES & BEL
Fleet numbers1-31BVE, 1-43BE, later 44-48BE(L), 49-52BE, 53-61BE(S)
Capacity72 2nd class passengers (76 for BEL; 64 for BES).
Operator(s)various heritage operators
Car body constructionTimber
Car length71 ft 0 in (21.64 m) over body; 74 ft 1 14 in (22.59 m) over pulling lines; 73 ft 8 14 in (22.46 m) when coupled
Width9 ft 6 in (2.90 m)
Height13 ft 8 14 in (4.17 m)
Maximum speed70 mph (113 km/h)
Weight41 LT 10 cwt 0 qtr (42.17 t) (non-airconditioned)
44 LT 10 cwt 0 qtr (45.21 t) (airconditioned)
Axle load10 LT 7 cwt 2 qtr (10.54 t) (non-airconditioned)
11 LT 2 cwt 2 qtr (11.30 t) (airconditioned)
BogiesE type at 53 ft 10 in (16.41 m) centres
Braking system(s)Westinghouse air brakes
Coupling systemAutocoupler
Track gauge5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm)

These carriages were built from 1906 with nine compartments, each seating 8 second-class passengers for a total of 72 along with a lavatory/wash basin arrangement at either end of each carriage. Like the AVE cars, the first four cars had two compartments at the Gentlemen's end were reserved for Smoking travellers, while another two compartments adjacent to the Ladies lavatory were reserved for ladies only; this was later reduced to one Ladies compartment, with the Non-Smoking compartment count increased from five to six. BVE cars numbered 5 and higher began their lives with two Smoking, 6 Non-Smoking and 1 Ladies compartment each.

39 cars of this class were built initially; the majority were numbered BVE 1 to BVE 31, although construction continued with cars 32-39 being released after the 1910 recoding, so they started life as BE cars with the remainder of the class recoded to join them. In 1923 a further four cars, 40BE to 43BE, were built to supplement 5BE-10BE in the joint-stock arrangement.

The Joint Stock cars were built at the South Australian Railways' Islington Railway Workshops; the other 33 carriages were built at Newport, although about two-thirds of those were built by local contractors rather than Newport Workshops.

9BE and 43BE were involved in the 1929 derailment at Callington, SA. 9BE was destroyed, but 43BE was rebuilt with a new underframe and bogies spaced at 51 ft 10 in (15.80 m) rather than the class standard of 53 ft 10 in (16.41 m). The new underframe had been fitted by 3 August 1931 at Islington, and the car was also fitted with external South Australian Railways drop-handle handbrake equipment on one of the corners, matching the style of van 1D.[6]

At some point, 42BE was fitted with steel sheeting over the timber sides in an attempt to preserve them.

Cars BE 44 to BE 48 were converted from BDSE mail sorting cars between 1922 and 1929 (see details below). Cars 49, 50, 51 and 52BE were former first class airconditioned cars, reclassed when new steel carriages were introduced. 53BE to 61BE were converted from composite ABE cars during 1981, as the start of the transition from wooden stock to all steel cars and altered rostering of carriages into small fixed sets.

8BE was scrapped on 11 April 1958 following a side-swipe at Mount Barker in the early morning of 1 January 1958. The carriage was running in a train from Victor Harbor to Adelaide, hauled by engine 525, when it collided with the second division of the Adelaide to Melbourne Overland service.[6]

To overcome problems with different seating capacities within the BE group, two suffixes were added to the class in 1982. Using the standard BE capacity of 72 passengers, cars with a greater capacity (76 passengers) were coded BEL and cars with less capacity (64 passengers) were coded BES. Cars listed as BEL were 44 to 47 while BE 50, 53, 55-61 were reclassed to BES, same numbers, during 1982; it is likely that cars 52 and 54 were also relettered but records have not been found to confirm this. All these cars were withdrawn during 1983/1984 thanks to the introduction of the N sets.

One BE underframe was retained by the South Australian Railways for workshops use; the bogies and frame, including floor, were used to transfer heavy beams around the workshops until the late 1980s.

1BE, 14BE, 26BE and 33BE are currently preserved at Seymour Railway Heritage Centre, 17BE, 25BE, 30BE and 38BE along with 46BE (ex BDSE) are currently preserved with Steamrail Victoria while 2BE, 3BE, 4BE and 29BE are stored; 15BE and 20BE were with the Victorian Goldfields Railway but were sold to Seymour Railway Heritage Centre and moved by rail to Seymour for restoration in late 2010. 19BE, 34BE and 36BE are allocated to the South Gippsland Railway, and 42BE (constructed at Islington Railway Workshops, South Australia) is preserved at the National Railway Museum at Port Adelaide. 45BE (ex BDSE) has been named Hastings and is currently at Moorooduc on the Mornington Tourist Railway, along with 57BE and 58BE both ex ABE. 47BE (ex BDSE) is privately owned and at Seymour.

Guard's Vans

DVE, later CE vans & 1VHE
Clerestory roofed 18CE as preserved by Steamrail Victoria
ManufacturerVictorian Railways
Built atNewport Workshops
Entered service1906-1984
Number built37
Number preserved5, 13, 18, 19 & 31[14]
Number scrapped32
Design codeDVE, CE & VHE
Fleet numbers1-16DVE; 1-37CE & 1VHE
Capacity12 LT 0 cwt 0 qtr (12.19 t) (1DVE-16DVE, 1CE-27CE) 20 LT 0 cwt 0 qtr (20.32 t) (15CE rebuilt & 33CE-37CE)
Operator(s)various heritage operators
Car body constructionTimber
Car length60 ft 2 in (18.34 m) over body; 63 ft 3 14 in (19.28 m) over pulling lines
Width9 ft 6 in (2.90 m)
Height13 ft 8 58 in (4.18 m)
Maximum speed70 mph (113 km/h)
Weight34 LT 10 cwt 0 qtr (35.05 t) unloaded
Axle load8 LT 12 cwt 2 qtr (8.76 t) unloaded
BogiesE type at 43 ft 0 in (13.11 m) centres
Braking system(s)Westinghouse air brakes
Coupling systemAutocoupler
Track gauge5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm); one on 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge

From 1906, construction of the DVE vans started. At 60 ft 2 in (18.34 m) long, the vans were used for small amounts of freight (in some cases including meat, fish and coffin areas), and they incorporated guards cupolas at either end of the carriages. Vans 1 and 2 were built at Newport, with 3 through 6 at Islington. Originally this meant two fish-fitted vans were available for the Adelaide run and another two for the Albury run, but shortly after those services began the Newport pair were swapped for DVE 5 and 6, so that the Joint Stock (fish-fitted) series was 1 through 4, and they were to be used exclusively on Adelaide services. Construction continued at Newport in much the same fashion until 1910, when the 17th van was classed CE and the previous 16 DVE vans were reclassed to same. The CE fleet continued to expand through 1911, with the last vehicle being 25 CE.

The first 25 DVE/CE vans were split into three subtypes. Vans 1 through 4 had two outer guards' compartments 7 ft 3 38 in (2.22 m) long, two outer baggage compartments of 15 ft 8 14 in (4.78 m) long, and a central fish compartment of 13 feet (3.96 m). Vans 5 and 6 were similar, although the central compartment was switched to regular traffic instead of fish, and expanded to 14 ft 8 in (4.47 m) long with the outer two compartments reduced to 14 ft 8 14 in (4.48 m) in length. Vans 7 through 25 were altered further, with the guards' compartments reduced to 5 ft 6 12 in (1.69 m) wide; this was done so that the three central compartments could be expanded, with the outer two reaching 15 ft 11 12 in (4.86 m) across and the centre 15 ft 9 14 in (4.81 m).

