Head-end traffic

The day to day working of the Caledonian Railway Company, including its constituents and successors.
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Jim Summers
Posts: 1188
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:54 pm

Head-end traffic

Post by Jim Summers »

A question arose after John Paton's stimulating talk on the L&A at yesterday's webinar. It related to the attached photo.
CR 125 at Busby Jn on Ardrossan train 440016 - CRA____ collection.jpg
CR 125 at Busby Jn on Ardrossan train 440016 - CRA____ collection.jpg (95.76 KiB) Viewed 1921 times
There was some discussion on the fact that a wagon was coupled inside the engine, and I made the comment that this was in order, provided there was through braking to the train.

Maybe I could expand a bit more than could be said on the webinar and with luck generate further views?

In the bad old days, there was much dispute about whether wagons should precede passenger vehicles or not, especially following an accident on the Highland, when the Caley operating chief was called to give evidence on the practice. It was quite a bitter disagreement. You can read that up in a certain operating book.

However the webinar question was not about mixed trains, but passenger trains with odd wagons attached. There is quite a history about that, and the LNWR and LMS used the expression Horse & Carriage trains (H&C in the WTTs). The Caley only used that once in a timetable, so far as I can see, but it did have tables of which trains could attach such traffic. Only certain trains were allowed to do so, as they had allowances in the schedule for picking up and setting down en route. The traffic would often be horseboxes or perhaps a private car, or perishable traffic.

We are talking about wagons which complied with the regulations for coaching stock (brakes, buffers, couplings, maybe steam heating through pipe etc.) See Mike Williams' book. Such wagons could technically be anywhere on the train, but as many, many pictures of Caledonian trains show, they were conventionally on the front. Usually they were covered vans, such as CCTs, but not necessarily, and open wagons would be quite in order, provided the loads, such as a road vehicle, were fully secured.( I have notes of a Caledonian inspector facing up to Army officers and making them re-lash their gun carriages.) My own view is that the wagon in the photo seems to contain old-style milk butts. If it were luggage, I would have expected it to be sheeted for protection and security - at a later stage than this photo the Caledonian insisted on taking excess accompanied luggage away from passengers.

But the real question was why was the wagon at the front?
I suggest because it was easiest, in that the train locomotive could then pick the wagon up from a wayside station and set it out en route. See - and this is the big build-up, folks! - the front cover of Campbell Cornwell's latest book om the Classic Years of Caledonian locomotives), where the mighty Cardean is shunting such a wagon at Carlisle. It was also simply the easiest and cheapest way way given some station layouts, in this case Glasgow Central where the vehicle would not have been loaded at a passenger platform.

I submit that there was a further benefit, though probably only an incidental consideration while helpful on busy holiday trains to the coast. The vehicle would be acting as the protecting leader vehicle, as required by the Appendix, thus avoiding the need to lock out compartments on the first passenger vehicle if that was not one with a Guard's Brake, which might well be the case at holiday times.

In modern times, Motorail vehicles and their position on passenger trains is quite another story for another day, though fascinating.

Any other views?

Keith Fenwick
Posts: 43
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2012 9:46 pm

Re: Head-end traffic

Post by Keith Fenwick »

Have a look at page 88 of the General Instructions in the Appendix to the WTT 1st May 1915. Vehicles with a wheelbase of less than 9ft were not to be carried by Express trains. Four wheeled vehicles over 9ft could be carried but unless the train was a stopping one had to be marshalled behind the locomotive. Page 60 also refers with the Board of Trade order under the RoR Act 1889 which mentions that 1 or 2 horse boxes or carriage trucks could be attached to the rear of the train. Otherwise the last vehicle had to be a brake van or contain a brake compartment.

Even if the vehicle in the photo is a 6-wheeler, it does conform to general practice.

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