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I'm sorry if this issue has been discussed elsewhere but I've never really got the hang of RMweb's search facility.

 

Given the introduction of Hornby's new Collett coaches next year and that we already have the Hawksworth coaches and Bachman's 60ft(ish) Colletts I wonder if it would be useful to have somewhere to discuss "standard" or perhaps prototypical GWR coach formations.

 

I have heard reference made to certain standard formations (C and D spring to mind) but I also know that the GWR was a law unto itself, but were there rules that were followed or was it a free for all.

 

There has been discussion in the past as to whether a brake coach was required at each end (although I can't find it now) but I do wonder for example if a train had a dining car, was this always in the middle. If so presumably if it was removed during the journey as I think some were did this mean splitting the train and taking the coach out, or did it just close for the remainder of the journey.

 

If a strengthener coach was needed because of increased demand was this simply stuck on the front or back of a train. 

 

I do appreciate that with all things knowledge of the prototype is essential, but if you are modelling a freelance location and want to add some prototypical coach rakes or carriage shunting into our operations does anyone know what a "correct" train would look like or do I just stick coaches behind the engine in any old order?

 

As someone who whilst now 45 is too young to remember how a proper railway was run, all help is gratefully received.

 

regards

 

Dean

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The only fixed formations were usually branch or suburban trains, ost other trains were formed by reference to the carriage working notice and each train was marshalled by what stock was available to meet criteria of that. The position of catering vehicles would depend on how far the portion of the train it was marshalled in. If it was going all the way it would be near the centre of that portion otherwise it could be towards the front or rear if being attached or detached en-route.

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"Train Formations & Carriage Workings of the Great Western Railway" by W.S. Becket (Xpress Publishing, isbn 1901056082) is worth a look. To quote from the back cover of the book, "this book heralds a new dimension in railway research by listing: 1. The formation of all main line services on the GWR with a description of each train. 2. The working cycle of each vehicle showing what carriages did prior to being formed in a particular train and what they did subsequently. 3. The marshalling of coaching stock at the major locations on the GW system. 4. A complete set of carriage workings. 5. Bradshaws Guide (GW portion)."

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Perhaps the most important point to bear in mind is that before the days of unit trains and fixed formations the railways tried to match demand and supply of seats as closely as possible.  (Today's railway arguably falls lamentably short of that objective!)  An example of this is the through portion between Paddington and Kingsbridge which used to run on summer Saturdays in the 1950s.  The outward trip had three coaches, the return six.

 

Rob mentions the M set.  This was quite common on the [G]WR, comprising brake third, third, composite and brake third.  Typically this would give 24 first class seats and 152 third class.  The sort of duties they worked were those taken over by Cross-Country dmu sets from 1958.  When they were new they might well have been formed from the same design of stock but failures do happen and stock gets remarshalled.

 

Rovex, you could usefully browse through some carriage working programmes to get more of an idea of how things were done.  A fine collection may be accessed through Robert Carroll's loco-hauled coaching stock Yahoo group which is well worth joining but bear in mind that the survival of any such document is pure luck and there are not all that many around from GW days - unless you know different!

 

Cbris

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The book referenced by melmoth above is good for the intended formations in the '20s. If you can find a copy (out of print), Dragonwheel Books published a reprint of the 1937-38 winter through train carriage workings, a book I find very useful.

 

Here are some sample formations from the '37/'38 workings (the 10:30am is the Riviera):

B = van end leading

A = van end trailing

nX = not on day(s) n

nO = only on day(s) n

+ = not gangwayed

Van Third(x) = x third class compartments

 

Formations2.xlsx

 

Adrian

 

Edit: A couple of notes:

The last van on the 4.7pm Crewe-Bristol is one of the two GWR 6w Palethorpes vans (2801/2802),

60' GWR coaches are likely the early '30s Riviera stock, as the Riviera formation is primarily Centenary stock (the first 8 coaches at least).

Edited by Adrian Wintle
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It is perhaps worth mentioning that the Carriage Working Programmes are only one part of the jigsaw as they only give the booked formation of a train.  According to demand - noting the point made by ChrisF - there were then further steps which influenced what would actually happen on the day.  the first of these was the Weekly (Special Traffic) Notice which would be the first source of any alterations and additions to, or even deletions from, the booked formation.  What went into teh weekly notice was based on historical data and views about traffic patterns plus known diary events although some of the latter, e.g. Henley Regatta, Swindon Works Trip, would generate their own special notices.