The fleet was further expanded from 1923, with vans 26 through 32 built to the same design (and 26/27 added to the Joint Stock fleet), and i 33 to 37 built with an arched roof similar to the then-new W type carriage design. Those four were also fitted with four-wheel (two-axle), rather than six-wheel (three-axle) bogies.

Between 1926 and 1928, vans 11 through 14 had one of their guards' compartments removed at one end to make way for two transversely mounted coffin chambers. The end door was sealed as a result, but the vestibule connection remained.

In 1930, a collision at Seymour wrecked 15CE. A new van, also numbered 15CE, was built to the style of CE 33-37 instead of as the original 15CE.

From 1936 the Joint Stock carriages were being repainted in a green, black and yellow scheme, but this program had to be cut short account the world war. Carriages were spotted in bright red from 1943, including 3CE and 26CE in the late 1940s.[6]

The 1936 General Appendix specifies that CE type brake vans were absolutely banned from the Healesville line, but it does not specify why.[15]

In 1963 35CE was modified for standard gauge service. It was reclassed to 1VHE: (V) Victoria; (H) (NSW guards van code); (E) (E-car van), although in 1969 the van was restored to its former identity.

Vans 35 CE and 36 CE spent some time with Vinelander stencils.

33CE was the only wooden vehicle to be painted in the VicRail 'Teacup' livery, which followed the Victorian Railways' blue and gold.

18CE, owned by Victrack, is currently serviceable thanks to the efforts of Steamrail Victoria. 31CE, also owned by Victrack, is currently under restoration by the Victorian Goldfields Railway. It is thought that both 13CE and 19CE were originally leased to Steamrail, but no record of either van has been seen since.

5CE is preserved in Bright at a museum at the former railway station, and it is one of only two South Australian Railways-built E cars to survive. The body of 7 and 16 CE were noted at Drouin, 8 CE at Hallam, 10 and 21 CE at Officer, 20 CE at Hanging Rock, 23 CE at Beaconsfield, 24 CE at Warrnambool, 33 CE at Gembrook and 36 CE at Yea.

Composite Second (sitting), Guard and Mail Sorting cars

Second Class sitting, Guard & Mail cars
1BCE as preserved by Steamrail Victoria
ManufacturerVictorian Railways
Built atNewport Workshops
Entered service1909-1986
Number built10
Number preserved4, 1, 2, 6 & 7 ESBV/BDSE as 1-5BCE; 9, 10 & 3 as 45-47BE[16][17]
Number scrapped2
Design codeESBV, BDSE & BCE
Fleet numbers1-10ESBV/BDSE & 1-5BCE
Capacity41 2nd class passengers (1-10 ESBV/BDSE)[18]

36 2nd class passengers (8-10 ESBV/BDSE post modification)[19]

42 2nd class passengers, 9 LT 10 cwt 0 qtr (9.65 t) goods and 8 bikes (1-5 BCE)[20]
Operator(s)various heritage operators
Car body constructionTimber
Car length71 ft 0 in (21.64 m) over body; 74 ft 1 14 in (22.59 m) over pulling lines; 73 ft 8 14 in (22.46 m) when coupled
Width9 ft 6 in (2.90 m)
Height13 ft 8 14 in (4.17 m)
Maximum speed70 mph (113 km/h)
Weight46 LT 10 cwt 0 qtr (47.25 t) plus goods (as BCE)
Axle load11 LT 10 cwt 0 qtr (11.68 t) plus goods (as BCE)
BogiesE type at 53 ft 10 in (16.41 m) centres
Braking system(s)Westinghouse air brakes
Coupling systemAutocoupler
Track gauge5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm)

A batch of ten ESBV carriages were built in 1909-1910, generally to the standard E design, but with about half the carriage devoted to mail sorting, for use on express trains on runs such as Melbourne to Bendigo. The cars had two seats at one end opposite the male lavatory, one smoking compartment, three standard and one ladies' compartment, giving a total seating capacity of 41 passengers. The latter compartment had direct access to the ladies' lavatory from within the compartment, at the expense of one seat. The ladies lavatory was directly opposite a staff lavatory, which adjoined the staff-only mail sorting compartment, which was a little under 30 feet (9 m) long. The mail compartment contained a sorting desk with a pintsch-gas heated wax pot (for letter sealing), a cupboard, four seats and thirty-four pigeon holes on one side, and a framework for storage of sixty mail bags on the other. Besides the inter-carriage diaphragms, the mail sorting compartment was only accessible by a sliding door on each side of the carriage, much like those on DVE vans. ESBV 6 through 10 were slightly different internally compared to ESBV 1 through 5 — if looking from the mail sorting area towards the passenger area the corridor was on the right, rather than the left as in the first five cars.

After less than a year in traffic, the 1910 recoding saw the ESBV vans re-lettered to BDSE.

In 1913-14, the last three BDSE cars were modified internally; the ladies compartment and lavatory were removed and replaced with an expanded mail sorting area, a little under 40 feet (12 m) long, but with only two seats, 21 mail bag frames and 12 pigeon holes. In addition, three compartments were smoking and one non-smoking, a reversal of the former arrangement. Notably, all four compartments were now gentleman-exclusive. The external sliding doors near the middle of the car were not moved, but an additional pair of sliding doors were added at the non-passenger end of the carriages. The capacity of these cars was recorded as 36, but that didn't appear to count the two seats opposite the male lavatory. It is thought that these changes were made to allow for the reduced need to sort mail en route, as postal sorting capabilities increased.

Between 1922 and 1923, BDSE cars 8, 9 and 10 had their mail sorting facilities removed, being replaced by regular passenger compartments. The cars were renumbered to BE 44, 45 and 46 respectively, and they were joined by BDSE 3 and 5 in 1929; these two became BE 47 and BE 48.

In 1935, the remaining five BDSE carriages were converted from mail sorting use to baggage and van use, as class BCE, and with numbers 1-5, formerly 4, 1, 2, 6 and 7. The change was in response to the spread of mail sorting facilities to country locations, in addition to the lack of goods traffic on passenger trains. That meant that large guards vans such as the CE type were not as economic to run because they had no passenger capacity. The BCE cars kept their five passenger compartments, though the mail sorting section was completely stripped and the sides redesigned. The four double-windows and a sliding door were replaced by steel sides, a single door and a sliding door. Cupolas were also added in the middle of the carriage, to allow guards to look over the roofs of the train.

All five BCE cars have been preserved:
1BCE - Steamrail Victoria
2BCE - Seymour Railway Heritage Centre, previously Victorian Goldfields Railway (not operational). Moved to Seymour for restoration in late 2010.
3BCE - Seymour Railway Heritage Centre
4BCE - Seymour Railway Heritage Centre (not operational)
5BCE - Steamrail Victoria (not operational)

Additionally, three former BDSE cars were saved as BE cars:
45BE (formerly 9BDSE) - Mornington Railway, serviceable
46BE (formerly 10BDSE) - Steamrail Victoria, owned by Victrack, serviceable
47BE (formerly 3BDSE) - Privately owned, being restored.

