Freight wagons

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Diversity of freight wagons in the Kornwestheim marshalling yard

Freight wagons , including freight cars or colloquially freight cars are railroad cars that the transportation of goods used.

Development history

Coal wagon from 1829 of the English coal mine in South Hetton, oldest surviving railway vehicle outside of Great Britain in the Nuremberg Transport Museum

At the beginning of the railway age, two-axle freight cars of a simple design were initially used almost exclusively. Covered goods wagons (also called covered ones at that time), open wagons with side walls and flat wagons (with and without stanchions ) were used almost exclusively . The initially simple vehicles have been increasingly developed further in the course of time for the respective load and for the loading and unloading equipment.

Special wagons for limited use, special goods or with special properties were discontinued as so-called private goods wagons as early as 1850. This includes almost all tank wagons and many refrigerator wagons . So-called car rental companies stopped many of these cars and rented them out to the companies using them.

The first agreements on the mutual use of freight wagons between the private and state railways were made quite early on ; around 1850, the Association of German Railway Administrations established regulations for the standardization of dimensions and facilities. The establishment of the Prussian state cart Association (1881) favored the formation of using uniform standard parts assembled car types. There were similar developments in other countries, decades before international standardization. A milestone in German freight transport was the formation of the German State Car Association in 1909, with uniform car types and car addresses . With the participation of all German state railways, a joint fleet of wagons was created, which at the end of 1911 comprised around 560,000 freight wagons.

Since the founding of the Association of Private Freight Car Customers (VPI) in 1921, the interests of the private transport industry, especially wagon rental companies, freight wagon construction and maintenance companies and owners of private sidings, have been represented in a bundle. The association now has around 100 members who own 50,000 freight wagons and transported 361 million tons of goods in 2007.

The agreement on the mutual use of freight wagons in international traffic ( RIV ) has been regulating the exchange of freight wagons in Europe and the Middle East since 1922. From 1953, international freight wagon fleets were created in Western Europe with the Europ Association and from 1964 in Eastern Europe with the OPW . International harmonization in freight transport was achieved in the second half of the 20th century by the UIC , among other things through the development of UIC standard freight cars. All freight wagons that take part in international traffic within the UIC railway companies must, in accordance with UIC regulations, be uniformly labeled with a UIC generic symbol and a UIC wagon number .

While freight trains were still traveling at a speed of around 30 km / h in the early days, it was not until the introduction of the main air line- controlled brake that enabled a higher speed of 65 km / h from the 1920s. Modern freight wagons are approved for top speeds of up to 140 km / h, have more powerful brakes with gray cast iron and composite brake blocks and are increasingly equipped with GPS receivers and transponders for position monitoring if necessary. At Deutsche Bahn (DB) there were copies for high-speed traffic up to 160 km / h. However, since the braking distance of these fast freight trains was longer than the usual distance from the distant signal , trains were only allowed to run at this high speed on routes with early driver's cab signaling ( LZB ). The freight wagons used for this had disc brakes, a continuous main air reservoir line and UIC control lines for the use of the electropneumatic brake.

The specific development history of German freight wagons can be found in the articles:

Types of freight wagons

Open freight car of the standard design (Eanos-x 055 of the DB )
Sliding wall wagon - Covered freight wagon of the special design (Hbillns of the ITL )
Special design flat wagons with telescopic hoods for
coil transport (Shimmns of the FS )

The freight wagons are classified by the International Union of Railways (UIC) according to their main structural features as follows:

The guidelines of the UIC were sometimes interpreted differently by the railway administrations, so that it could happen that almost the same wagons were assigned to different classes. Occasionally, wagons also had to be rearranged through minor modifications. For example, an e-car becomes an F-car by welding a door shut.

Freight wagons for special purposes - but none of the above. Types of construction can be clearly assigned - are:

  • Work car (railway company car) for use only within the railway. In Germany, the wagons, which often emerged from open goods wagons or turntable wagons, were given the generic sign X until 1968. These open wagons were used as slag wagons or as wagons for transporting work materials.
  • Fährwagen smaller vehicle gauge for traffic to Great Britain, represented by the letters are marked f.