 

Once that level of notice had been issued there would also be daily notices making alterations at shorter term - these tended to be additional strengthenings (i.e additional vehicles) but might occasionally involve cancellations of alterations to stuff previously advised in the weekly notice.  In some cases there could be alterations made at even shorter notice which would be advised out by wire (telegram in non-GWR speak).

 

Finally, and not forgetting that spare coaches were held all over the place, a coach might even be added on the day if loadings were found to exceed what had been planned for.

 

All of these changes would specify no more than the type of vehicle or number of seats for whatever Class of travel.  The depots would simply use whatever suitable vehicles they had to hand and - route availability aside (plus not using 'special' vehicles) wouldn't care who designed and built the vehicle to whatever diagram or whether or not its appearance or window height or whatever matched the rest of the train.

 

So if you actually want to know what was on aparticular train on any particular day you either need a photo or copies of all the relevant notices, wires and local log books - or you just follow the Coach Working Programme and ask anyone who says you've got it wrong for their copies of the notices etc ;)

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So really taking on board what stationmaster says, if not modeling a specific train or station its a matter of anything goes.

 

So I start with thinking about where my mythical train is coming from and going to and decide how many seats it would need (second and first) and make up my train accordingly. Possibly adding some coaches that might have been added on at a station along the way, perhaps to be taken off before it gets to its final destination.

 

So for example on my layout the 10.50 from Paddington to Worford, which passes through my station of Brackhampton needs five coaches for the full journey from P to W, comprised of two 3rd brakes, a composite and two all thirds. There is a dining car which is taken off at B, and has a two additional coaches (an all third and brake composite), which form z portion of the train which is detached at B and added to the next train to Milchester, forming as they do a through portion from P to M. The formation might look like

 

Brake 3rd, all third, all third, composite, brake 3rd, dining car, all third, brake composite.

 

The coaches will be whatever is available, collett, hawmksworth, dreadnought or concertina (if I can build the last two to a decent standard).

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Because my girlfriend was a student in Coventry, and I studied in Liverpool, my use of the northern end of the GW always fascinated.

Only about 4 coaches slunk off from Birkenhead Woodsiide behind a LM 4MT. These (frequently Colletts or Hawksworths) reversed in a bay at Chester General where the train commenced being a longer express behind a Castle. A further serious transformation took place at Wolverhampton Low Level when a King took charge. By the time I stepped off at Leamington I walked tall as it now felt one of the principal Western Region expresses.

Since I couldn't afford the breakfast, I was never sure whether the Restaurant car was attached at Shrewsbury or Wolverhampton.

 

Later when working for Salop County Council, I often enjoyed eating my butty lunch on Shrewsbury station. I watched Restaurant cars being attached/detached here.

The main lunchtime event was always the arrival of the down Cambrian Coast Express  . A waiting shiny Manor would attach to the far end of the prestigious Mark 1 chocolate and cream rake, the Castle would come off the front, and the train would reverse out to Welshpool all within a few minutes.  

 

dhig

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Hi Rovex

If you can get hold of a copy, the late Frank Dyer (Borchester) wrote a really useful series of articles for MRJ on model railway operation and the third part in MRJ no. 32 (1989) was on pasenger train formations. Quote "Railway companies did not form their trains out of any old jumble of coaches, though some of them may have looked that way at times"

 

Amongst other things he goes into where and why restaurant cars would be placed in a train which might be near the middle but might be right at the end and the possible positioning of brakes.

 

I've been trying to find out- for obvious reasons- how short a regular train could be that still might reasonably have a restaurant car.* I did wonder whether yours with just one composite and a few 1st class compartments in a brake composite would justify one but, from the sample formations quoted by Adrian it does seem just possible and there's noting like a restaurant car for making your express that much more important.   

 

*Who would find believable a model of a major express consisting of just two sleeping cars, a restaurant and a brake van?  In winter that could though be entire consist of the Istanbul section of the Orient Express

Edited by Pacific231G
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I think one of the things I was trying to ascertain was whether the GWR had pre-arranged groups of coaches which would stay together, barring failures. I believe that this may have been the case on other regions/railways, and then if a larger train was needed then either an extra coach or coaches would be added, or another pre-arranged group. This doesn't seem to have been the case on the GWR from what I am picking up from posts. With trains being mae up of whatever individual coaches were available.