Mail storage vans

In 1907/8, two 60'2" mail vans were constructed by Newport Workshops as part of the E car order. They were classed as EEB 1 and 2 and were externally similar to their DVE cousins, except that they lacked the guard's cupolas and vestibules on either end of the carriage . Rather, the EEB cars were entirely empty save for two internal semi-partitions for strength, to be used for the transport of twenty tons of mail only.

In the 1910 recoding the EEB vans were recoded to D 1 and 2. In 1923 van D 1 was destroyed in an accident at Glenorchy, and the number was reused on a new joint stock steel van in 1931; this van was similar internally but with a steel body, curved roof, and an extra ten tons of weight compensated by its 25-ton capacity. The new car was painted into the then-new hawthorn green Overland livery in 1935, then blue as a temporary van in the Spirit of Progress until the proper van was completed for inclusion in that train. During 1942-43 it was painted black,[6] then from 1946 it was painted red before passing from Australian National to Steamranger.

In 1929 van D 2 was destroyed in another accident, this time at Callington, SA. As a result, none of the non-vestibule E type carriages survived beyond then.

Mail sorting vans

With the EEB cars another two 60'2" vans were constructed, but rather than merely storing the mail en route, these were designed for sorting of the mail with an onboard crew. Classed EES 1 and 2, these vans were fitted with facilities for storage for fifteen tons of mail bags, pigeon holes and two desks each long enough for four mail sorting staff, along with a lavatory. One side of each van had three doors, and the other side had only two.

(A third EES car was converted from O 17 in 1908, although it was a completely different design and completely unrelated to the E series. Built in Adelaide in 1887, it became DS 3 in 1910. In 1923 it was converted to a Way and Works car, WW 4. The car had been scrapped by 1941.)

In the 1910 recoding the EES cars became DS 1 and 2 (not to be confused with the DS van of the Spirit of Progress). In March 1928 they were converted to standard baggage cars and renumbered to D 3 and 4. In this identity they survived until 1973, when they were written off at Islington. The underframes with floors were recycled as workshop transfer vehicles, for shifting heavy loads around. They were also used at one point to transfer bridge beams, until one frame was overloaded and failed.

Dining cars

Campaspe, Goulburn & Wimmera[21]
In service1908-1990
Capacity24 1st class & 18 2nd class diners; Goulburn later 8 sleepers, later 10 sleepers; Medical & Vision Test Car / Wimmera later 3 sleepers
Weight49 LT 5 cwt 0 qtr (50.04 t); Goulburn later 49 LT 8 cwt 0 qtr (50.19 t); Wimmera/Medical & Vision Test Car later 46 LT 9 cwt 0 qtr (47.20 t)

In 1908 three Dining cars entered service, Goulburn, Campaspe and Wimmera, intended for use on the express trains to both Adelaide and Albury (Sydney). All three cars had ornate metal ceilings and high backed leather chairs. In each car the kitchen was fitted with an ice chest, a pintsch-gas stove, a sink and a workbench, and was capped with an open buffet at either end. This was centrally situated between two saloons, one seating 24 first class and the other 18 second class passengers. A corridor on one side of the carriages allowed passengers and staff to walk between the two ends of the car.

All three cars had their underframes removed and replaced in 1923; the frame from Goulburn was used to build Sleeping car Acheron, the frame from Campaspe for Buchan, and the frame from Wimmera for Angas. It is not clear why this occurred.[22]

Goulburn was altered in 1932 for use as standby Commissioners car for "Reso" and "Holiday Train" tours, with the fitting of 8 berths and two showers in old first dining saloon and an office and dining room in 2nd class area. In 1938 a third shower was fitted, but from 1939 to 1945 the car was stored at Ballarat due to World War II. In 1953 it was overhauled for the Royal Train and painted blue and gold. It was fitted with windows at one end in 1986, and repainted in 1988 to the Corporate livery of grey and white as a staff car, until displaced by Mitta Mitta ex BRS228. In 1991 it was taken to Bendigo and fitted with head-end power in lieu of axle generators, and it is currently under the control of Steamrail.

Campaspe had a similar history until 1927 when it was replaced with a steel dining car; at that time it was transferred to Albury Express as a buffet car, then a hospital car from 6 February 1942 for the length of WWII. It was stored at North Melbourne from 1945 to 1952 when it was converted to sleep 16 men in longitudinal upper and lower bunks with a centre aisle, and retaining a small kitchen and tables for those 16 people to feed. It ended up on Breakdown train at Dynon in the 1980s. Eventually it was allocated to Plan R (Seven-O-Seven Operations) Victoria and later transferred to the Seymour Railway Heritage Centre, where it is currently awaiting restoration to operational condition.

Wimmera ran as a Dining car until 1938, when it was converted to the Medical and Vision Test Car. It was withdrawn from service in 1981, but re-entered service in August 1988 painted blue and yellow on Commonwealth Bogies with the name "Wimmera" on side of car. It is currently at the Newport railway museum.

Parlor cars

Parlor Cars Yarra & Murray;[23] State Car 4,[24] Tambo[25]
Parlor car Tambo, a joint stock sleeping car converted by the Victorian Goldfields Railway
In service1906-1983
Capacity33 1st class passengers (Yarra & Murray); 26 passengers (State Car 4)
Weight34 LT 18 cwt 0 qtr (35.46 t) (Yarra & Murray); 46 LT 17 cwt 0 qtr (47.60 t) (State Car 4)

Parlor cars Yarra and Murray were built in 1906 to the E car design, with an open observation car balcony at one end, along with a glass end window and lounge. They were used on the Sydney Limited until the introduction of the Spirit of Progress.[26]

Starting from the end of the train, the Parlor cars were equipped with a 6 ft (1.83 m)-wide open balcony, surrounded with a wrought-iron fence at waist height and gates (usually kept locked) on either side. This was equipped with folding chairs. A glass pane separated the balcony from the 22 ft 6 in (6.86 m)-long observation room, with three large windows on either side, twelve comfortable armchairs and a fixed bench seating three; over this was a bookshelf for passengers' convenience. A corridor then ran along the right-hand-side of the carriage, with four compartments adjacent. Respectively, these were the Special (private) compartment, a ladies' compartment and the adjacent ladies' toilet (accessed, unusually for the design, from the corridor rather than directly from the compartment), and lastly the Conductor's compartment which also contained limited space for luggage and supplies. This latter compartment was retrofitted with external swinging doors to assist with loading of goods. Beyond the corridor was a 12 ft 6 in (3.81 m) smoking compartment with only one long window on each side and five chairs identical to those of the observation compartment; this had a door on each side opening to the platform, although one of the chairs would have to be moved if the platform was on the compartment side rather than the corridor side. Lastly, a short central corridor led to the inter-carriage vestibule, with a Gentlemen's lavatory split over both sides (toilet on the corridor side, wash basin on the compartment side).

All 33 passengers paid an additional Parlor Car fare on top of the fare for a reserved, first class seat.

Murray was operational until the 1950s, when it was removed from bogies and placed in the North Melbourne yards as a classroom for staff. In the early 1960s the body was demolished and burned.[27]

Yarra was restored by the Australian Railway Historical Society in the 1960s and remains in service today.[28]

State Car No.4 was built in 1912 to a similar exterior design, although the internals were replaced to effectively make the carriage a travelling hotel, with some sleeping compartments.

Yarra and State Car No.4 are both preserved by the Seymour Railway Heritage Centre.

