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<< Profile 34 >> BPA/BRA/BXA Bogie Steel Rebuilds
Build Details: Rebuilt 1977-1982 BR Ashford and Shildon
Numbering: 965000-965079 (BPA), 967500-967649 (BRA), 990000-990050 (XVA/BXA)
Bogies / Suspension: Y25C
Dimensions: 52ft over headstocks, 40ft bogie centers (BPA and XVA/BXA), 62ft over headstocks, 47ft bogie centers (BRA)
Published Drawings: Rolling Stock Recognition 2 (BPA and XVA/BXA)
Areas of operation: Nationwide
Main liveries: black/red
Summary: As well as a large number of Bogie Bolsters, three other types of bogie steel wagon received overhauls in the late 1970s and early 1980s. 51 Trestles, 80 Boplates and 150 Borails were fitted with air brakes and new bogies and recoded XVA, BPA and BRA respectively. As with many air-braked types, all three had very short lives in their initial roles. Transfers to the departmental fleet and modifications for alternate uses affected all 281 wagons and a wide range of TOPS codes have been applied. Despite their age, just over 200 wagons were still in stock in early 2008.

History: As has been discussed elsewhere, the widespread adoption of air-brakes from the late 1960s onwards rendered many wagon types obsolete. In order to work with newer types, many of these wagons had air-brakes fitted, often coupled with a general overhaul. Bogie types were more frequent recipients of this work as it was easier to simply fit new bogies to these than upgrade the running gear on 2-axle wagons. The nature of BR's wagon building programme in the 1950s and 1960s meant that the most numerous bogie wagons were types dedicated to carrying steel. As well as numerous Bogie Bolsters, three more specialised types were selected for upgrading.

The Bogie Trestle was a wagon designed to carry plates wider than the 8ft that could be accommodated on standard wagons. This was achieved by the addition of a framework trestle that supported the plates at a 48 degree angle. BR built 88 Trestle wagons between 1950 and 1962 to three different diagram numbers. 2/491 was the original unfitted variant, 2/493 added vacuum brakes while 2/495 saw Gloucester bogies replace the diamond or plate bogies fitted to earlier examples. Rebuilding of other types as Trestles included 10 Bogie Bolster Ds and 35 Warflats. Under TOPS, bogie Trestle wagons were given codes XVO and XVV although all were withdrawn by the time the X TOPS GENKOC was amalgamated with the B GENKOC in October 1983.

In 1977, lot number 3911 was assigned to the rebuilding at BR Ashford of a single Trestle wagon. B903642 was given new Y25C bogies (with a brake control wheel on each) and modified with extra strengthening ribs on the side, a walkway at the rear of the trestle, strap tensioners on the solebars and air brakes. Renumbered as 990000 in the air-braked series, it was given TOPS code XVA (XVA-T). The design code of this wagon is not known but when lot number 3961 was issued in 1979 for an additional 50 such conversions, XV005A was applied. The production batch was rebuilt at Shildon works and took the numbers 990001 to 990050, and the wagons were delivered in the new Railfreight livery of flame red bodywork (including the trestle) and black solebars, bogies and underframe. The source wagons were from all three of the original diagrams. In October 1983 the Trestle fleet was recoded as BXA (BXA-T).

The next type to appear was the BPA Boplate. BR had built 1,410 Bogie Plate wagons between 1949 and 1961, the last 550 of which were fitted with vacuum brakes from new. Diagram numbers 1/490, 1/491 and 1/492 covered minor differences and all the wagons had low, 2-plank bodies made up of two drop-down sections on each side. Under TOPS, codes of BPO and BPV were applied, although all the unfitted BPOs were withdrawn by 1981. 52 BPVs remained in 1984, finding use carrying imported steel from Swansea Docks, but all were withdrawn by 1986. Many BPVs were modified as FEV (later FEW) container flats and FWV (later FWW and RRW) Boflats and some of both types lasted until the late 1980s. The BPV code made a brief reapparence on 12 wagons during 1989, presumably as a result of recoding, but these were withdrawn in 1991. A good number of Boplates survived into the 1990s in departmental use (with codes YNV, YRV, YSV, YSW, YUV, YUW, YVV, YXV, YYV and YYW) but all had gone by 2005.

Unlike the Trestles, there was no prototype for the air-braking conversions. Lot number 3985 was issued in 1980 and covered the rebuilding of 50 wagons at BR Shildon to design code BP004A. The full TOPS code was BPA-R. The work was confined to the underframe, with new Y25C bogies and air-brakes, although the bodywork was repaired if necessary and repainted in Railfreight red. New numbers 965000 to 965049 were allocated, followed by 965050 to 965079 when a further 30 wagons were converted under lot number 4011 in 1981 (again at Shildon).

