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Goods guard’s vans (fourgon marchandises?)


Nearholmer
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Can I please pick the brains of SNCF experts?

 

Did goods trains on branch and secondary lines convey any sort of “guard’s van” during the 1950/60s?

 

I’m working on the assumption (bad idea!) that by that stage all trains were continuously braked, so didn’t need a brake-van as such, but presumably trains conveyed a guard, and possibly an additional travelling Shunter if there was a lot of picking-up and dropping-off to be done en route. If no van, did they ride on the loco? Did it have to have two cabs to permit that? So, what if it was of a class that didn’t.

 

And, if there was such a van, where in the train was it marshalled?

 

This feels like the sort of subject that might have hundreds of rule-changes, and TU agreements, tangled up in it!

 

Many thanks in advance.

 

Kevin

Edited by Nearholmer
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  • Nearholmer changed the title to Goods guard’s vans (fourgon marchandises?)

These vans seemed to be between a 'Road Van', and a brake van as we understand it. I saw one arriving at Digne-les-Bains, in the Provencal Alps, in 1980. It carried a weighing scale for the Chéf-du-Train to weigh any parcels or sundries. It seemed very much to be on the 'Commercial' end of the spectrum, rather than the 'Operational' one. It's the only time I've seen one in use. It had arrived behind the loco; I don't know if the loco transferred it to the other end

A shunter, as well as an aide-du-traction ('Second Man', main function looking for the driver's coffee/ petit rouge) would travel in the loco cab; French single-cab locos generally have fairly commodious cabs. 

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The brake vans in France were also called "Fourgon de Queue" which would mean that they generally were at the end of a train. A couple of models I have of these cars do have a tail light. The drawing you show, shows a standard type that is modelled in H0 by Jouef, SMCF, Makete etc. Pictures of the diffrent models can be seen in my e-book on this type of cars that has the title "The end of the train": http://sncf231e.nl/caboose/

Regards

Fred

 

Edited by sncf231e
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Many thanks Fred,

 

The tail lamps are truly the clue I missed!

 

I'm thinking that my short SNCF goods train needs one, which is how the questions arose.

 

The GMP one with opening doors is clearly the one to aim for, but I doubt I shall find one of those*, and I don't like either the JEP or Serie Hornby ones, so I might have to resort to making my own. ETS make nice Swiss ones, but have neglected France.

 

One that your book doesn't mention in the Triang TT one, which was clearly based on the same prototype as the VB kit.

 

Many memories of toy trains past in your book.

 

Kevin

 

*Oh dear! The internet is my enemy! I found one almost instantly, and bought it for what was probably an inflated price.

Edited by Nearholmer
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French freight trains absolutely did convey a guards van (the M being the most modern standard type seen) in the 1950s, perhaps gradually less so in the late 1960s onwards, but they can be seen in photos published in the various 'classic' books featuring steam trains  with photos from the likes of Marc Dahlstrom, Yves Broncard etc

 

one can be seen here next to the loco

https://www.cparama.com/forum/cartes2018/1526050462-ZLocoSNCF-141-C-83.jpg

 

 

Some lasted into the early 1970s as far as I recall 

Edited by Gordonwis
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Hi Kevin

When brakes were operated by hand, usually by several brakemen distributed the length of the train, they had vigies (shelters) with a screw brake on a proportion of wagons so, though the last (or almost last) wagon was supposed to have a manned screw brake that didn't necessarily mean that the Fourgon M was at the rear of the train.

According to several articles in RMF and Loco-Revue, often accompanying reviews of models of them,  in the post-war era they were generally placed either at the front or the back of the train but that was more to facilitate shunting and a TOM (Train Omnibus Marchandises, equivalent to a British pick-up goods) might well have a few wagons beyond the Fourgon.

The SNCF "standard  fourgon M typre 1952 in your drawing, which is from Loco-Revue of May 1961. had three compartments. On the left in the diagram was the crew "foyer" with an inward opening "stable"  door on each side, from there was an internal door to the area with  the brake handle, tables and chairs, toilet compartment and a coal stove for heating. On the right hand side with an internal door from the "office" and a slding exterior door on each side was the goods compartment able to carry 3 t of packages (colis) or sundries.

Earlier fourgons such as the 1931 PO type featured in the December 1986 Loco-Revue had just one internal space for the packages and crew with the conducteur's desk and  a raised brake position brake and "observation lantern"in the corner. With the cargo and the crew in the same space and with only the side loading doors for access they could be quite dangerous. 