Sleeping cars

E Type Sleeping Cars
ManufacturerVictorian Railways & South Australian Railways
Built atNewport Workshops & Islington Railway Workshops
Entered service1907-1992?
Number built16
Number preserved13 plus three (Angas, Onkaparinga & Dargo) static
Number scrappedBarwon & Glenelg; Baderloo possibly soon.
Capacity18 sleeping (20 for Buchan & Wando)
24 sitting
Operator(s)Victorian Railways, South Australian Railways, VicRail
Car body construction71 ft (21.64 m)
Car length73 ft 8 14 in (22.46 m)
Width9 ft 6 in (2.90 m)
Height13 ft 8 14 in (4.17 m)
Weight37 LT 7 cwt 0 qtr (37.95 t) (Melbourne, Ballarat, Wolsely & Adelaide as built)

39 LT 11 cwt 0 qtr (40.18 t) (Loddon, Glenelg, Finniss and Torrens as upgraded; Barwon & Onkaparinga as built)
41 long tons (41.66 t) (Angas, Acheron, Baderloo, Buchan, Coliban, Dargo, Inman, Pekina, Tambo and Wando as built)
49 long tons (49.79 t) (Buchan and Wando without air conditioning)[29]

52 long tons (52.83 t) (Buchan with air conditioning)

Sixteen E type sleeping cars were built at Newport Workshops, primarily for the Adelaide - Melbourne service. The first four cars had been built by 1908, and were originally named Melbourne, Ballarat, Wolseley and Adelaide. In 1910, these cars were renamed Loddon, Glenelg, Finniss and Torrens respectively, after rivers between the two capital cities. In 1911 Onkaparinga and Barwon were built, to be followed by Baderloo, Dargo, Pekina and Tambo in 1919. In 1923, four more cars were named Angas, Coliban, Acheron and Inman.,[30] and a further two cars, Buchan and Wando, were constructed to a modified internal design with the smoking/saloon area replaced with a tenth sleeping compartment. This tenth compartment was slightly longer than the rest. Later, three further sleeping cars were built with a similar internal layout, and named Werribee, Indi and Ovens.

As far as can be ascertained, only the first fourteen cars were built as shared vehicles; the last two - Buchan and Wando - appear to have been exclusively Victorian Railways rolling stock, built for the Mildura line.[31] This is reflected in the 1939 decision by the Victorian Railways, with no input from the South Australian Railways, to remove the names of those sleeping carriages and replace with numbers 4 and 5, following on from Werribee, Indi and Ovens as Sleepers 1, 2 and 3 respectively. At the same time Buchan / No.4 was fitted with an air conditioning unit, powered by axle-driven generators.

Notably, Buchan, Acheron and Angas were built on the underframes originally used under E type dining cars Campaspe, Goulburn and Wimmera respectively.[32]

With the exception of the last two, the cars were designed with nine, two-berth sleeping compartments, with cupboards and a folding wash basin in each. In day form, each compartment would be able to sit two passengers; at night the seat folded down for the first bed, and the second was lowered from the wall panels above that seat to give a bunk arrangement. A saloon was provided at one end of the car, called the Gentlemans Lounge and reserved for smoking passengers. This area was identified with its longer external window either side, and was supplied with four loose leather chairs; though by the 1950s these were replaced with two chairs of a different style. When traffic required it, the Lounge area could be converted to a further two berths, but due to lack of privacy the section was charged at normal first class rates instead of the higher First Class Sleeper rates applied to each of the compartments. At the non-smoking end two of the compartments were reserved for Ladies, and these were separated from the rest of the car by swing doors fitted in the side corridor identical to the one separating the Lounge from the corridor. Each compartment was accessed by sliding doors with coloured leadlights in lieu of normal glass; and an attendant's room was provided at both ends of each car; one of these had tea making facilities and a lavatory.

Like the rest of the E cars, the Sleepers initially had a strong Edwardian style with features including carved panelling, pressed metal ceilings, frosted glass and lamp pendants all being ornately decorated. A row of bevelled mirrors was provided above the windows on either side of the cars with an engraved starburst pattern, though these were removed in later years due to corrosion. Three mirror panels were provided above each compartment window, and seven over the saloon windows.

The first service run of the cars was a Parliamentary special to Echuca on 17 October 1907, with sleepers Melbourne, Adelaide and Ballarat and parlor car Murray, leaving Melbourne at 5:30pm. From 31 October the cars were regularly scheduled on the Intercolonial Express from Melbourne to Adelaide.

Tambo,[33] Angas, Coliban, Acheron and Inman were built from new with electric lighting; and as noted above Buchan and Wando featured a tenth compartment instead of a lounge area, for 20 berths.

The Overland

From 1936, the named joint-stock cars were externally painted dark green with "The Overland" in chrome plated letters on the fascia panel above the windows, to introduce the new brand for the Melbourne to Adelaide express. From 1943 the green scheme was traded out for the standard Victorian Railways bright passenger red.

Split fleet

As steel cars were introduced to the Overland from late 1949, the timber cars were split among the two systems. In 1950, the South Australian Railways purchased Victoria's share in Angas, Dargo, Finnis (ex Wolseley), Onkaparinga and Tambo, leaving nine cars in joint stock service. Angas had been purchased in March and Finnis in April; both were painted in the green and yellow scheme at time of sale, and fitted with half-drop windows and steel side-sheets from the late 1950s. By the 1960s both had been repainted into red with silver stripes, in something of a facsimile of the new Overland scheme. It seems likely that Dargo and Onkaparinga experienced the same changes, given that Onkaparinga had the steel sides in place when it was finally withdrawn; however Tambo clearly did not have steel sides fitted below the windows in 1985.

A further four Joint Stock cars, Baderloo, Barwon, Glenelg (ex Ballarat) and Torrens (ex Adelaide), were condemned in 1967. It is likely that Barwon and Glenelg were scrapped[34] Baderloo was sold without bogies and moved to Junction Rd, Littlehampton, South Australia, owned by Joylene Liebelt, and Torrens was transferred to the then-new Australian Railway Historical Society museum in Newport, Victoria; it is now a static exhibit.

South Australian cars

The South Australian cars were allocated to the Mount Gambier overnight service, with Finnis and Angas externally rebuilt in 1953 to provide a better quality of travel. Tambo, Onkaparinga and Dargo were not refurbished, though at some point, Onkaparinga was fitted with steel sheeting over the sides in an attempt to preserve the timber. In 1972 the South Australian Railways sold Onkaparinga to the Marbury School in Aldgate, with bogies. In 1988 it was donated to the Port Dock Station Railway Museum.[35] In 1974 Dargo was condemned and sold without bogies to a private property in Lameroo, South Australia, and was reported to be in good condition and stored undercover.[36] Tambo followed in 1975. On 24 September 1976 Angas caught fire while on the Mount Gambier run, due to a worn brake block generating sparks and heat. There were no injuries and passengers were transferred to an adjacent carriage, but most of the car was damaged and the repair cost was estimated at the time to be "in excess of $30,000".[37] As a result, the car was withdrawn from service; at the same time the other cars were withdrawn and placed into storage. Finnis and Angas were passed to the Australian Railway Historical Society's South Australian division, operating as SteamRanger. Finniss stayed at Steamranger where it operates today while Angas was sold off to the Yorke Peninsula Railway, due to the high cost of repairing it. Angas was sold off again, due to the same reason. Eventually. It ended up in NSW, where it was repaired and turned into B&B accommodation. Tambo was planned to go to the Pichi Richi Railway, but after being stored for several years at Peterborough it was transferred to SteamRanger in 1980, then awaiting restoration at their Dry Creek depot.[33]

Victorian cars

From 1965 the Victorian Railways introduced the Train of Knowledge, essentially a mobile school camp for week-long tours. The train made use of the E type sleeping cars for students and teachers, as they were increasingly being displaced by newer steel cars.