The final type covered by this profile is the Borail. As the name suggests, these were designed to carry rail. BR built four distinct designs of Borail. The first 50 appeared in 1949 to design code 1/480. These were unfitted, 45ft long with straight solebars, low sides and four bolsters. As such they were very similar to Bogie Bolster Cs and some were indeed so coded later on. 24 were modified as Coil X wagons in 1975 but these, and the remainder, were all withdrawn from revenue use in the early 1980s. The second batch of Borails comprised 15 wagons built in 1959 to design code 1/481. To carry standard lengths of rail, these vacuum piped wagons were built to a length of 62ft and they resembled a stretched bogie bolster, having straight soldebars and low sides. All were later transferred to departmental use. The final two designs both had vacuum brakes, distinctive fish-belly solebars (deeper between the bogies) and lacked any bodywork above floor height. 30 wagons were built to diagram 1/482 for use carrying concrete beams, for which a flat deck was provided. Diagram 1/483 was for rail carriers and featured five tall bolsters. 135 wagons were constructed to this diagram. On both designs the load was secured using lashing rings mounted on brackets on the solebars.

Under TOPS, the Borail wagons were recoded as BRO, BRP and BRV depending on the brake type. The vacuum-braked variant was selected for upgrade work and in 1981 lot number 4012 was issued for the conversion of 150 wagons at Shildon works. Besides the modifications to the brakes and the fitting of new Y25C bogies, the body was altered to have 8in tall sides and ends, each side having 6 cutouts for strap tensioners. The lashing rings were removed but the brackets were left in situ, and six new bolsters were fitted. Livery was flame red sides and ends with black elsewhere. The rebuilt wagons were given new numbers 967500 to 967649, TOPS code BRA and design code BR006A.

The BRAs had perhaps the shortest life in original use of any wagon type. The last were completed in January 1982 but, by early 1983, the whole fleet was transferred to departmental use and recoded YLA (YLA-B) to design code YL003A. The following year, the first 30 BPAs followed suit, being recoded YNA (YNA-R) to YN034B. In both cases the numbers gained DC prefixes.

The Boplate fleet (and the Plate 2-axle versions) were often treated as general-purpose flat wagons, and could be seen carrying road vehicles, steel ingots, etc. However, the Trestle was less adaptable. When the amount of plate traffic declined, the BXA fleet was largely out of work. Some were employed as part of a train used for driver training on the newly introduced class 58 locomotive.

In 1984 BPA wagon 965077 became the prototype for conversion to a BMA and was used from Scunthorpe and Fort William. Details of the modifications are not known but it was further altered in 1987 with the sides removed and taller ends fitted along with new stanchions and bolsters. In this form it was used for ingot and plate traffic. Also in 1984 BPA 965069 was modified at Swindon to carry bogies. In late 1985, 10 of the YLA (ex BRA) wagons used by the Southern Region Civil Engineer had their bolsters removed and were recoded as YMA (YMA-C) with the fishkind of Salmon, although this was soon changed to Parr to avoid confusion with the original Salmon type. The wagons were mainly used to carry sleepers for which they were fitted with long timber baulks on the wagon floor and additional strap tensioning reels along the bodysides.

A revenue fleet list for March 1986 showed the fleet as containing 1 BMA and 49 BPA (the remainder of the BPAs having been recoded YNA) and 50 BXAs. There is some confusion over whether the production order for air-braked Trestles actually amounted to 50, with some sources giving the batch as 990001 to 990049. The total of 50 at March 1986 may indicate that this was correct (adding in the prototype), or that one wagon had already been withdrawn or recoded.

After two years with no major developments, 1988 saw a start made on redeploying the underused Trestle wagons. All BXAs had their trestles removed at Immingham and Frodingham and were recoded as RRAs for use as runner wagons with steel trains from Scunthorpe. Many wagons carried the incorrect code RXA at first. The number of BMAs increased in 1988 with more BPAs modified for use carrying aluminium from Fort William and steel from Scunthorpe. It was intended to convert all the remaining BPA wagons but, with one BMA condemned, the fleet at the start of 1989 comprised 44 BMA and 4 BPA. The last BPAs were recoded BMA later that year. Design codes for the BMAs were BM001A and BM001B and the AARKND was BMA-A. From 1989, further BMAs (coded BMA-B) were produced from BDA Bogie Bolsters and these were given design code BM002A.

1989 saw a second round of changes for the former Trestle wagons. 49 wagons from the production batch (see note above regarding quantities) plus the prototype were modified at Cardiff Cathays and recoded BOA (BOA-A) to design code BO002A. Ths work involved fitting four transverse cradles to carry strip coil steel, the cradles over the bogies being larger than those towards the centre.

30 more YLA Mullets were recoded as YMA Parr following the removal of bolsters in 1990. To avoid confusion with the YMA Salmon fleet, the TOPS code for the Parr wagons was changed to YQA (YQA-A, YQ001A) later that year.

