Open wagon

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A Class Ow goods wagon on the Saxon narrow gauge railways with Heberlein brakes Offener Gueterwagen Loessnitzdackel.jpg
A Class Ow goods wagon on the Saxon narrow gauge railways with Heberlein brakes
Open wagon for peat, 750 mm (
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2 ft 5+1/2 in) TSV-6A.jpg
Open wagon for peat, 750 mm (2 ft 5+12 in)

Open wagons (trucks in the UK) form a large group of railway goods wagons designed primarily for the transportation of bulk goods that are not moisture-retentive and can usually be tipped, dumped or shovelled. The International Union of Railways (UIC) distinguishes between ordinary wagons (Class E/UIC-type 5) and special wagons (F/6). [1] [2] Open wagons often form a significant part of a railway company's goods wagon fleet; for example, forming just under 40% of the Deutsche Bahn's total goods wagon stock in Germany.


UIC standard goods wagons

Since the 1960s, the majority of goods wagons procured by European railway administrations have been built to standards laid down by, or based on, those established by the UIC. In addition to open wagons the table also shows wagons with opening roofs (Class T), whose design is based on open wagons.

NormUIC 571-1:
Ordinary class
two axles
UIC 571-2:
Ordinary class
four axles
UIC 571-3:
Special class
ClassType 1
Type 2
Wagon with sliding roof
four axles
Hopper wagon
two axles
Saddle-bottomed wagon
four axles
without roofwith roofwithout roofwith roof
Class EsEa(o)sTaems
to 1979: Taes
Axle base4.85 m
(15 ft 11 in)
5.40 m
(17 ft 8+58 in)
6.00 m
(19 ft 8+14 in)
Bogie pivot pitch9.00 m
(29 ft 6+38 in)
7.50 m
(24 ft 7+14 in)
Length over buffers9.04 m
(29 ft 7+78 in)
10.00 m
(32 ft 9+34 in)
14.04 m
(46 ft 34 in)
9.64 m
(31 ft 7+12 in)
12.54 m
(41 ft 1+34 in)
Loading length, min.7.79 m
(25 ft 6+34 in)
8.76 m
(28 ft 8+78 in)
12.71 m
(41 ft 8+38 in)
12.40 m
(40 ft 8+14 in)
Loading area, ca.22 m2
(240 sq ft)
24 m2
(260 sq ft)
35 m2
(380 sq ft)
33 m2
(360 sq ft)
Loading volume, ca.36 m3
(1,300 cu ft)
36 m3
(1,300 cu ft)
71 m3
(2,500 cu ft)
74 m3
(2,600 cu ft)
40 m3
(1,400 cu ft)
38 m3
(1,300 cu ft)
75 m3
(2,600 cu ft)
72 m3
(2,500 cu ft)
Unladen weight, max....12.5 t
(12.3 long tons; 13.8 short tons)
22.0 t
(21.7 long tons; 24.3 short tons)
24.0 t
(23.6 long tons; 26.5 short tons)
13.0 t
(12.8 long tons; 14.3 short tons)
13.5 t
(13.3 long tons; 14.9 short tons)
15.0 t
(14.8 long tons; 16.5 short tons)
15.5 t
(15.3 long tons; 17.1 short tons)
Doors per side2121
Door width...1.80 m
(5 ft 10+78 in)
1.80 m
(5 ft 10+78 in)
4.00 m
(13 ft 1+12 in)

Class E – Ordinary open high-sided wagons

Eaos: A Polish (PKP), four-axle, ordinary, open wagon with 9.00 m bogie pivot pitch in Luban Eaos-in-Lauban.jpg
Eaos: A Polish (PKP), four-axle, ordinary, open wagon with 9.00 m bogie pivot pitch in Lubań
Eanos-x :A longer, four-axle, ordinary, open wagon with steel floor and 10.70 m bogie pivot pitch DB-Eanos31805377769-0.JPG
Eanos-x :A longer, four-axle, ordinary, open wagon with steel floor and 10.70 m bogie pivot pitch

These wagons have a level floor and solid sides with at least one door on each side. They are mainly used for transporting bulk goods, coal, scrap, steel, wood and paper. The majority of wagons have folding sides and end walls, otherwise they are given the letters l (fixed sides) or o (fixed end walls). Wagons may have one or two folding end walls. Steel rings enable ropes, nets or covers to be attached to secure the load.