 

I have a copy of the rule book  Instruction sur la composition des trains from 1947 and the rules are needless to say fairly complicated. There is no actual mention of a fourgon de queue but there was a requirement for a screw brake at the rear of the train in one of the last four wagons  on gradients up to 1.6 %, the last two for steeper gradients up to 2.5% (1 in 40) and on the last vehicle for anything steeper. Where passengers were carried (as in mixed trains "MV" which in France were classified as goods trains) the handbrake had to be in the last passenger vehicle or behind it. The conducteur was responsible for ensuring that the brake was manned by an agent  but that didn't apply to trains up to 20 "vehicle units"* , provided the continuous brake was working on the vehicle with the hand brake or on one of those behind it. In that case the handbrake could be left unmanned  so the fourgon could be elsewhere in the train.

 

Given that in later years- till they disappeared entirely- the fourgon M seems to have often been at the front of far longer trains, like probably the one in the photo linked to by Gordon, this rule must have been relaxed. On passenger trains the fourgons normally were at the front and, with wooden bodied stock, there had to be one (or a fourgon compartment or 3 locked passenger compartments) between the locomotive and any passengers (which included TPO staff but not drovers, wranglers or the Postal agent (facteur) accompanying mail that wasn't being sorted en route .

 

Did I mention that the Reglement Général de Sécurité was complicated?  They did tend to look like they were written by lawyers for use in the court case after an incident rather than by cheminots.  

 

 * Ordinary (Petit Vitesse) fixed axle goods wagon or fourgon 1 unit,

fast  (Grand Vitesse) goods wagon or fourgon  1.5 units,

bogie goods wagon or fixed axle coach 2 units,

bogie coach   3 units.

80 vehicle units was the maximum length for goods trains  unless they were running from gares (stations or marshalling yards) able to measure that they weren't exceeding the then maximum length of 750m (loco included)  for goods trains.

 

Edited by Pacific231G
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Ferrovissime (one of Loco-Revue's titles) did a hors-série  in 2017 Les Trains de Marchandises sur les Lignes Secondaires which, if you're interested in French goods working is well worth getting (L-R have very efficient mail order) as it says quite a lot about how these trains were worked.

It includes plenty of photos of trains and it appears that, even allowing for photographers tending to favour the  front end of the train with the loco, the fourgon M  (often referred to as the fourgon frein or brake van)  does seem to have rather more often been at the front than at the rear though one of them was in the middle (presumably as a result of how thtat particular train was shunted).  By the mid 1930s continuous brakes were more or less universal (unlike in Britain) so the need for the fourgon to be  in queue - i.e. bringing up the rear- and for trains to carry additional brakemen was disappearing (The raised brakemen's vigies were also not safely compatible with the growing overhead electrification so I should probable remove them from those items of my own stock that have them.)

 

The book does say that, by the 1960s, fourgon freins were still being used on local goods trains but, by then, had disappeared from those running directly between marshalling yards which would not have required inermediate shunting nor the associated "office work" by the chef de train. There are one or two photos of diesel hauled trains with fourgons but, by and large, they seemed to largely disappear with the end of steam, possibly  because the guard could now travel in the cab and the sundries traffic typically carried in the fourgon M's 3t cargo space (though it  was sometimes enough for a separate ordinary van) was rapidly declining even though pick-up goods trains lasted a lot longer in France than in Britain.

 

A lot of the later SNCF 'standard' fourgon Ms (and some of the earlier pre SNCF ones) did of course end up as 'departmental' stock like the one  in Stephan's post. One thing I did notice in the photos was how clean and freshly painted many of the fourgons looked compared with the rest of the wagons in the train. That may have been a result of their change of livery from dull brown to red.

 

Edited by Pacific231G
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19 hours ago, Pacific231G said:

 

 

 by the 1960s, fourgon freins were still being used on local goods trains but, by then, had disappeared from those running directly between marshalling yards which would not have required inermediate shunting nor the associated "office work" by the chef de train.

 

 

 

This absolutely ties in with what I logged on today to say!

 

Rather than make myself sound stupid, I went away after my last post to check what I recalled was correct, and that was that the last* revenue steam trains in France - on CFTA Franche Comte - ran with Fourgons right up to 1975. A quick check in a Dahlstrom book 'French Stean in the 60s' was all I needed to do to confirm the foregoing, but, thinking about this thread I looked at all the other freight shots and crucially in the same book there are some phots of the mid-late 1960s of longer distance freights hauled by 141Rs seemingly without fourgons. These were either block trains or trains almost certainly travelling direct between main marshalling yards.     