The remaining five Joint Stock sleepers, Acheron, Coliban, Inman, Pekina and Loddon (ex Melbourne) became part of the Victorian Railways fleet on 27 June 1969.[6] They had names removed and replaced with numbers, as Sleeping cars No.6 through 10 following on from No.5 ex Wando.

Between November 1983 and May 1984, these carriages were upgraded. Restoration work included repainting, revarnishing, new upholstery, new carpeting, retention toilets and reinstatement of the pre-1969 names.

Current status

As noted above, Barwon and Glenelg were most likely scrapped in 1967.

Steamranger in South Australia initially had Angas, Coliban, Finnis, Inman and Tambo. Of those, Finnis has always been in operational condition, both before and after the move from Dry Creek to the Victor Harbor line. However, in 1995 Angas was sold for use on the Yorke Peninsula Tourist Railway; when that line closed in 2009, the car was sold to Australian Train Movers, and was transferred to Londonderry in NSW. In 2011 the car was delivered to Little Forest Country Cottages in the Southern Highlands, NSW, and by the end of 2012 it was restored as a bed and breakfast.[38] Tambo was sold to West Coast Railway in the mid-1990s, and delivered to their Ballarat East depot in 1996. When West Coast Railway folded in 2004, the car was sold privately and it has since been restored to operational condition, though half-converted to a Parlor car style, similar to that of Yarra and Murray, and it runs on the Victorian Goldfields Railway. Acheron was allocated to the VGR in August 2017 pending restoration. Coliban and Inman were sold in 1997-98 and transferred by road to Steamrail, Victoria, in the West Block of Newport Workshops. There, they joined Werribee and Indi, and most of the cars are now serviceable. Also at Newport, 707 Operations has Buchan, currently under restoration, and was joined by Wando in 2017; and the Victorian division of the Australian Railway Historical Society has preserved Torrens in their museum, in the south-eastern corner of the Newport Workshops compound. It has been externally restored, and as of late 2016, the interior is also being fixed up.

In the early 1990s the majority of the Train of Knowledge consist was allocated to the Seymour Railway Heritage Centre, including sleeping carriages Wando, Acheron, Pekina and Loddon. The first three were deemed surplus to requirements in 2017, with Acheron transferred to the Victorian Goldfields Railway, Pekina to the Overland Museum in Nhill and Wando to 707 Operations.

Onkaparinga was restored in 2010 to early 1950s condition at the Port Dock Rail Museum.[39]

In 1986 Baderloo was noted as being in poor condition, but in 2003 it was sold to Jim Emmett of the Mount Lofty railway station. At the time the car was intended to be stabilised, then transferred to Lofty Railway Station's gardens for restoration as a static exhibit. The shift was later called off account difficulties in arranging proper transportation, so the vehicle is still in Littlehampton, wrapped in tarps.

Dargo is currently undercover on private property.

In service

First delivery phase (1906-1913)

Melbourne to Albury (Sydney)

From the beginning, the E cars were organised into fairly fixed consists, as demonstrated by their delivery dates. 28 August and 30 October 1906 each had the release of an AVE-AVE-AVBE-BVE-BVE-DVE consist, with the accompanying Parlor cars released to service a few months later; Yarra on 31 October and Murray on 19 December 1906. These trains ran from Melbourne to Albury, connecting to the New South Wales express trains to Sydney at Albury station. All of these cars save for Murray had been released to service by the 1906 Melbourne Cup.

Originally, these trains were intended to run with the DVE van adjacent to the locomotive tender, followed by the second class, first class and Parlor car portions; however, for the first few years the DVE ran between the last First Class and the Parlor car. It has been speculated that this may have been due to management and unions being uncomfortable with the concept of the guard being so far from the end of the train (which he was supposed to protect).

Melbourne to Adelaide

The second batch of E cars consisted of twenty-four vehicles; six AVE and BVE cars, four Sleeping cars and DVE vans, and two EEB and EES vans. The SAR built 9 of the cars plus one underframe at Islington Workshops to cover 40% of the construction cost (as agreed between the SAR and VR commissioners), though the body of this tenth car was constructed at Newport.

Victorian country services

After provision of carriages for the Adelaide and Albury services, Victoria chose to continue construction of the E fleet in order to replace older carriages on some of its principal intrastate routes. For this purpose, a further 28 AVE/AE, 14 ABVE/ABE, 29 BVE/BE, 3 Dining, 19 DVE/CE and 10 ESBV/BDSE cars were constructed. By the end of the 1912/13 financial year, these cars in conjunction with the W cars were being used on trains to and through Ararat, Ballarat, Bendigo, Cobram, Geelong, Maryborough, Port Albert and Wangaratta among others.

The ESBV and EES cars were used for sorting of mail en route, so as to reduce the load on smaller post offices which would not have had the staff required for such a task. Other than the abovementioned Adelaide express train with its EES vans, the ESBV cars were usually utilised on services to Albury, Adelaide (on a regular passenger service), Bacchus Marsh-Ballarat-Stawell, Bendigo, Cobram, Melbourne-Geelong-Ballarat, Port Albert, Port Fairy and Sale-Maffra-Bairnsdale.

Second delivery phase (1919-1938)

By 1919 the demand for sleeping cars skyrocketed on the Melbourne-Adelaide train; this was due to a lack of watercraft still in serviceable condition after World War 1, and by the recent opening of the then-new Trans-Australian line from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie and on to Perth. Four new sleeping cars were constructed to a similar design, although these had upgrades in the form of electric lighting (the first in the E fleet), and a different form of seat/berth design so that the seat backs were not used in the beds.

Demand steadily increased over the next few years, and by the early 1920s it had reached a point where even more carriages were required. This resulted in the 1923 construction of another six sleeping cars, four first- and four second-class passenger carriages and 2 CE vans for Joint Stock service, plus another five CE vans for regular service. Once again Islington Workshops were called upon to provide a fair share on construction and associated costs, so the BE and CE Joint Stock cars were built there, with the Sleeper and AE cars built at Newport.

A year later another five CE vans had been outshopped by Newport Workshops, bringing the total of that class to 32. In 1924 another five were assembled, giving the CE total of 37 vehicles. These five were built with curved roofs between their cupolas but were otherwise similar to the remainder of their class.

By the end of their second decade in service the class as a whole had undergone some modifications; most cars were fitted with electric lighting, half the BDSE fleet had been converted to BE cars and both DS cars were converted to D type vans due to the declining requirements for on-train mail sorting.

The final E type carriage to be constructed was 15CE in July 1930, replacing the previous 15CE which had been destroyed in January of that year. The new 15CE was also given the curved roof of 33CE-37CE.

From 1935 the E fleet started to gain automatic couplers, along with strengthened underframes, anti-telescoping beams at either end, air-conditioning and rubber pads in the bogies to reduce vibration and noise. 36AE was the first pure-sitting car in the British Empire to be fitted with this system; other non-VR cars had been fitted previously, but these were all at least partial buffet or sleeping cars. Notably, 36AE had almost-full-length ducts for the air conditioning system on either side of its clerestory roof; this gave a similar appearance to the curved roof carriages.