Some of these wagons can also be completely tipped over, in other words, at certain places they can be lifted up and emptied by being turned about their longitudinal axis. This requires a very robust underframe. Sometimes the wagons are fitted with rotatable couplings so that they do not have to be individually uncoupled.

In 1998, the Deutsche Bahn (DB) had about 16,000 four-axle Class E wagons. They have increasingly retired their twin-axled E wagons since the 1990s and they are now rarely seen.

Class F – Special open high-sided wagons

The majority of these are self-discharging wagons which use gravity-unloading (hopper cars and saddle-bottomed wagons), but in addition there are also:

In 1998, the Deutsche Bahn had about 12,000 hopper wagons, 10,000 saddle-bottomed wagons and 1,000 side-tipping wagons.[ needs update ] In addition to hopper and saddle-bottomed wagons there were also wagons with opening roofs.

Typical loads for these wagons are all sorts of bulk goods, like coal, coke, ore, sand or gravel. Because bulk goods are often moved in large quantities, these wagons are frequently used in so-called unit or block trains that only comprise one type of wagon and only shift one type of product from the dispatcher to the recipient.

Hopper wagons

Hopper wagons can only be unloaded by gravity with no external assistance and are therefore also classed as self-discharging wagons. The majority may be filled, when at rail or road level, by high-level discharge chutes (whose ends are more than 70 cm above the top of the rails) or conveyor belts. Because a controlled amount of the load can be discharged at any place the wagons may be sent anywhere and are even used individually. Railway companies also use hoppers as departmental wagons in maintenance of way trains for ballasting the track.

Since the 1990s there has been a trend for new hopper wagons to be built as bogie wagons which have not yet been standardised by the UIC.

Saddle-bottomed wagons

A Polish (PKP) Falns saddle-bottom wagon - a four-axle, open wagon with high-level gravity discharge to both sides and loading volume of 82 m (107 cu yd) - in Horka Falns-in-Horka.jpg
A Polish (PKP) Falns saddle-bottom wagon – a four-axle, open wagon with high-level gravity discharge to both sides and loading volume of 82 m (107 cu yd) – in Horka

Saddle-bottomed wagons are large-volume hoppers are exclusively unloaded by gravity and are therefore classed as self-discharging hoppers. Unlike normal hopper wagons, however, their discharge cannot be controlled and the entire load must be dropped. To unload the flaps on the side swing out allowing the load to empty. This is aided by the floor which slopes downwards on both sides like a gable roof. The discharging chutes on either side are relatively high up. These wagons are frequently seen in unit trains for transporting bulk goods such as coal or mineral ore from mines or ports to steelworks or power stations.

The most modern type of four axle saddle-bottomed wagon in the DB is the four axle Falns 121 with a loading volume of 90 m3 (120 cu yd). It was built from 1992 in several batches. By February 2008 another 100 of these wagons were to have been delivered to the DB and another 300 by 2010. These latest wagons will have an axle load of 23.5 t (23.1 long tons; 25.9 short tons) and an unladen weight of no more than 24.5 t (24.1 long tons; 27.0 short tons), resulting in a load limit of 69.5 t (68.4 long tons; 76.6 short tons).

Side-tipping wagons

Side-tipping wagons have hydraulic, pneumatic or electric tipping equipment, that enables the wagon body to be lifted on one side. Depending on the design, they may be tipped to both sides or just one side only. In order to prevent wagons from falling over during the tipping operation, some are equipped with track pinch bars with which they can be securely anchored to the trackbed. These wagons are often seen in unit trains being used to remove excavated material from major construction sites.

Specialized wagons

Lorry or mine car

A 30 cu ft (0.85 m) mine car, drawing from the United States Bureau of Mines 30-cu.ft.Minecar.jpg
A 30 cu ft (0.85 m) mine car, drawing from the United States Bureau of Mines

A lorry or mine car is an open railroad car (gondola) with a tipping trough, used in mining. It is known in the UK as a tippler or chaldron wagon, [3] and in the US as a mine car . [4]


Replica of a chaldron wagon Wooden coal truck - - 685590.jpg
Replica of a chaldron wagon

The first railway bulk-cargo gondolas, the first freight wagons, were the chaldron cars of the early coal-carrying plateways. These were relatively short in length and tall in proportion, with a tapered body that widened upwards, above the wheels. Once locomotive haulage began, the unstable and top-heavy nature of this design became a problem with increasing speeds and later wagons became lower and longer. The chaldron shape survived in a few cases, such as low-speed working around a large factory sites including steelworks.

