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<< Profile 5 >> YCV 'Turbot' Bogie Ballast Wagons
Build Details: Converted 1982-1988 by BR (Shildon, Swindon) and RFS, Doncaster
Numbering: DB978000-DB978991
Bogies / Suspension: Davis & Lloyd / Gloucester Cast
Dimensions: LOB: approx 10800mm. Bogie Centers: 6858mm
Published Drawings:
Areas of operation: Nationwide
Main liveries: grey/yellow
Summary: The Bogie Bolster E design built by BR in the 1960s turned out to be too short for their intended traffic but, when fitted with low-sided bodywork, found use as ballast wagons. Almost 1,000 were rebuilt in the 1980s and renumbered in the departmental series. Their vacuum brakes and relatively fragile drop-side doors saw the type displaced by more modern designs and conversions, and most of the Turbots were withdrawn in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

History: NB: This is a brief profile. It will eventually be upgraded to the standard of later profiles, with more detailed information.

BR found itself with a large fleet of young but under-used Bogie Bolster E wagons in the 1970s, 1200 of the type having been built in 1961 and 1962 but proving too short to be useful for steel traffic. As the engineers fleet at the time was varied and elderly, it was decided to rebuild some of these Bogie Bolsters as ballast wagons.

A low-sided body was constructed, the sides being made-up of three drop-side doors. The fixed ends had an angled plate fitted on top to prevent loads from spilling on to the draw-gear. Livery was civil engineers grey, with the top third of the sides in yellow. The type was coded YCV and given the fishkind of Turbot.

The number series allocated for these wagons was from DB978000 and very nearly 1000 were eventually converted, using the majority of the source wagon fleet. Wagons up to DB978746 were converted at Shildon. When this closed in 1984, the work was transferred to Swindon, who built up to DB978921 over the next two years. There was then a gap until the programme was recommenced at Doncaster works (later RFS). Their first wagon was DB978922 in February 1988, and the last (DB978991) in June.

Although designated as ballast wagons, the type was able to carry other loads due to the fitting of doors. In fact the bodies were susceptible to damage from grab-loaders used on ballast circuits and later types (such as the Clam) were to a more sturdy design.

Turbots could be seen either singly or in rakes in most parts of the country throughout the 1980s. During this time the livery changed from grey and yellow to 'bashed and rusty', the type apparently being low on the patch and repaint priority list! By the 1990s, the vehicle's age and the availability of more modern replacements triggered the start of withdrawals. A number of Tubots were rebranded as Herons, hardly a fishkind!. It is thought that these wagons had their doors welded shut to make them more suitable for ballast and spoil traffic. Quite late in their career, a few Turbots were repainted in EWS maroon in connection with a job to transport sea defence boulders in Somerset.

While most of the withdrawn Turbots were presumably scrapped, a batch of 60 was bought by London Underground Ltd in 1995. These were refurbished by ABB at Crewe, modifications including the fitting of air brakes, end steps and control wiring. The end spill plates were removed and the wagons were repainted yellow with new numbers SB231-290. They have been used since 1996 carrying ballast in connection with track renewal jobs on non-tube sections of the network.

By late 2005 the national rail fleet was down to just 10 examples and extinction cannot be far off.

A notable fact about the Turbot is that, despite being bogie wagons, they were in fact slightly shorter than many of the 2-axle ballast wagons that replaced them (eg Seahorse).



Links: Photos of YCV Turbot wagons on Paul Bartlett's website

Photos of YCV Turbot and Heron wagons on Martyn Read's website

Photos of YCV Heron wagons on Andy Jupe's website

Updates: 15/03/2013: Photo links (finally) updated.
For more pictures see the Links section at the bottom

YCV DB978015 at Exeter 26th July 1982.
Paul Bartlett

Page added: 01/10/2007 Spotted an error? Got some additional info?
Please e-mail me at tom (at)
Last edited: 03/10/2007