Apart from a couple of withdrawals due to accident damage, and some more conversions from YLA/YMA to YQA, the next few years saw little change for the three fleets. At August 1994, 30 former Boplates remained in original condition as YNAs, with a further 47 in use as BMAs. The Borail fleet was split between 81 YLAs and 68 YQAs while the Trestles were represented by 49 BOAs. One change that had taken place was that many of the wagons in departmental use had lost their Railfreight red livery in favour of yellow or yellow/grey schemes. The original TOPS codes of BRA and BXA were reissued in 1992/1993 for variants of other steel wagon types.

The eventful life of the former Trestle fleet took another turn in mid 1994 when all the BOA wagons were withdrawn from use having been replaced by coil conversions of BAA and BBA types. The coil cradles were removed from the BOAs and refitted to BBA bogie steel wagons (to produce the BIA type) and SPA plate wagons (to make SKAs). Scrapping of the BOAs had been considered but the majority eventually reverted to use as runners with their earlier TOPS code of RRA (RRA-R to RR045A).

The privatisation of Railfreight and the subsequent formation of EWS had little affect on the wagons described here, one notable exception being the reappearance of the BPA code. Under EWS’s policy of reverting departmental types to their revenue equivalents, at least 15 of the un-modified YNAs were recoded back to BPA, with the DC prefixes removed and the original design code of BP004A assigned. Code BNA appeared from 1999 for BMA wagons converted from BPAs but this was simply to distinguish these from other BMAs converted from BDAs. A fleet list for 1999 shows 73 Boplates in stock (25 BMA, 20 BNA, 15 BPA and 13 YNA), 148 Borails (80 YLA and 68 YQA) and 46 Trestles (9 BOA out of use and 37 RRA).

By this time the original parts of these wagons were all getting on for being 40 years old and withdrawals became more frequent. The former Trestles were the hardest hit, many being scrapped at Tees Yard or by Thomson of Stockton. 29 remained in stock at the end of 2005, reducing to 15 by the beginning of 2008. All of these had at some point been given a new AARKND of RRA-X to distinguish them from the RRA-Rs converted from 2-axle vans, and all were out of use at Tees Yard (14) or Tyne Yard (1). 44 of the Boplates remained in 2008 but many of these were also out of use. The total included 11 BPAs (4 in departmental use and 7 stored), 10 BMAs that had escaped recoding (6 in use from Scunthorpe and Hartlepool and 4 stored), 22 recoded BNAs (8 in use as per the BMAs, plus 3 working from Skinningrove and 11 stored) and finally a single YNA stored at Banbury. The Borails were almost intact, with 144 wagons still in stock in 2008. 77 active YLAs were divided between general revenue steel use alongside BDAs (13) and EWS Network departmental use (64), with just 1 YLA in store at Toton. Of the 66 YQAs, 51 were still in use with EWS Network while 15 were stored, mainly at Tees Wagon Shops. Although a few wagons had been repainted in EWS maroon, the remainder soldiered on in rather worn-looking yellow livery, and they were a common site on engineers’ trains across the country.

Starting in early 2010 a number of YQA wagons were modified to the Tench type, although without a change in TOPS code. This work involved the fitting of low-sided open bodywork with mesh drop-down doors. The bodywork was in fact made up of 20 foot modules using standard ISO container mountings and was latterly fitted to the former Freightliner FJA conversions. As the YQAs do not have container mounting points the modules are presumably semi-permanently fitted.



Links: Photos of BPA wagons and variants on Paul Bartlett's website

Photos of BRA wagons and variants on Paul Bartlett's website

Photos of XVA/BXA wagons and variants (BOA, RRA, RXA) on Paul Bartlett's website Includes many detail shots

Photos of BPA wagons on Martyn Read's website

Photos of BMA wagons on Martyn Read's website

Photos of BNA wagons on Martyn Read's website

Photos of YLA wagons on Martyn Read's website

Photos of YQA wagons on Martyn Read's website

Photos of BNA wagons on Andy Jupe's website

Photos of BPA wagons on Andy Jupe's website

Photos of YLA wagons on Andy Jupe's website

Photos of YQA wagons on Andy Jupe's website

Updates: 15/03/2013: Photo links (finally) updated.
16/03/2010: Note on Tench conversions added.
For more pictures see the Links section at the bottom

YNA (ex BPA) DC965004 at Willesden, 29th March 1987.
Tom Young

YLA (ex BRA) DC967502 at Bedford, 16th April 1988.
Tom Young

XVA 990013 at Immingham 18th April 1982.
Paul Bartlett

Page added: 22/12/2007 Spotted an error? Got some additional info?
Please e-mail me at tom (at)
Last edited: 16/03/2010