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<< Profile 33 >> BRA/BYA Covered Steel Wagons
Build Details: 1998-1999 Thrall Europa, York
Numbering: 964001-964050 (BRA), 966001-966260 (BYA)
Bogies / Suspension: Swing Motion
Published Drawings:
Areas of operation: See text
Main liveries: red
Summary: The BRA and BYA covered steel wagons were the first to be built by Thrall Europa at the reopened York Works. Part of EWS's plan to rejuvenate the wagon fleet, the two very similar types were also intended to address the growing need to provide better protection to loads of finished steel. Their rather curious appearance, with a round-topped hood made of corrugated steel, earned them the nickname of Nissen Huts and they were soon to be found on steel trains across the country.

History: In July 1997, the still relatively newly formed English Welsh and Scottish Railway (EWS) announced that it was to have 2,500 new wagons built by Thrall Europa at the former carriage works in York. The first design to appear was a bogie covered steel wagon, given TOPS code BYA, the first of which were delivered in August 1998. These followed the trend established with private owner wagons in the early 1990s (and first used on some RIV wagons in the late 1970s) of having a metal cover with three telescopic sliding sections. Unlike the earlier wagons, the BYAs had covers with round tops (the ends being shaped to match) and were formed from pressed and crimped metal to give a curious corrugated appearance. Beneath the cover was a relatively high floor, which could be removed to allow access to a well in which steel coils could be carried. The design also had substantial solebars, on which a very large brake control was mounted, and American-type swing motion bogies. Another reflection of EWS policy was the fitting of swing-head couplings, with the intention being to use the AAR buckeye coupling for routine use. This could however be swung to one side to reveal standard drawgear, ensuring compatability with other stock. The wagons were painted in overall EWS dark red, including the solebars and buffers.

The BYAs (full code BYA-A) were numbered in the air-braked series as 966001 to 966260 and were initially to design code BY006A. Before deliveries were complete, problems were found with the swing-head couplings, and most of the wagons were quickly modified to design code BY006B. It was reported that this involved the replacement of the AAR coupling with a standard screw coupling. By the end of the year, wagons were in operation from Port Talbot, Immingham, Lackenby and the West Midlands and trains of the type, often mixed with the earlier JSA wagons, were becoming a common sight. From wagon number 966191 (or perhaps 966203) onwards, design codes BY006C and BY006D were assigned, together with new AARKND of BYA-B, although the differences are not known. Most of the last 10 were built as BYA-As to BY006B. Earlier wagon 966087 was reported as being to design code BY006E but later reverted to a BY006A.

Delivery of the batch of 260 BYAs was completed by the start of 1999, after which construction turned to a second variant which was assigned the code BRA, previously used for Borail wagons and later to BBAs modified to carry reinforcing bars. The new BRAs were also intended for steel bar traffic and, although largely identical to the BYAs, had fixed loading racks inside. 50 wagons were ordered, numbered 964001 to 964050. The first to appear (964002) was officially recorded as a BYA-D to design code BY006F, but had the BRA code applied externally. The remainder were BRA-Bs to design code BR008A. The whole batch was delivered in the first few months of 1999 but was slow to enter service. Problems with loaded bars fouling the sliding hoods lead to the entire fleet being recalled to works for modifications. They eventually entered service working from the Allied Steel and Wire works in Cardiff.

A minor mystery is the apparent recoding of some BRAs as BRBs, reported in at least one of the recent wagon fleet list books. It would seem unlikely that vacuum brake pipes would be fitted to this type, as they would very rarely even encounter another wagon that did not have air brakes. What is known is that the fleet was never fully employed and that a handful of wagons found use as adaptors to allow locos and other wagons to be coupled to wagons fitted with AAR couplings. An interesting picture that appeared on Fotopic showed a BRA coupled between two of the former National Power hopper wagons. It was evidently in use as an adaptor but intriguingly appeared to have an additional brake pipe strung up along its exterior. Another wagon was later reported to be in use as an adaptor at Newport with its covers removed, possibly as a result of a shortage of spare parts.

The next few years saw little change to the fleet. Two of the BYAs were taken to France for acceptance tests in 2006 along with some other types, possibly with an eye to EWS's introduction of services there. Starting in early 2008, a number of surplus BRAs were modified as BYAs (BYA-B), presumably simply by removal of the loading racks. The wagons retained their existing numbers but were given design code BY006C. 15 had been recoded by spring of that year. Most of the remaining BRAs had by then been modified to design code BR008B, while at least 9 were to BR008C with revised AARKND of BRA-C.



Links: Photos of BRA wagons on Martyn Read's website

Photos of BYA wagons on Martyn Read's website

Photos of BRA wagons on Andy Jupe's website

Photos of BYA wagons on Andy Jupe's website

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

BYA 966111 at Newport 20th August 2004.
Martyn Read

Page added: 22/12/2007 Spotted an error? Got some additional info?
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Last edited: 02/07/2008