Carriage Information - Waggonfabrik WegmannComrails Logo

Waggonfabrik Wegmann

In the early 1950s the Commonwealth Railways received approval to purchase two new sets of rollingstock for the Trans-Australian line. Preliminary negotiations were handled by C.Wykeham & Co. Ltd., Melbourne, who were the Australian agents for Maschinefabrik-Augsburg-Nuernburg A.G., Nuernberg, Western Germany, at whose suggestion the contract was carried out by Wegmann & Co., of Kassel.

The design and internal arrangement of the cars was a joint project of Wegmann and the Commonwealth Railways. When introduced they provided a standard of comfort that was considered world class in both luxury and facilities provided.

The consist of each train (from the rear) was: first class sleeper-observation car (ARF), two first class sleeping cars (ARD), lounge car (AFA), dining car (DC), second class sleeper lounge car (BRF), two second class sleeping cars (BRB), and combination brake and power van (HRGA) at the head end of the train. The total weight of the nine cars was approximately 440 tons.

All the cars were air-conditioned and slightly streamlined with an external maroon finish, banded with silver below the window line, aluminium roof and black skirt. The car body was constructed from an all-welded steel unit, skin stressed, combining strength and light weight. Insulation consisted of a cork and rubber mixture, glass wool and timber, then cork, and then lead.

First class compartments were completely carpeted, with heavy cork underlay, and the seats upholstered in moquette. The compartment wall panelling was Swedish birch and in the corridors, mahogany.

The method of construction of the double windows was unique in that a Venetian blind operated in between two glass windows. The inside window was hinged to make cleaning easy and operated by means of a small handle directly above one corner of the window.

The first class lounge was divided into three sections panelled throughout in elmwood. Scenes of various castles in the area in which the cars were constructed were inlaid in various woods on the walls.

The bogies used on the cars were a departure from usual Australian practice. They were made by another West German engineering firm, Westwaggonfabrik, and were all welded, four wheel, individually sprung, single bolster type. S.K.F. roller bearing axle boxes were fitted, and the bogie frame was supported on each side of the axle box on coil springs. The wheel and axle assemblies were confined to their positions by flexible and adjustable tie bars, the usual type of axle box guide being dispensed with. Wheel tyres were specially profiled, half the tread being 1 in 40, and the other half 1 in 20, the idea being to damp out lateral oscillations.

Braking consisted of two separate installations on each bogie, operated by separate brake cylinders. Four brake blocks to each wheel was another unusual feature. Sixty-four bogies of the same design were obtained by the Commonwealth Railways for use on existing wooden carriages that were at that time being fitted with air conditioning. These bogies, after modification, were used extensively on the narrow gauge rollingstock used on the Central Australia Railway.

Additional cars were obtained in 1956 so as to be able to make up another carriage set. This order introduced the "ARE" roomette sleeping car. Externally the cars were identical to the existing fleet, but internally these cars featured a staggered or "zig zag" type centre corridor, which previously had not been used on an Australian train. This corridor arrangement allowed additional room to be provided for passengers to dress and undress in the roomette when the berth was down. Compartments were lined with Swedish birch, with the ceilings in bird's eye maple, and the corridor featured a combined styling effect, with teak from the floor to waist height, and then sycamore to the low ceiling, which was painted white.

29.10.1952First Order of cars arrive at Port Augusta
15.11.1952Entered service - special run made from Port Pirie Junction to Kalgoorlie with the two train consists attached as one unit, hauled by two diesel electric locomotives.
24.11.1952First west-bound train of the new cars, with a full complement of passengers, left Port Pirie Junction.
26.11.1952First east-bound train of the new cars, left Kalgoorlie.