 

I expect however that newer stock was preferred to older if it was available, with some coaches only seeing service when nothing else was available or at times of great demand. I appreciate the position was different on branches were it was not unknown for an old coach to be pensioned off.

 

With regard to restaurant cars and their position in a train it makes sense if the coach is to be removed for it to be marshalled at the front or back, or between two splitting portions of a train, whereas if it was to stay with the train from beginning to end that it be marshalled somewhere in the middle. For example the South Wales train which at one time was made up of 7 70 foot carriages had three coaches either side of the restaurant car. the RC remaining with the train from beginning to end.

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I think one of the things I was trying to ascertain was whether the GWR had pre-arranged groups of coaches which would stay together, barring failures. I believe that this may have been the case on other regions/railways, and then if a larger train was needed then either an extra coach or coaches would be added, or another pre-arranged group. This doesn't seem to have been the case on the GWR from what I am picking up from posts. With trains being mae up of whatever individual coaches were available.

 

 

Yes, there were pre-arranged groups. You can see that in the formations that I posted, and even better in the book I got them from, as it has the return workings indicated.

 

As an example, the 1:10pm Crewe-Plymouth has a BTK-CK-BTK-RC set that ran alternate days with a corresponding LMS set. Barring failures, these would be the same coaches each day (they ran in the reverse working on the other days).

 

Adrian

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Thanks Adrian,

 

I'm sorry if I didn't make myself clear,  I am aware that certain trains, or sections of trains used the same stock day in day out. I understand for example there was, I think a Bournemouth train from Snow Hill (excuse me if I get the precise details wrong), which one day was GWR stock, the next day was Southern, with the GWR stock making the return trip that day, for use the following day.

 

The point I was trying to make was that they wouldn't usually be say a three coach formation which always stayed together, moving between services as a fixed group. Rather like some of the Southern EMUs used to work as fixed formations, with perhaps another EMU stuck on the back if needed.

 

I'm probably showing my woeful knowledge of other networks here, so please forgive me whilst I take cover.

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No, it wouldn't be fixed, numbered sets like the Southern, but it was likely that the same coaches stayed together as a group for extended periods. There wasn't the concept of sets that stayed together over different services because, mostly, the coaching stock on through trains only worked one service a day, going out on the first day and returning on the next. This meant that the same stock was available for the next run of the service and, barring failures and strengthening, the same groups of coaches would stay together.

 

An extreme example of this is the 1935 Centenary coaches. The GWR only built two trainsets and a few spare coaches (26 in all, covering 7* diagrams). The trainsets were then used as the Up and Down trains each day.

 

*actually 6 but with LH and RH variants of one.

 

Adrian

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A qualification to Adrian's post above, if I may.

 

Yes, the same coaches stayed together for extended periods in many cases, usually because there was no need to remarshal them - as in if it ain't broke don't fix it.  If there was a need for remarshalling, be it to deal with a failure or some other pressing reason, then it took place.

 

I mentioned the M sets in a previous posting.  Some operated cyclic diagrams extending over up to five days, the previous and next workings being specified in the cwp.

 

Finally for now, a couple of restaurant car workings to give Rovex some tenuous hope.  These date from the summer of 1948:

 

8.45 am Paddington to Weymouth -   Brake composite and restaurant car Paddington to Weymouth Town, main train BTK TK TK CK CK TK TK BTK Paddington to Weymouth Quay

 

9.15 am Paddington to Taunton - Ref Van [heck, what's that?] Tuesdays only, Paddington to Taunton, forward to Plymouth. BTK TK CK CK TK BTK Paddington to Taunton, Buffet TK BTK Paddington to Weston super Mare, CK TK TK BTK Paddington to Cheltenham detached at Swindon.

 

Chris

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Thanks Adrian,

 

I'm sorry if I didn't make myself clear,  I am aware that certain trains, or sections of trains used the same stock day in day out. I understand for example there was, I think a Bournemouth train from Snow Hill (excuse me if I get the precise details wrong), which one day was GWR stock, the next day was Southern, with the GWR stock making the return trip that day, for use the following day.

 

The point I was trying to make was that they wouldn't usually be say a three coach formation which always stayed together, moving between services as a fixed group. Rather like some of the Southern EMUs used to work as fixed formations, with perhaps another EMU stuck on the back if needed.