Modalohr road trailer carriers

Modalohrs are specialized wagons for carrying road trailers and road tractors on the AFF route from France to Italy and Luxembourg to Spain and vice versa; there are plans to expand this service. [5] A deck between the bogies (trucks) pivots (swings) 30°, allowing the trailers to be loaded from the sides. The cars are built by Lohr Industrie.

Intermodal open wagons

See also

Related Research Articles

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A railroad car, railcar, railway wagon, railway carriage, railway truck, railwagon, railcarriage or railtruck, also called a train car, train wagon, train carriage or train truck, is a vehicle used for the carrying of cargo or passengers on a rail transport network. Such cars, when coupled together and hauled by one or more locomotives, form a train. Alternatively, some passenger cars are self-propelled in which case they may be either single railcars or make up multiple units.

A hopper car (US) or hopper wagon (UIC) is a type of railroad freight car used to transport loose bulk commodities such as coal, ore, grain, and track ballast. Two main types of hopper car exist: covered hopper cars, which are equipped with a roof, and open hopper cars, which do not have a roof.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Flatcar</span> Type of railroad car for transporting large objects, containers, or machinery

A flatcar (US) is a piece of rolling stock that consists of an open, flat deck mounted on a pair of trucks (US) or bogies (UK), one at each end containing four or six wheels. Occasionally, flat cars designed to carry extra heavy or extra large loads are mounted on a pair of bogies under each end. The deck of the car can be wood or steel, and the sides of the deck can include pockets for stakes or tie-down points to secure loads. Flatcars designed for carrying machinery have sliding chain assemblies recessed in the deck.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gondola (rail)</span> Open-top railroad freight car used for carrying loose bulk materials

In US railroad terminology, a gondola is an open-topped rail vehicle used for transporting loose bulk materials. Because of their low side walls, gondolas are also suitable for the carriage of such high-density cargos as steel plates or coils, or of bulky items such as prefabricated sections of rail track. Gondolas are distinct from hopper cars in that they do not have doors on their floor to empty cargo.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Covered hopper</span> Railroad freight car

A covered hopper is a self-clearing enclosed railroad freight car with fixed roof, sides, and ends with openings for loading through the roof and bottom openings for unloading. Covered hopper cars are designed for carrying dry bulk loads, varying from grain to products such as sand and clay. The cover protects the loads from the weather. Dry cement would be very hard to unload if mixed with water in transit, while grain would be likely to rot if exposed to rain.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rotary car dumper</span>

A rotary car dumper or wagon tippler (UK) is a mechanism used for unloading certain railroad cars such as hopper cars, gondolas or mine cars. It holds the rail car to a section of track and then rotates the track and car together to dump out the contents. Used with gondola cars, it is making open hopper cars obsolete. Because hopper cars require sloped chutes in order to direct the contents to the bottom dump doors (hatches) for unloading, gondola cars allow cars to be lower, thus lowering their center of gravity, while carrying the same gross rail load. The "Double Rotary" coal gondola or coal hopper is required for compatibility.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rail freight transport</span> Train that carries cargo

Rail freight transport is the use of railroads and trains to transport cargo as opposed to human passengers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mineral wagon</span> Small open-topped railway goods wagon

A mineral wagon or coal truck is a small open-topped railway goods wagon used in the United Kingdom and elsewhere to carry coal, ores and other mine products.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rollbock</span> Railway trucks that can carry a standard gauge wagon on a narrow-gauge line

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Goods wagon</span> Unpowered railway vehicle used for freight transport

Goods wagons or freight wagons, also known as goods carriages, goods trucks, freight carriages or freight trucks, are unpowered railway vehicles that are used for the transportation of cargo. A variety of wagon types are in use to handle different types of goods, but all goods wagons in a regional network typically have standardized couplers and other fittings, such as hoses for air brakes, allowing different wagon types to be assembled into trains. For tracking and identification purposes, goods wagons are generally assigned a unique identifier, typically a UIC wagon number, or in North America, a company reporting mark plus a company specific serial number.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Flat wagon</span> Railway goods wagon