 

* the very last trains up to September 1975  - steel coil from St Colombe sur Seine, were block trains without fourgon so that agrees with the above notion

 

 

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On 29/11/2021 at 00:22, Gordonwis said:

 

 

This absolutely ties in with what I logged on today to say!

 

Rather than make myself sound stupid, I went away after my last post to check what I recalled was correct, and that was that the last* revenue steam trains in France - on CFTA Franche Comte - ran with Fourgons right up to 1975. A quick check in a Dahlstrom book 'French Stean in the 60s' was all I needed to do to confirm the foregoing, but, thinking about this thread I looked at all the other freight shots and crucially in the same book there are some phots of the mid-late 1960s of longer distance freights hauled by 141Rs seemingly without fourgons. These were either block trains or trains almost certainly travelling direct between main marshalling yards.     

 

* the very last trains up to September 1975  - steel coil from St Colombe sur Seine, were block trains without fourgon so that agrees with the above notion

 

 

Hello Gordon

Though the L-R book on trains marchandises was a bit vague about when fourgons freins stopped being used (and there was -surprisingly- no chapter on them. It does seem that they continued on local goods trains till the end of steam which of course came later to the CFTA than SNCF. That makes sense as the cab of a steam loco was no place for the guard . There is a side on photo in the Cabri book on the 140C of a double-headed, so presumably quite long,  goods train in the Verdun area in 1971 and that does have a standard SNCF fourgon M complete with the  customary guard leaning on the rail in the open sliding door of the (empty) cargo section. What I can't figure is where the chef de train/guard was accomodated in block or triage-triage trains when they were steam hauled and didn't include a fourgon but, as you say, there are images of such trains.

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23 hours ago, Pacific231G said:

There is a side on photo in the Cabri book on the 140C of a double-headed, so presumably quite long,  goods train in the Verdun area in 1971 and that does have a standard SNCF fourgon M complete with the  customary guard leaning on the rail in the open sliding door of the (empty) cargo section. 

 

These trains were legendary (and I'm not quite sure why on our family travels between UK and family in Geneva never diverted to see the spectacle) and appear in nearly all the French steam albums due to their spectacular nature. A quirk of geography meant that loaded trains of Lime (Chaux) from Dugny sur Meuse heading East to iron and steel works in Lorraine and the Saarland needed to get up the very steep Tavannes incline, necessitating doubled headed or top and tail 140Cs. (still needs powerful diesel traction to this day). Despite being block trains I wonder if the guard was retained for safety purposes?

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12 hours ago, Gordonwis said:

 

These trains were legendary (and I'm not quite sure why on our family travels between UK and family in Geneva never diverted to see the spectacle) and appear in nearly all the French steam albums due to their spectacular nature. A quirk of geography meant that loaded trains of Lime (Chaux) from Dugny sur Meuse heading East to iron and steel works in Lorraine and the Saarland needed to get up the very steep Tavannes incline, necessitating doubled headed or top and tail 140Cs. (still needs powerful diesel traction to this day). Despite being block trains I wonder if the guard was retained for safety purposes?

I can't quite believe that they weren't but it would be interesting to know. There was some crew reduction to two (driver and guard) for trains léger (light passenger trains) far earlier provided that the guard could access the cab to stop the train if the driver became indisposed.

According to the 1947 régléments (Composition des Trains) Electric and Diesel trains normally had a driver and an assistant driver as well as a guard but the assistant driver could be dispensed with  so long as the guard rode either in the cab or in the adjoining fourgon or passenger compartment with access to the cab and was able to stop the train. If there was a deadman's feature then the guard could be anywhere in the train.   There is though a note that if the service didn't require a guard then the second person on the train could be from the traction department. Rather confusingly, the rules refer to the driver of an electric train as un conducteur électricien rather than mécanicien and the guard as the conducteur. However, in the section on normal (i.e. steam hauled) goods trains there is required to be a conducteur in addition to the footplate crew and no mention of that not being required.

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Deeply buried in an archive somewhere, there is probably the equivalent of sectional appendix setting out how those trains were crewed.

 

The route didn’t by any chance have continuous track-circuiting, did it? Or, were the locos fitted with radio?

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I've been looking through all my steam albums and lots of Dahlstrom shots include freight trains with guards vans - one has no less than three people in it leaning on the safety bar enjoying the air - and both loco crew chaps are visible too, making five staff on one train! 

 

Reminds me a bit of the end of steam traction in northern Italy, when on passenger, steam locos with two staff (driver and fireman) were replaced with diesel locos - still with two staff (driver and second man), but also with a steam heat van staffed by two more...

