Couchette cars

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Austrian couchette in old paint scheme (2002)
Compartment with six beds, ladder and railings foldable (2011)
Nightjet couchette car in Graz main station
ÖBB Nightjet , couchette compartment Show
as spherical panorama

A couchette car (in Switzerland : couchette ) is a passenger carriage with seating compartments , the seats of which can be converted into a kind of flatbed (simple bed) for sleeping. In contrast to sleeping cars , couchette cars have a higher occupancy rate (4 to 6 couches per compartment). You also have less comfort and privacy, which is why the prices are lower than in the sleeping car.


German Reichsbahn

On January 1, 1922, the leading German Reichsbahn tentatively in an express train -pair between Cologne and Berlin "sleeper 3rd class" field. The generic name was WLC 6 ü . The wagons had 12 compartments with three places each, but bed linen was not provided. In terms of comfort, it was a mix between the 2nd class sleeping car and the later couchette car.

Austria and package tours

In the years 1932 to 1937, the Austrian BBÖ converted 15 older two-axle cars into sports couchettes . These had four compartments with six berths each and one toilet , they were mainly used in winter sports trains. After 1945, the remaining cars were dismantled into seated cars.

In the 1950s, several European railways began to procure modern couchette cars. They were used both in regular night express trains, to enable wider sections of the population to travel more comfortably at night, and in special trains for travel agencies , where the journey was offered as part of a package tour .

Bc4üh 31 660 - 681

In the years 1954 to 1956 SGP-Simmering delivered 22 couchette cars with the designation Bc4üh, whereby the first 12 cars (660-671) were called SC4üh (special car 3rd class, four-axle, closed transition, electric heating). They were the first passenger coaches of the ÖBB with a total length of 26.4 m.

Inside, the cars were equipped with twelve compartments with six seats each, one compartment being used as a service compartment. The first building lot (660-671) had three washrooms while the second building lot (672-681) had four. At the beginning, the wagons had translating windows of the Wegmann type, which were, however, replaced by those of the VMW type with rubber seals during the major renovation in 1961. Furthermore, rain strips were attached, the bogies of the type SGP 53 were equipped with shock absorbers and the weighing leaf springs were replaced by coil springs, which changed the name to SGP 53U. The interior was clad with decorative panels and the synthetic leather covers on the seats were replaced with wool plush covers. The number of seats was reduced from 72 to 66 through the installation of a full service compartment. The wagons of the first construction lot were given a fourth washroom.

With the introduction of the new UIC numbering scheme in 1968, the designation of the wagons changed to Bcm 51 81 51-50 000 to 021 as well as the lettering: The previous address board at the bottom left was removed, the wagon number was placed in the box number and the metal wagon class numbers replaced by digits on a deduction basis. Approx. From 1970 the smoking and non-smoking pictograms were attached.

Between 1967 and 1974 they were equipped with type SGP IVb, SGP Va and Wegmann 15 bogies. Rubber bead transitions were also installed in the 1970s. In 1979 the cars were given a new paint job instead of the previous one in fir green, jet black and white aluminum: RAL 5002 (ultramarine blue) for the car body and the aprons, RAL 1014 (ivory) for the outline stripes and the roof, RAL 7022 (umbra gray) for the chassis and RAL 9005 (jet black) for the bogie. From 1982 both the roof and the bogies were painted umbra gray.

Bc4üh 31 700 - 711

The second series of couchette cars was delivered by SGP in 1960. They largely corresponded to their predecessors. The front sides with the rubber bulge transitions were redesigned and the flush revolving doors could now be opened inwards.

The carriages were equipped with ten compartments, each with six seats, a conductors' compartment, four toilets (two at the end of the car) and two washrooms with three washbasins each. The above-mentioned conversion measures (windows, bogies ...) were also carried out on these cars in the 1960s.

With the introduction of the new UIC numbering scheme in 1968, the designation of the wagons changed to Bcm 51 81 50-50 001 to 011.