In 1937, AE cars 21, 26 and 34 were to be converted to buffet cars of a similar internal arrangement to the previously existing buffet cars; only one buffet car was completed (and named Taggerty in 1939) due to World War 2, with the other two cars later converted to partial buffets and named Kiewa (ex 21AE) and Moyne (ex 26AE). These latter two were released to service in 1955 on the Warrnambool and Horsham lines. They were also the last E cars to be fitted with air conditioning.

By the late 1930s, the 13 air-conditioned E cars (AE 1, 3, 12, 36, BE 4, 19, 31, 34, Sleepers 1-4 and Taggerty) were rostered with one or two sitting cars to the Albury Express, one sleeping car to the Overland and three cars (Sleeper-AE-BE set) to all Mildura Overnight trains. Around this time, all the Sleepers lost their names, to be replaced with "Sleeper No.X". The three newest Sleepers became No.1 through 3, and the older sleepers occupied numbers 4 through 10; Angas, Baderloo, Barwon, Finnis, Glenelg, Onkaparinga, Tambo and Torrens were not renumbered, with many of these sold to the SAR in the early 1950s.

In 1936 the Overland cars were painted in a green, black and yellow scheme to match the express passenger engines of the South Australian Railways.

World War II and aftermath (1938-1949)

With the outbreak of the second world war, the E fleet, along with the rest of the Victorian Railways, was placed under great strain.

In 1938 Wimmera was removed from dining car service and altered to the Medical and Vision Test Car. It ran around Victoria as part of its own train with an onboard doctor, supplying medical testing facilities to Victorian Railways staff and occasionally to local towns as well.

Special purpose cars, such as the Medical and Vision Test car, the Parlor Cars and Taggerty were placed into deep storage around the state, because they were of little use to the war effort and there was no remaining capacity for special-event trains to operate. Goulburn was stored at Ballarat, for example. A number of E cars were loaned to the SAR during the war and for a time afterwards, to cover a shortfall of rolling stock on their system. Furthermore, Campaspe and Sleeper No.5 joined 12 cars of other types in a military troop train. The war's lack of maintenance also resulted in the Joint Stock vehicles being repainted from their 1936 Hawthorn Green scheme to the standard VR red from 1943.

Carriages from the joint-stock fleet were repainted to match the rest of the system during this period, because austerity measures required temporary abolition of decorative additions. In the late 1940s, 7BE, 3CE, 26CE, 1D and 4D were all spotted in red; 3D had been red in 1944 but plain black in 1945, while 1D was black between 1944-1945 then red from 1946 on.[6]

During the War and the aftermath, the South Australian Railways hired some of the E type carriages to bolster their fleet. By 1950 the cars included were 4AE, 11AE, 13AE and 14AE. The South Australian Railways' country train plan from 20 February 1944 shows 19AE-781-706-605-600-11AE-13AE as one consist forming a Victor Harbor run, and also includes reference to 4AE. It is possible that this arrangement continued until the SAR purchased the Victorian Railways' share in 7AE and 8AE, except that during the October 1952 long weekend they also hired 42BE, and in February 1954 they hired 9AE to replace a 500 class passenger car in one of their West-East express consists.[6]

The Overland, the Standard Gauge and the Blue and Gold (1949-1967)

When the new steel carriages were introduced for The Overland from 1949, the joint-stock E Type carriage fleet was split among the VR and SAR. The South Australian Railways purchased the Victorian Railways' equity in some cars and vice versa for others; by 1969 the whole fleet had been split, with Barwon and Glenelg scrapped, Baderloo sold, Torrens preserved, Angas, Dargo, Finnis, Onkaparinga and Tambo with the South Australian Railways, and Buchan, Wando, Acheron, Coliban, Inman, Pekina and Loddon with the Victorian Railways.

Little changed at the end of the war as it took many years to catch up on the backlog of maintenance. In 1949 Taggerty was restored to the Bendigo train after a seven-year absence. In 1954 Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh travelled around Australia, and when travelling around Victoria by rail their train included E cars State No.4, Goulburn and 34CE, in addition to State No.5, the Dining Car from the Spirit of Progress, Avoca and three AS cars. This made State 4, Goulburn and 34CE the first E cars to be painted in VR Blue and Gold, shortly followed by Kiewa and Moyne as mentioned above.

From the late 1950s a number of CE vans, in addition to the air conditioned sitting AE and BE cars, were painted into Blue and Gold, perhaps to reflect their higher status. The program started with 17CE, 35CE and 36CE in 1957, and the first sitting car to be treated as such was 1AE in 1959. Four years later the program was completed, with the repainting of Taggerty. Also from 1959, over 100 carriages were fitted with upgraded axle generators to strengthen their internal lighting, as well as allowing the older-style generators to be cascaded to the PL carriages. All BCE and ABE cars were altered, along with most of the Joint Stock vehicles (excluding the Joint Stock CE's), and the majority of the remaining AE and BE fleet.

With the 1962 completion of the new standard gauge line from Wodonga to Melbourne, a large portion of the S and Z fleet of steel carriages were lost to the new services on that line and the VR realised that this would create a shortfall of air conditioned rollingstock on the broad gauge. In a proactive move in 1961, Kiewa and Moyne were stripped of their restaurant fittings and altered to BG 1 and 2 with saloon-style seating through most of the carriages and three compartments each. 1BG was noted exclusively on Yarram trains from 1971 through 1986 when it was withdrawn, although traffic before this period is not known.

As the steel cars were transferred across, their old bogies were retrofitted under E type carriages. Cars fitted with four-wheel bogies were 1-4, 11, 13, 17-19, 23-25, 28, 30, 35, 36, 38, BE 4, 19, 31, 34 in addition to Kiewa, Moyne, Taggerty and CE 15, 33-37 as noted above.

Also around this time, the four air conditioned AE cars were renumbered to BE 49-52, giving the new total of BE 4, 19, 31, 34, 49, 50, 51, 52, BG 1, 2, Sleepers 1-4 and Taggerty.

In 1962, 35CE was converted to standard gauge and recoded to 1VHE (No.1, Victorian, Guard's Van, E type respectively), and it was used as a spare van for standard gauge services until 1969 when it was converted back to broad gauge. At this time it regained its original identity of 35CE. This is the only E type carriage to ever have served on a gauge other than broad.

In 1966 30CE among others had new windows with rubber surrounds fitted and the sliding doors to the guards' compartments at each end were replaced with outward-swinging doors. Although 30CE was not the only van to undergo this alteration, it is not known how many other vans were altered in the same way.

Final phase of Overland stock delivery (1967-1980)

From 1968 a handful of Joint Stock cars were repainted from VR passenger red to SAR red/brown. Known numbers are 42AE, 41BE, 42BE and 27CE.

In 1970 the Victorian Railways decided to eliminate the Second Class category from its rollingstock fleet, as part of a modernisation program. At this time all references to Second Class were eliminated; however passenger confusion resulted in new Economy decals being applied from 1972, starting with composite vehicles.

As steel sitting cars were introduced on The Overland, the sitting E type carriages were replaced, condemned and withdrawn from service. Mail van 1D had been destroyed at Glenorchy in 1923, while the 1929 Callington derailment had claimed earlier Joint Stock vehicles 5AE, 9BE and 2D.