Flat wagons, as classified by the International Union of Railways (UIC), are railway goods wagons that have a flat, usually full-length, deck and little or no superstructure. By contrast, open wagons have high side and end walls and covered goods wagons have a fixed roof and sides. Flat wagons are often designed for the transportation of goods that are not weather-sensitive. Some flat wagons are able to be covered completely by tarpaulins or hoods and are therefore suitable for the transport of weather-sensitive goods. Unlike a "goods wagon with opening roof", the loading area of a flat is entirely open and accessible once the cover is removed.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Covered goods wagon</span> Enclosed railway wagon used to carry freight

A covered goods wagon or van is a railway goods wagon which is designed for the transportation of moisture-susceptible goods and therefore fully enclosed by sides and a fixed roof. They are often referred to simply as covered wagons, and this is the term used by the International Union of Railways (UIC). Since the introduction of the international classification for goods wagons by the UIC in the 1960s a distinction has been drawn between ordinary and special covered wagons. Other types of wagon, such as refrigerated vans and goods wagons with opening roofs, are closely related to covered wagons from a design point of view. Similar freight cars in North America are called boxcars.

The International Union of Railways groups all special classes of railway goods wagon into Class U in its goods wagon classification system.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Great Western Railway wagons</span> Fleet of railway rolling stock

The fleet of Great Western Railway wagons was both large and varied as it carried the wide variety of goods traffic on the Great Western Railway (GWR) in the United Kingdom. This was the railway company that operated for the longest period of time in the country and covered a large geographical area that included big cities such as London, industrialised areas including the West Midlands, areas of coal and mineral mining such as South Wales, and Somerset and other important agricultural districts. In 1902 the company owned 59,036 wagons, and by 1926 this had risen to 88,580.

The Victorian Railways in Australia have had a vast range of hopper-type wagons over the last century, for transporting anything from grains through fuel to various powders.

The wagon with opening roof is a type of railway goods wagon that is, nowadays, defined and standardised by the International Union of Railways (UIC) as Class "T". They are a large category of rail vehicle, predominantly used for the transport of hygroscopic bulk commodities such as cement, plaster, lime, potash and grain.

The Victorian Railways used a variety of former traffic wagons around depots and for specific construction, maintenance and similar tasks. Very few of these vehicles were specially constructed from scratch, often instead recycling components or whole wagon bodies and frames from old vehicles that had been withdrawn from normal service as life-expired or superseded by a better design.

A pocket wagon is a freight wagon that has been specially designed for the transport of truck semi-trailers. This wagon belongs to the group of flat wagons in special design with bogies and is used in combined transport (CT). The name of these freight wagons comes from the fact that between the narrow longitudinal girders on the outside and also lengthways between the bogies, the so-called pockets are located, in which the wheels of the semi-trailers are particularly low. For flexible use in CT, pocket wagons have hinged latches with ISO spigots on the solebar, so that containers and swap bodies up to 45 ft can be accommodated'. As a flat wagon, it bears the UIC generic letter S and, since it is intended for the transport of road vehicles on one level, the code letter d. Since it is also possible to transport containers in a pocket wagon, it bears the UIC generic mark Sdgs. In this context, the code letter g stands for "containers up to 60 feet" and the lower case s for the permitted speed of up to 100 km/h (62 mph). The wagons have a yellow triangle with a black P on the long side. The first pocket wagons were built in Germany as early as 1972 and further developed according to requirements.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kangourou wagon</span>

The 'kangaroo wagon' is a type of wagon rail designed for the transport of semi-trailers. It has a drawbridge forming a pocket in the low position allowing the carrier train of the semi-trailer to be placed and thus to respect the height of the loading gauge.


  1. "Our Freight Wagons" (PDF). DB Schenker. 17 March 2015. p. 18. Retrieved 1 November 2021.
  2. Monios, Jason; Bergqvist, Rickard (2017). Intermodal Freight Transport and Logistics. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press. p. 42. ISBN   9781351711364.
  3. "Locomotion No. 1". Archived from the original on 8 December 2008. Retrieved 1 November 2021.
  4. "30-Cu. Ft. Mine car". Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 1 November 2021.
  5. "Railway Gazette: Modalohr Piggyback Wagons Approved for Channel Tunnel". Railway Gazette International . 23 November 2011. Retrieved 1 November 2021.
  6. Piggyback transport in the 60s, video in French