In 1982, due to the delivery of newer wagons, the transfer to the domestic wagon fleet took place, so that wagons 002, 004 to 011 were now designated as Bm 50-30 (wagon 000 remained as a couchette car, wagon 003 was destroyed in a fire in 1974) and were mainly used in regional trains. Between 1983 and 1988 the conversion into the baggage car Dmsz 51 81 95-30 001, 002, 004-011 took place. In contrast to the existing baggage cars of the 95-50 series, observation booths were not installed, so that the cars only have a service compartment and a side aisle instead of a central aisle. The cars 004, 005, 007 and 010 received the Eurofima paint scheme that was common at the time: Box in pure orange (RAL 2004) with a decorative strip in light gray (RAL 7035). The roof, the bogies and the chassis were painted in umbra gray (RAL 7022). The remaining wagons received the new driving scheme: box in ivory (RAL 1014) with a window band in umbra gray (RAL 7022) and luggage compartment doors in blood orange (RAL 2002). Between 1990 and 1992, the 004, 005, 007 and 010 cars were also adapted, with agate gray (RAL 7038) and traffic red (RAL 3020) instead of blood orange being used instead of ivory.

The 50-50 000 car was converted to the RoLa escort car 59-50 900 in 1988. In the course of reducing the maximum speed to 120 km / h in 1992, the number was renumbered 59-10 900.

Bc4üh 31 720-722

In 1963 the Linz shipyard delivered the small series Bc4üh 31 720 - 31 722 which, in terms of car construction, corresponded to the type UIC-X wagons that were delivered at the same time. The carriages were already equipped with folding doors ex works and, compared to the other couchette cars, had wider windows (1200 mm instead of 1000 mm) and, due to the installation of a two-channel air heater on the aisle side, a fan grille with horizontal slats.

Inside, the cars were equipped with ten compartments with six seats each, a service compartment, two toilets and three washrooms. With the introduction of the new UIC numbering scheme in 1968, the designation of the wagons changed to Bcm 51 81 50-50 020 to 022. In 1979, the wagons were given the typical paint in ultramarine blue and ivory. With the delivery of the 59-70 series in 1981 and 1982, they were only used together with older cars on the D 252/253 express trains to Beograd and in the seasonal D 1254/1255 to Zagreb until the beginning of the Yugoslav crisis.

Between 1992 and 1993 it was converted into RoLa escort cars 59-10 109 to 111.

Bcmoz 50-70 000-029

In the years 1976 to 1977 Jenbacher-Werke supplied the 30 couchette cars 50-70,000-029 under license for the Swiss RIC couchette cars from the Schlieren wagon factory. The 26.4-meter-long and 41-tonne wagons are equipped with Minden-Deutz MD 36 bogies and are approved for a top speed of 160 km / h.

Inside, the wagons were equipped with ten compartments with six places each, with four as well as six berths available in the night position. With a length of 1894 mm, the compartments were a little larger than in the previous series. A service compartment, a toilet at the end of the car and three washrooms also belonged to the interior.

The cars were initially painted in ultramarine blue, cream white (RAL 9001) and deep black and labeled as Bcmoz and had a blue door monitoring light on each side. From 1981 the generic symbol "o" was dropped, in 1982 the roof, the bogies and the chassis were painted umbra gray. The door monitoring lights were later removed. From 1987 onwards, a new color scheme was tried out for cars 009 and 015: car body in ivory, window band in ultramarine blue, roof, chassis and bogies in umbra gray. The remaining cars were later also given this paintwork, with agate gray being used instead of ivory. From 1991 the cars received the smoking and non-smoking pictograms.

In the course of the delivery of the series 59-91 1. and 59-91 2. the conversion into RoLa escort cars took place.

Current state

Today, ÖBB couchette coaches use four different types, which have been repainted in the nightjet design (night blue with a traffic red stripe and a starry sky) since 2016 :

29 couchette cars Bcmz 61 81 59-90 000… 059 come from the series of 60 carriages 51 81 59-70.0 delivered by the Jenbacher works from 1981 to 1982 . From 2004 to 2010 they were equipped with air conditioning and upgraded for 200 km / h.