A “loud freight wagon” is a freight wagon that did not meet the requirements of Regulation (EU) No. 1304/2014 when it was put into operation (Section 2 (1) of the Rail Noise Protection Act ). As of December 13, 2020, they will no longer be allowed to travel on the German rail network (Section 3 (1) of the Rail Noise Protection Act).

Rail mail wagons do not count as freight wagons, but as passenger trains or they form their own mail trains.

Historical classification of freight cars


German freight wagons were divided into the following groups from 1922 to 1968:

Covered freight cars
group Generic symbol * Wagon type
G group G / GG covered wagons, covered wagons, stable wagons, refrigerated wagons (until 1951)
T group T / DD Refrigerator truck
K group K / KK Hinged lid trolley
V group V Crate car
Open freight cars
group Generic symbol * Wagon type
O group O / OO open wagons, hopper wagons, bucket wagons
R group R / RR Stake car
S group S / SS Rail cars, flat cars, flatbed cars
H group H Stool wagon
X group X / XX Work car
BT group BT Container wagons
Z group Z / ZZ Tank wagons

* From 1951 "group characters"


Swiss freight wagons were divided into the following categories until 1968:

To differentiate between different series of the same basic type (open car, etc.), superscript numbers or letters were used. The digits related to different loading weights, the letters to the usability.

Swiss freight car 1897
Generic symbol Wagon type Subdivision
G Covered freight cars With air brake and steam line (express freight car)
J Open freight cars With air brake and steam line (express freight car)
K Covered goods wagons and cattle cars
L. Open freight cars Walls / shelves higher than 60 cm
M. Low side and flat cars Walls / shelves maximum 60 cm high
N Turntable wagon (long timber wagon)
O Special wagons
S. Ballast wagon

To distinguish between different series of the same basic type (open car, etc.), superscript numbers and letters were used, e.g. B. L 2 , K 3 or S kt . The numbers for the substructure types, the letters for brake equipment that deviates from the standard (or t for bottom scrapers).

Swiss freight car in 1934
Generic symbol Wagon type Subdivision
J, K Covered freight cars J = not suitable for transporting cattle
L. Open freight cars Walls / shelves higher than 60 cm
M. Low side and flat cars Walls / shelves maximum 60 cm high
N Turntable wagon (long timber wagon)
O Special wagons
P Private car
S. Ballast wagon
X Company car XT self-driving company cars

Stock of railroad freight cars in Germany

The number of freight wagons surpassed and exceeds that of passenger wagons many times over. The declining number of items does not always automatically indicate a lower transport performance, as the average loading volume and the permissible loading weights have constantly increased. The emergence of standardized ISO containers ensured that fewer wagons are required to move freight because the changing containers always have longer idle times away from the railways.

In der folgenden Tabelle ist weder bekannt, woher die Daten stammen, noch auf welches Gebiet sich diese beziehen (Deutsches Reich / BRD / Deutschland). Auch ist unklar, ob nur die Wagen der 'ehemaligen' Staatsbahnen oder auch private Wagen enthalten sind. 
Number of freight wagons in Germany
year Freight wagons
Data Source: ?

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Förstner, K., The Railway Construction Industry of North America, England and Other Countries
  2. Annual Report 2007. (PDF; 8.5 MB) (No longer available online.) Association of those interested in private goods wagons, archived from the original on July 19, 2011 ; accessed on June 23, 2008 (p. 4). Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. Davide Demicheli: Swiss freight cars at that time . Special volume EA, 1998, p. 8.
  4. Davide Demicheli: Swiss freight cars at that time . Special volume EA, 1998, p. 9.


  • Michael Brandhorst, Torsten Dellmann, Andreas Haigermoser, Markus Hecht, Stefan Karch, Günter Löffler, Wolfgang Rösch: Rail Vehicle Manual. Development, production, maintenance . Ed .: Christian Schindler. 1st edition. DVV Media Group GmbH, Hamburg 2014, ISBN 978-3-7771-0427-0 (576 pages, table of contents online [PDF; accessed on June 8, 2016]).
  • Freight wagon generic symbols of the kkSTB and BBÖ 1890–1938 . Slezak, 1984. ISBN 3-85416-107-7 .

Web links

Commons : Freight Cars  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: freight cars  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Güterwaggon  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations