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Passenger train composition in the 1940s-70s

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Passenger Train Formations – CIE


As a result of several recent conversations, it occurred to me that the random nature of train formations in the recent past is something which occasionally comes up. Today’s enthusiast has been used to some forty years where train formations are entirely of a single uniform type of stock. This was not only rare in the past, it was almost unknown in day to day service – even when the 800 class were introduced.


The modeller of anything prior to 1972 might be interested in what follows – simply an absolutely random selection of ordinary everyday trains from photos taken between the mid 1930s and mid 1960s.


This will give a snapshot of typical train formations in the grey’n’green and black’n’tan eras. An absolutely uniform row of anything is, in all reality, unrealistic from that era!


1959 Dublin suburban, steam, hauled

MGWR 6w 2nd, MGWR 6w 1st (now downgraded), DSER 6w 3rd, DSER bogie brake 3rd, 2 x GSWR bogie 3rds, MGWR full passenger brake - unusually for then, still with birdcage.


1934 Cobh; probably up mail

GSWR high-roof composite, GSWR low roof brake 3rd, GSWR low roof 3rd, GSWR high-roof coach, and a mail van of some sort at the back. All bogie.


1930 Achill

MGWR 6w full passenger brake, MGWR bogie tricomposite (now 1st / 3rd)


1952 Clondalkin; down night mail

GSWR bogie mail van, unidentified (prob GSWR) 6 wheel mail van, GSWR low-roofed bogie 3rd, Bredin, early CIE Bredin lookalike, an old wooden brake bogie, plus what looks like another low roofed bogie 3rd after it. A few four wheelers bring up the rear; the photo isn’t great, but I think they are horse boxes! A 400 class up front.


1957 Skirting Killiney Bay – local from Bray

Park Royal, Bredin, Park Royal, GSWR non corridor bogie brake 3rd, GSWR low roofed third. This is the ONLY train in this selection so far with more than one coach of the SAME type!


Rathpeacon, 1951; up train

Ancient 6w full brake – looks GSWR, GSWR 1924-series high-roofed composite, high roofed GSWR 3rd, low roofed GSWR third, and a low-roofed coach at the end – looks like a 1901-5 type GSWR type. At the far end, a six wheeled brake of some sort.


Easter 1956, and 802 is lifting the following out of Kingsbridge with the down mail:

Heavily rebuilt 6w mail van – looks GSW by origin, but could possibly be a GSR rebuild of an MGWR type; GSWR corridor composite (I think), low roof GSWR third, high roof MGWR, low roof GSWR, the next one is GSWR but I can’t make out what it is, then a Bredin, then a six wheeled van.


Mallow, 1956, up train

GSW high roof 3rd, two old GSWR mail vans each of a different design, brand new laminate, Bredin, an old wooden coach I can’t make out (possibly a dining car), several vans and a six wheeled passenger brake.


Dungarvan, 1961

B101, Laminate, GSWR high-roofed 3rd, GSWR low roofed, another GSWR low-roof of a different design, and what could possibly be a GNR wooden bogie, possibly GSWR.


And finally, U class 197 arrives in Amiens St from Howth with a mix – all now in CIE green – of a GNR brake 2nd, a GNR 2nd, a GSWR third and I can’t make out the last one with the engine smoke.


Finally, finally, we’re into black’n’tan diesel days; the following are all a combination of random photos and memories of mine from between 1968 and 1974.


1. An “A” with a tin van, suburban Bredin, main line Bredin, Park Royal & Laminate. There’s another van – probably a heating van.

2. One old wooden GSWR bogie brake, Park Royal, Bredin, Craven and tin van.

3. Park Royal, Laminate, Bredin, and three wooden bogies, no two the same, but all GSWR.

4. And finally, one more with more than one the same! First, B150 leaves Connolly in 1973 with a tin van, Park Royal, Laminate, older laminate, two Park Royals, laminate and a van at the end of some sort. Next, in 1974, leaving Tralee, we have a 141 hauling three laminates of two designs, one Craven, one full parcels / mail brake (GSR / early CIE?), a wooden GSWR bogie and a BR genny van.


I have often commented on the lack of uniformity of trains in the past, I wrote this intending to illustrate the point to assist modellers of the period, but I find myself surprising myself too – look how many trains above have even two of the one type, never mind a rake of them!


I recall watching the 10:30 down Cork passing Port Laoise in 1977 or 8. There were ten bogies and two vans. I think there were two Cravens and two Park Royals or something like that, all separately amongst a hotch potch mix of various types of laminates and so on. One van was a 322X series, the other a BR….

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Very helpful. I can now say with authority that when I put different styles of coaches together that this is how a train could have looked even with a birdcaged brakevan or a GNR coach in its original livery as well as some in CIE Green. Would that have been the lighter green?


Do you have anything similar on GNR train make up?



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A wee example of the type of coach variations to be found in the 1950s on Irelands Railways.




Only Two coaches, well there are the Turf Coaches in the background.


Interesting. The mix is apparent; of the two derailed, the one on the left is GSWR and on right a classic MGWR bogie of Cusack era.


The six wheelers in the background are interesting. Left: DSER. Right: looks MGWR. But the one in the middle with the straight sides is a puzzle. It's possibly a West Cork or Macroom vehicle, but I'm not sure. The straight sides throw me a bit. DSER, GSWR or MGWR it isn't.

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Design wise, looks that way, but the SLNCR didn't sell any old stock to the GSR. It will be some GSR constituent.


On the basis of elimination, it's not Waterford & Wexford, GSWR or DSER. Any old flat-sided Midland stock was - as far as I'm aware - four wheeled and of pre-1877-ish era. That yoke is a six wheeler. Any GSWR stock which was flat sided had different windows and again, would be pre-mid-1870s and thus, most likely, a shorter wheelbase. Most stock this old from both the MGWR and GSWR had been broken up long,long before these turf conversions took place.


It's not Tramore stock. It's not WLWR. I'm wondering if it is ex Cork & Bandon. Beyond that I'd be stumped....

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