The next to go were 7AE and 8AE, given to the South Australian Railways in 1952 after 1AJ and 2AJ entered service in their place. The pair were renumbered 550 and 551, and painted in the South Australian Railways' livery of primrose and hawthorn. In 1963 the pair were sold to the Commonwealth Railways; 500 was never used, and scrapped in 1976. Over the next few months the frame converted to a flat wagon R2604 and fitted with crew camp units S179 and S180; it was written off in 1993. 551 was converted to the Commonwealth Railways' Theaterette Car and reclassified W144. In 1985 it was further converted to OWB144 as the Community Service Car, until withdrawal in 1987. In 1988 it was purchased by the Ghan Preservation Society, and stored at Port Augusta until shifting to Alice Springs; it was sighted there on 3'6" bogies in 1996 and in 2008.

In 1959 8BE was destroyed in a crash in South Australia. The next to be withdrawn were Glenelg, Barwon, 5BE, 40BE and 43BE from the Joint Stock fleet in 1967, and these were scrapped at Islington workshops. Following that, the VR-owned E-type carriages 17AE, 11BE and 9ABE in 1970.

2BG was destroyed in a collision at Glenorchy in 1971.

41BE was condemned in 1972 and stored in 1974 awaiting scrapping, also at Islington. Around the same time, 1CE, 2CE, 3CE, 4CE, 26CE, 27CE, 3D and 4D were all withdrawn, and condemned/scrapped over the following year. 3D and 4D were withdrawn from the Overland but kept in service, and were occasionally used for mail trains to and from Port Pirie. When they were finally withdrawn from that service the bodies were scrapped, but the underframes and bogies were retained for movements around workshop sites of heavy beams and the like; the frame (with floor) and bogies from an unidentified BE carriage were also used for this purpose. The frames are also thought to have been used for beam transfers during road overbridge replacements, until one of the frames was overloaded and folded.[6]

In late 1973 the SAR banned the use of E type carriages on regular services, and when they were running they were restricted to 80 km/h (50 mph), and the VR matched this with a similar ban on Joint Stock through the VR system. This reduced the usefulness of the afflicted carriages, so in 1974, 6AE, 9AE, 10AE, 39AE, 40AE, 41AE, 42AE, 6BE, 7BE, 10BE and 42BE were condemned. 10AE, 6BE, 7BE and 10BE were scrapped at Newport Workshops in 1976, around the same time as 40AE and 42AE; the others at undetermined times and locations. 40AE had been sold in 1975, so its scrapping in 1976 is unusual.[40] The frame and bogies from 39AE were eventually sold to West Coast Railway, then when that company folded in 2004 they were onsold. 42BE was held until 1975, then placed in the Mile End Rail Museum in South Australia. In 1988 it was moved with the rest of the rollingstock to the Port Dock Station Museum, now known as the National Railway Museum.

A handful of CE vans (15 and 30-33) had experimental LP-gas heating installed in lieu of footwarmers; this new system operated by heating water that was circulated around the vans through pipes. 37CE was similarly modified in 1978, though its boiler was heated with diesel fuel rather than LP gas.

By the end of the 1970s, less than 40 E type carriages were required on a daily basis. Although the figures are guides only, Albury, Cobram, Traralgon and Warrnambool each ran with BE-BE-CE (though Warrnambool had an additional ABE), Bairnsdale with BE-CE and Ballarat with only 1 BE; Bendigo with a single CE van; Dimboola with ABE-BE-CE, Seymour with a single ABE, Swan Hill with an ABE, a CE and Taggerty, and Yarram ran with only 1BG. Only Geelong had anything more than dregs leftover, with 5 AE cars, 2 BE cars, 2 ABE cars and 2 BCE cars in service.

New Deal and the abolition of wooden rollingstock (1981-1991)

With the 'New Deal', major reductions were made in the E type fleet as new N sets were introduced to service, along with service acceleration and closing of many stations around the Victorian network. The poorest carriages were withdrawn almost immediately, and the remaining cars were organised into fixed consists; some of those included airconditioned carriages. Around this time changes to the BE fleet coding were undertaken, to better reflect their internal capacity. Cars converted from BDSE in the 1920s became BEL, while cars converted from AE and ABE carriages became BES. Notably, only a handful of these carriages were relettered, although official publications recognised the new codes. However, cars 51BE and 52BE were coded back to 51 and 52AE (not reclaiming their original numbers). It is not known if the cars held the BES code at all, although it is unlikely.

Furthermore, all the airconditioned cars received minor improvements, such as carpeting and paper headrests. Taggerty was allowed to operate on all lines, presumably as a backup vehicle for when a BRS car was unavailable. 33CE was repainted into Vicrail 'teacup' orange, being the only wooden vehicle to receive the new livery.

In 1983 the E cars used in the Train of Knowledge were refurbished, being re-released to service in May 1984. The train consisted of Sleeping cars 5-10, as well as W type dining car Avoca and the non-E-type carriages Carey, Melville and Moorabool.

The final run of non-airconditioned E sitting cars came in 1985, with the delivery of the H cars, as 14BE ran in the 7:52am Bacchus Marsh to Spencer Street pass on Friday, 30 August 1985. This left only the airconditioned sitting cars, the non-airconditioned sleeping cars in the Train Of Knowledge, the airconditioned sleeping cars kept as a backup for the Mildura overnight train, and Goulburn and Wimmera. By August 1989 the count had reduced further when all sleeping cars were withdrawn, leaving only the eight E cars equipped with air conditioning ( 4, 19, 31, 34BE, 50BES, 51AE, 52AE, 1BG) still in service.[41] The last regular train worked with E class cars was the 5:40 pm V/Line South Geelong service on 24 December 1991.[1]

Code Set No. From To Car F Car E Car D Car C Car B Car A (East end) Capacity Weight Length Changes to achieve Notes
E Informal 1988 1988 1BG 50BE 31BE 52AE 293CP
E Informal 19BE 31BE 34BE 51AE Often ran with CD van.
E Informal 4BE (?) 1BG (?) 50BE (?) 52AE Order of BE/BG cars uncertain. Often ran with CD van.

The first Informal E set - 19BE-31BE-34BE-51AE - was sandwiched between van CD7 and Norman for the Albury trip on Sat 14 November 1987, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Spirit of Progress.[42] Otherwise, the two sets were generally only used for Geelong weekday peak runs.

Preservation era (1991-current)

1BG was retained by the Public Transport Cooperation for testing of new safeworking systems. The other seven sitting cars were withdrawn and stored, along with Wimmera when it was decided to use local doctors rather than running the medical and vision test train. Goulburn was kept in service but saw little to no regular use, and in 1994 it was allocated to Steamrail. Otherwise, by the 1990s the only E type carriages still of any relevance to V/Line Passenger were of the Classic Carriage fleet; 2AE, 30AE and Yarra.

In 1989, carriages 2AE, 30AE, 1BE, 14BE, 1BCE and Yarra were listed as restored to the dark red with yellow dots scheme by the Seymour Loco Steam Preservation Group, with 26BE a potential addition to the consist.[43]

By the early 1990s V/Line declared no interest whatsoever in the wooden carriages. As listed above, the E type cars have been dispersed among various preservation groups and private owners.

59 E type carriages remain, around half statically preserved and the rest either operational or undergoing restoration. Going back to the 1910 codes, 9 AE cars survive along with 5 ABE cars, 17 BE cars, 8 BDSE cars and 3 CE vans, 1 D van, 11 Sleeping cars, Wimmera, Goulburn, Campaspe, Yarra and State Car No.4.