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18 hours ago, Gordonwis said:

I've been looking through all my steam albums and lots of Dahlstrom shots include freight trains with guards vans - one has no less than three people in it leaning on the safety bar enjoying the air - and both loco crew chaps are visible too, making five staff on one train! 

 

Reminds me a bit of the end of steam traction in northern Italy, when on passenger, steam locos with two staff (driver and fireman) were replaced with diesel locos - still with two staff (driver and second man), but also with a steam heat van staffed by two more...

No doubt with a separate guard as well somewhere else in the train- I don't know if the SNCF's "cocotte-minute" steam heating vans required someone to operate them.  

The joke of all those guards and assistants leaning on the safety rail was that SNCF's "Standard" fourgon M was specifically designed with a "lobby" at one end with stable (i.e. split) doors on each side (it's on the left hand side of the plan view in the 1960 documentaire  precisely so that the guard would not need to lean, somewhat dangerously, on the safety bar in order to keep a look out. 

Looking again at Loco-Revue's "100 Compositions" hors serie there are ,from the 1960s, a block train of coal from Nord-pas de Calais coalfield for the Paris power stations hauled by a 141R from 1967 with no fourgon, several general goods trains with fourgons mostly steam but also diesel and mixed trains (MVs) both with and without a fourgon M and those without didn't have a fourgon compartment in their passenger section (often just one coach). So, there doesn't seem to have been a definite cut-off date nor any obvious rule about which trains did or did not require one.  

Edited by Pacific231G
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My fourgon has arrived. I suspect it might really be a passenger train van, but I’m assuming it’s been demoted to goods service.

 

A lovely model, which will needing very little work to conserve it. It’s just exactly the style I like best: heavy tin; a toy, but very much at the ‘model’ end of that scale; proportionate, and just enough detail.

 

C0817D23-C338-4C08-878C-A5C5582D1499.jpeg.805f87b3d277821c81c7499ae1739c00.jpeg

 

The other good thing is that the parcel came with all these stamps. Basically, a millennium of French cultural history on a box! Is La Poste re-issuing old-style stamps, or has the sender raided his stamp collection?

 

D38B0152-1388-4A6E-8DEA-95FBBBF11019.jpeg.79884371c8200b5239aa5d525e807b64.jpeg

Edited by Nearholmer
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I do not know whether it is a fourgon for passenger trains or goods trains; Clive Lamming (who wrote a large number of books about French real, model and toy trains) has catalogued it under goods wagons. I run it with a passenger train with cars using the same frame/lenght:

P1140325.JPG.8796e416db764fdb9e0b6327eced8aa7.JPG

 

 

(I have had the same large number of stamps from a French ebay seller a number of times, it might be the same seller.)

 

Regards

Fred

 

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Fred

 

I may have you to thank for another habit that I can’t really afford with this one, because having seen the van in your book, I secured one, and it has so impressed me with the quality of GMP’s work that I now hanker after further of their goods wagons, and the 4W coaches …….. and that will lead to the ‘need’ for a steam passenger train engine, and one of those lovely JEP three-section railcars that so remind me of metre-gauge ones ……. and so will go disappear the funds that I’m supposed to accumulating to get a big, ugly dent in my car fixed!

 

Write out one hundred times: I do not need to collect French toy trains.

 

Kevin

Edited by Nearholmer
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There's obviously something about French trains that makes people use large numbers of stamps. When I bought a clockwork Hornby Bugatti Autorail  from an eBay seller in San Francisco a few years ago, it arrived with the box covered in assorted US stamps. At the time, I had a co-worker whose husband collected US stamps, so I donated the stamp-covered parts of the box to him. Apparently, the stamps were of various dates, some dating back to the early 1970s...

Gordon

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On 09/12/2021 at 10:34, sncf231e said:

I do not know whether it is a fourgon for passenger trains or goods trains; Clive Lamming (who wrote a large number of books about French real, model and toy trains) has catalogued it under goods wagons. I run it with a passenger train with cars using the same frame/lenght:

P1140325.JPG.8796e416db764fdb9e0b6327eced8aa7.JPG

 

 

(I have had the same large number of stamps from a French ebay seller a number of times, it might be the same seller.)

 

Regards

Fred

 

Given its green livery and the two fourgon doors, I'd say that it's a representation of a "fourgon D"

(i.e a passenger fourgon) rather than a "fourgon M" which were normally grey, brown or red. These were normally at the head end of passenger trains (but could be at both ends) 

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