Ten Bcmz 61 81 59-91 100 to 109 couchette cars were delivered in 1991 by the Jenbacher works. They are the first couchette type in the world to be pressurized and run on MD 52 bogies.

20 pressure-capable couchette cars Bcmz 61 81 59-91 200 to 219 were designed by Siemens SGP between 2000 and 2001 and finally assembled by Bombardier Dunakeszi . The angular roof shape of these cars was later adopted for the railjet and other cars. Like the sleeping cars, these cars are also equipped with SGP 400 bogies.

15 couchette cars Bvcmbz 61 80 59-90 002… 044 were taken over by Deutsche Bahn in 2016. These cars were built from 1962 to 1967 by Credé , WMD , DWM and O&K as Bc4üm-62, later referred to as Bcm 243 , converted into Bcmh 246 in the 1980s , then converted from 2001 to 2004 in the Halberstadt repair shop in Bvcmbz 249.1 , included Two couchette compartments were converted into a handicapped-accessible compartment and a barrier-free toilet, air conditioning installed and new MD 52 bogies installed.

German Federal Railroad

One of the pioneers was the Deutsche Bundesbahn , which from 1954 put new type CL4ümg-54 (later Bcm 242 ) into service. These included the new UIC Type X to. The tourism companies Touropa and Scharnow procured their own vehicles of this type for their travel agency special train services, which were used in winter in the Alps , in summer preferably on the Mediterranean coast . These carriages had twelve compartments, ten to eleven of which were reserved for couchette purposes, the other compartments were used as a kitchen or couchette.

Forerunners were the travel agency special train wagons that were made from express train wagons of the pre-war design and were equipped with hammocks .

The couchette cars were refined in the period that followed. There were special wagons with so-called preferential compartments for the special trains of travel agencies.

From 1963 onwards, modified type Bcm 243 cars were purchased for normal travel , which only contained eleven compartments (the express train cars still had twelve of those), one of which was used for accompanying purposes. Type Bctm 256 couchette cars, 27.5 meters long, with special compartments in the middle of the carriages were created for regular traffic. They were the longest couchette cars in Europe. The preferred compartments in the travel agency couchette cars could optionally be combined into one large compartment.

The DB couchette cars originally had a green paint job and were mostly made in blue from the 1956 class reform. In 1972, some of the wagons were given a so-called pop paint scheme with a violet and, in some cases, dining car red ribbon. From 1974 the couchette cars of the DB, including the wagons taken over from the tourism companies, were given the ocean blue / beige paint (RAL 5020 and RAL 1014).

The DB couchette coaches did not receive the product colors introduced by the Deutsche Bundesbahn in 1986 , although the IR variant blue / white, which stood for long-distance traffic, was intended. It was not until 1996 that the then new red and white long-distance transport paint scheme was introduced for couchette coaches. Some cars were converted and found a new field of activity in the CityNightLine trains with their midnight blue paintwork .

For the TUI-FerienExpress of Touristik Union International ( TUI ), which emerged from Touropa and Scharnow, couchette cars with higher comfort were built from the end of 1979 (only five beds per compartment, air conditioning). These cars were later sold to the NS and, after the NS withdrew from the night travel business, went to various special train operators, today some cars are operated by MSM and TRI.

The Deutsche Bundesbahn had signed a contract with its subsidiary DSG on the management and provision of personnel for couchette coaches. For the scheduled night trains (regular trains) the DSG provided the couchette supervisors for many years; This activity was often carried out by student assistants who mostly worked for the DSG for years during the semester break and on public holidays such as Christmas and Easter.