 

I'm probably showing my woeful knowledge of other networks here, so please forgive me whilst I take cover.

According to Frank Dyer "The more important prestige trains were usually made up of a selection of vehicles specially chosen and positioned for the service concerned, but for more general services a system of "standard sets" was usually organised with a fixed number of cars of various types and classes to cover average requirements......Some companies used several types of standard set; those for Paddington-Plymouth were made up differently from those designated for S. Wales or Bristol.... In addition to such sets the railways held a pool of spare coaching stock, mostly older vehicles, for replacements and for adding to standard sets on certain services or to form extra trains"  

 

What I can remember of the just pre-Beeching Western Region around Oxford seems to have still followed this pattern. Apart from the "Cathedrals Express" I'm pretty sure that all the Paddington to Worcester trains had the same arrangement of I think eight mostly compartment Mk 1 coaches (though I can't remember what it was!) as did the pre DMU Oxford-Paddington trains. The London-Bicester-Birmingham restaurant car trains that sometimes featured in my cheap day return wanderings also seemed to be very consistent. On the other hand, the summer SO trains from t'north to the south coast were far less predictable, though not as unpredictable as their times. They always seemed to be late as did the daily southbound Pines Express.

Edited by Pacific231G
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One thing I enjoyed in those last few years of steam/diesel hauled BR travel was the way 'strengtheners' might be marshalled at the front of a popular train behind the engine.

 

The Western was as interesting as any other region in what could be found at the front.

I particularly liked finding a Gresley 'foreigner' with its lofty interior and beautiful water colour carriage paintings, in which nevertheless, you still experienced that pronounced 'forward and back' jerky pulling motion of a GW loco .

[ OT: Was that because of two widely spaced outside cylinders, or long travel valves or both?]

 

dhig

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The 'Ref Van' on the 09.15 Paddington seems to have led a very interesting life.  

 

In the amended (from March) 1947 workings it is shown as TO (Tuesday Only) on the 09.15 Paddington, detached at taunton for Plymouth (the forward working is not easy to find.  It then returned from Plymouth at 09.45 on Wednesdays, attached to the 07.40 ex Penzance,  to be detached at Bristol where it was then attached on the rear of the 13.20 Taunton to Paddington, at Swindon two Vans (one from Weymouth, and one from Calne SX) were attached behind it and a Siphon which had originated at Wootton Bassett was attached on the extreme rear.

 

Leaving Swindon the 13.20 from Taunton added up to quite an interesting train -

 

BTK, van end leading,) from Weston-Super-Mare  (attached at Weston)

TK                               ) 

CK                              )

BTK van end trailing  )

BTK van end leading } from Taunton

TK                             }

CK                            }

CK                            }

TK                             }

BTK van end trailing }

Ref Van     WO

Van

Van            SX

Siphon

Edited by The Stationmaster
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The forward working of the Ref Van was the "3.56 pm Taunton to Plymouth".  [NB I read this in the 1948 cwp as I am not old enough to remember it first hand.]  I put this in quotes because I suspect that the train originated somewhere up country and was not a humble stopper.

 

Chris

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It is worth remembering that "brown" vehicles often had quite complex operating cycles, being moved from train to train during your journey.

 

So think about adding or removing a brown vehicle from your express when it calls at your station (maybe even two) but on the return journey it might be completely different traffic added or removed.  And their might be brown vehicles at both ends depending on which suited the marshalling when they were added or removed. Even expresses could have brown vehicles as part of their makeup (not the really famous ones, of course).

 

One other comment/warning: the GWR did have a lot of standard sets denoted by letters, the most famous being the B set, but the descriptions of these trains varied over time.

 

Jonathan

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'Ref Van' might be Refrigerated Van, possibly for sausage/meat traffic or the like.

 

Adrian

Might it have been a Siphon J, which had ice compartments, for some sort of perishable traffic. I can't imagine them putting a Mica at the head of a passenger train. Siphon Js were used for this sort of traffic from Fishguard, coupled to the boat trains.

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If you are just looking for typical formations rather than specific ones, I put together a list of ideas that I culled from the 1951 Bristol Carriage Working Plan. Although post-nationalisation, I suspect that most of the formations and the stock were still firmly GWR in origin.

 

http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/84395-sample-wr-train-formations-from-the-age-of-steam/

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