Brake Van by gyvwpgjmtx



 Great Britain

A "toad" brake van of the Great Western Railway.

British Railways "standard" brake van.

In the UK the brake van performed a function similar to the caboose on North
American railroads, being the accommodation for the train crew at the rear of the train,
specifically the train guard, hence its alternative name.


In Great Britain, freight trains without a continuous train braking system in either the
whole train or the rearmost section of the train (unfitted or partly fitted in UK railway
parlance) were still prevalent in the 1970s but mostly eliminated by the 1980s. As of
2008, they are seen rarely on the main national rail network. On these trains, the brake
van had two additional functions: the guard would use the brake van's brakes to assist
with keeping the train under control on downwards gradients and whenever he could
see that the locomotive's crew was attempting to slow the train - route knowledge
would allow the guard to initiate the braking before the driver; second, the wheel
handbrake could be screwed down to keep the loose instanter or screw couplings taut
between unfitted wagons to minimise the risk of snapped broken couplings from the
locomotive "snatching" or jerking, which was particularly problematic as locomotives
became more powerful. Electric locomotives often provided the worst snatching of all.
Brake vans thus had a significant amount of concrete or cast iron ballast weight built
into their structure to increase the available braking effort.

To improve braking, some LNER, LMS and WD brake vans (the lattermost also
featuring vacuum cylinders) were fitted with vacuum brakes in addition to their
normal brake, which could be operated by the gaurd. The Southern Railway's 'Queen
Mary' brake vans are the only bogie brake vans in the UK, having been built on
redundant passenger coach frames; as they had better ride qualities, these brakes were
seen on fitted freight as well as milk & parcel trains.


In 1968 the requirement for fully fitted freight trains to end with a guards van was
lifted and the guard would ride in the rearmost locomotive cab, which, since the UK
mostly uses double-ended locomotives, has a good view of the train. These days brake
vans are only used in certain special cases, for example in trains with unusual cargoes
or track maintenance trains, or when one of the few single cabbed locos are used such
as the British Rail Class 20 and are consequently very rare. The nearest equivalent to
a brake van still in use on main line British railways is the Driving Van Trailer (DVT),
which is used on locomotive hauled trains to control the locomotive from the other
end of the train in a push-pull configuration - removing the need for the locomotive to
run around its train at termini. Although the DVT has braking capability of its own -
this is incidental as the vehicle's primary purpose is to allow the train to be driven
from the opposite end of the train to the locomotive, as well as providing
accommodation for bulky luggage.


In Australia, brake vans (or guard's vans - both terms were in common use) were often
also used for carrying parcels and light freight and usually had large compartments
and loading doors for such items. Some of the larger vans also included a
compartment for passengers travelling on goods services or drovers travelling with
their livestock.


Indian brake van

In India, brake vans are still in use to a great extent on passenger trains and goods'
trains (freight trains). The brake van in the passenger trains (usually the last coach in
the train) consists of an enclosed room/cabin with two small seats faced opposite to
each other, one seat having the writing table for the guard to assist writing and
working his train, the opposite seat being a spare. The van also consists of a small
lavatory. The speciality of the passenger brake van is a small dog box where a
passenger can carry their pet along with them while they travel in the same train in a
different coach. The guard generally remains responsible for the water and pet food
while the train is moving and there are features to the dog box to allow the same. The
brake van also consists of a stretcher, ETL box (Emergency Train Lighting), a stand to
hold the lamp signal during the night. The vacuum or air pressure gauge is hosted in
front of the guard's seat with a lever to operate it in case of emergency. There is
another manual hand brake which can be used in case of high emergency. The goods
brake van in India is less attractive, is generally the last bogie on the train, open on
both sides, does not necessary consists of interior lighting/lamps but it does house a
small WC lavatory seat for the guard owing to their long hours on freight trains. The
van is less secure and has less features as compared to the passenger brake van.

 Passenger brake van

British Rail Mark 1 coach with passenger compartments (left) and brake / luggage
area (right).

A passenger brake van originally served the same purpose as a goods brake van but,
when continuous brakes became standard on passenger trains, its use changed. The
hand brake is still fitted but is for emergency use, and for when the train is parked
without a locomotive present. The vehicle also provides a compartment for the guard,
a luggage compartment and, sometimes, passenger accommodation as well.


Examples of British passenger brake vans include:

Brake Gangwayed

Brake Standard Open

Brake Standard Open (Micro-Buffet)

 Support coaches

In the UK, converted British Railways Mark 1 passenger brake vans are used as the
basis of preserved steam locomotive support coaches.

 See also

Brake tender

Brakeman's cabin



 External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Railway Guards vans of Britain

LMS brake van

GWR brake van

LNWR brake van

 Categories: Rolling stock
 Rolling stock of Great Britain
 Freight equipment
 British railway wagons
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