Additionally, 16BE has been restored as a café at Seville -

Model railways

HO Scale


As of March 2012, only HO scale plastic models of the E-series carriages are available (although there have been brass models released in the past). Kits produced by Steam Era Models can be kitbashed into AE, ABE and BE types and End of the Line Hobbies in South Australia are selling made-up kits plus BCE and Sleeping varieties, while Auscision Models have released a series of "ready-to-run" carriages in VR Heritage Brown (AE, ABE, BE, CE), VR Red (AE with 4-wheel bogies, ABE, BE) and VR Blue (CE only). They are sold as single carriages ($125.00 ea) or as sets of four ($450.00 ea) and arranged by age, with sets from 1921–1954, 1954–1963, 1963–1971 and 1971-1985.[44]

A second run is expected to be released in June 2016, though manufacturing price increases have lifted a single carriage to $140.00ea and a four-car set to $550.00ea.[45]

VPS01 (2012) 1921-1954 04AE 05ABE 01BE 18CE
VPS02 (2012) 1954-1963 18AE 06ABE 03BE 19CE
VPS03 (2012) 1963-1971 23AE 12ABE 23BE 24CE
VPS04 (2012) 1971-1981 28AE 16ABE 25BE 29CE
VPC01 (2012) 1921-1954 02AE
VPC02 (2012) 1921-1954 03ABE
VPC03 (2012) 1921-1954 02BE
VPC04 (2012) 1921-1954 05CE
VPC05 (2012) 1954-1963 17AE
VPC06 (2012) 1963-1983 24AE
VPC07 (2012) 1954-1971 18BE
VPC08 (2012) 1971-1985 24BE
VPC09 (2012) 1954-1971 07ABE
VPC10 (2012) 1971-1981 08ABE
VPC11 (2012) 1954-1984 09CE
VPC12 (2012) 1954-1984 11CE
VPC13 (2012) 1954-1974 V&SA 10AE
VPC14 (2012) 1954-1974 V&SA 42AE
VPC15 (2012) 1954-1974 V&SA 06BE
VPC16 (2012) 1954-1974 V&SA 07BE


Trainbuilder has produced a brass range of the rarer E Type carriages, retailing at $475 to $575 each depending on type, plus postage.

  • For $475 – 35CE, 36CE, 37CE and 1VHE in VR Blue/Gold, or 33CE in VicRail "Teacup".
  • For $575 - Clerestory Sleeping Cars: V&SAR Passenger Red - Baderloo, Inman, Coliban and Pekina; SAR Angus (sic), Finnis; VR Passenger Red - Wando, Acheron, Coliban, Inman, Pekina, Loddon and in VR Blue & Gold, Sleeping Car No.5.
  • For $575 - Air Conditioned Sitting Cars (VR Blue/Gold) - 51AE, 52AE, 1BG, 51BE, 52BE

Steam Era Models

Steam Era Models produces a kit for the E type carriages, utilising components from the W type kits and new, six-wheel bogies. Construction requires something of a kitbash, with the sides, roof and underframe from two W cars merged to form one E car shell. As of 2016, the kits sell for $60 each.[46]

Strath Hobbies

Strath Hobbies, over the years, has produced a range of E type kits utilising a mix of new resin components, custom decals ($6.00 for text, $10.00 for lines) and raw parts from the Steam Era Models range, depending on the type.[47] The range includes airconditioning units ($7.50) and curved roof units ($12.00), along with (prices correct as at 2016), and complete kits for the mail storage cars D1 and D2 ($49.95). Previously the range included other types, like the dining, restaurant and parlor cars.


  1. Lee, Robert (2007). The Railways of Victoria 1854-2004. Melbourne University Publishing Ltd. pp. 142–143. ISBN 978-0-522-85134-2.
  2. Lee, p.122
  3. Lee, p.160
  4. Bray, Vincent & Gregory, Preserved Rolling Stock of Victoria, 2013, ISBN 978-0-9806806-4-5, p.101-102
  5. Overland
  6. Newsrail February 1997 p.57-58, letter by David Parsons.
  7. Bray, Vincent & Gregory, Preserved Rolling Stock of Victoria, 2013, ISBN 978-0-9806806-4-5, p.136
  8. Bray, Vincent & Gregory, Steel & Special Coaching Stock of Victoria, 2009, ISBN 978-0-9775056-8-5, p.128 & 265-266
  9. Bray, Vincent & Gregory, Steel & Special Coaching Stock of Victoria, 2009, ISBN 978-0-9775056-8-5, p.176 & 199
  10. Bray, Vincent & Gregory, Steel & Special Coaching Stock of Victoria, 2009, ISBN 978-0-9775056-8-5, p.199
  11. Bray, Vincent & Gregory, Preserved Rolling Stock of Victoria, 2013, ISBN 978-0-9806806-4-5, p.117
  14. Bray, Vincent & Gregory, Preserved Rolling Stock of Victoria, 2013, ISBN 978-0-9806806-4-5, p.177
  15. Victorian Railways, General Appendix to the Book of Rules and Regulations and to the Working Time Table, 1 December 1936, p.384
  16. Bray, Vincent & Gregory, Preserved Rolling Stock of Victoria, 2013, ISBN 978-0-9806806-4-5, p.111
  17. Bray, Vincent & Gregory, Preserved Rolling Stock of Victoria, 2013, ISBN 978-0-9806806-4-5, p.114
  21. Bray, Vincent & Gregory, Steel & Special Coaching Stock of Victoria, 2009, ISBN 978-0-9775056-8-5, p.142-144, 162-165, 184-185, 289, 291
  22. Bray, Vincent & Gregory, Steel & Special Coaching Stock of Victoria, 2009, ISBN 978-0-9775056-8-5, p.226, 236, 241
  23. Bray, Vincent & Gregory, Steel & Special Coaching Stock of Victoria, 2009, ISBN 978-0-9775056-8-5, p.201 & 292
  24. Bray, Vincent & Gregory, Steel & Special Coaching Stock of Victoria, 2009, ISBN 978-0-9775056-8-5, p.258
  25. Bray, Vincent & Gregory, Preserved Rolling Stock of Victoria, 2013, ISBN 978-0-9806806-4-5, p.157
  26. Chris Drymalik. ""Murray" - Victorian Railways Parlor Car". ComRails. Retrieved 23 December 2008.
  27. Newsrail June 1983 p.156
  28. Chris Drymalik. "Yarra". ComRails. Retrieved 23 December 2008.
  29. Bray, Vincent & Gregory, Preserved Rolling Stock of Victoria, 2013, ISBN 978-0-9806806-4-5, p.137, 153 & 168
  30. Comrails
  31. Newsrail May 1997 p.134
  32. Bray, Vincent & Gregory, Steel & Special Coaching Stock of Victoria, 2009, ISBN 978-0-9775056-8-5, p.226 & 236
  35. Chris Drymalik (8 June 2016). ""Onkaparinga" - V&SAR Joint Stock Wooden Sleeping Car". ComRails. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  36. Chris Drymalik (8 June 2016). ""Dargo" - V&SAR Joint Stock Wooden Sleeping Car". ComRails. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  38. bed and breakfast
  39. Port Dock
  41. Lee, p.254
  42. Newsrail March 1989 p95


This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.