German Reichsbahn

Type Y / B70 couchette coach (built in 1979)

As one of the first new acquisitions after the end of the war, the first couchette cars appeared in 1951, initially classified as third class sleeping cars (WLC4ül-50). With retracted entrance doors, drop-down windows, bellows-wagon transitions and a length over buffers of 21.27 m, they corresponded to the standard design express train wagons and ran easily on type Görlitz III bogies . The loungers were covered with green synthetic leather. Some of these wagons were rebuilt later, and they were given windows in which only the upper third could be opened using a crank. They were taken out of service around 1980 after having only been used as seating cars in the previous years.

On the basis of the B and Y / B-70 cars , the DR procured couchette cars that were otherwise largely similar to the seating car. Such wagons were also supplied to other Eastern European railway administrations.

The delivery in 1964 corresponded to the type B with a rectangular floor plan, the interior walls clad with lime green Sprelacart were striking . What was new was that the day seating and lying areas were separated, as the loungers were folded down into the night position. In contrast to those of the DB wagons, the lying areas were absolutely level. Because of the arching of the roof, the upper couches were drawn in at the foot end. In 1979 a new series, corresponding to the type Y / B 70, was delivered. The DR received 60 vehicles, as did the ČSD, the MÁV 30 and the BDŽ 20. The cars had entrances with a third step, wall cladding with mahogany decor and textile-covered lying areas. The DR coaches were initially painted dark green, from the early 1980s they also received the usual chrome oxide green-beige paint used on DR passenger coaches.

From 1984, 50 UIC-Z type couchette cars with 26.4-meter-long vehicles, which otherwise resembled the Halberstadt wagons, from Waggonbau Bautzen followed . This design ran entirely on type GP200 bogies , initially with magnetic rail brakes on 20 cars . The originally built-in steam heating was later expanded. Some of these cars were sold to Bahnouristikexpress and later to the rail transport company.

All DR couchette coaches built from 1964 onwards had a somewhat narrower side aisle and therefore longer lying areas due to their derivation from the seating coaches compared to those of the DB (eight seats in the compartment instead of six, but no emergency seats in the aisle).

Swiss Federal Railways

Modernized SBB couchette car Bcm 50-70.0 with purple stripes
Modernized SBB Eurofima couchette car

The SBB had couchette cars of three basic types:

  • 30 Bc 5151 to 5180, later Bc 59-80 000 to 029 (1960 to 1961), 23.7 m long, nine compartments (derived from BLS Schlieren carriages)
  • 50 Bcm 5181 to 5200 (first series), later Bcm 50-70 000 to 049 (1964 to 1972), 26.4 m long, ten compartments (type UIC-Z2 )
  • 20 cm 50-70 100 to 119, from 2002 modernized to 59-90 100 to 119 (1979), 26.4 m long, ten compartments ( Eurofima type ), converted in 2011 as an escort car for RAlpin AG .

The couchette coaches were initially pine green like other passenger coaches and only recognizable by the small lettering on the couchette coaches next to the doors; the cars from 1960/1961 kept this color scheme until they were retired. In the 1970s, the 26.4 m long cars became cobalt blue with a creamy white stripe under the windows and the new SBB logo under the first compartment window on the left, analogous to the sleeping cars in the TEN pool. In the 1980s, many cars were converted to the new labeling standard and received the updated logo in a red rectangle. Refurbished 50-70.0 series cars became cobalt blue in the 1990s with four wide purple stripes, red doors, a yellow moon, and white stars. The modernized Eurofima couchette cars 50-90.1 were painted cobalt blue with a black window band.

SBB has not operated its own couchette cars since 2009.

Other tracks

Corail couchette car of the SNCF in Cerbère (with wide buffer plates for traffic with Spain)

In the 1980s, the French state railways SNCF introduced so-called Cabine 8 cars as a cheap offer , in which each compartment had eight specially shaped reclining seats in the shape of a tub. These wagons could be used without surcharge. However, they did not prove themselves. They have since been rebuilt for other purposes.

In the 1970s, many of the European railroad administrations began to paint their couchette coaches blue with sleeping cars (Czech Republic, France, Belgium, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland) with a greater or lesser proportion of blue.

to form

Couchette cars now offer up to six couches in nine to eleven compartments per car, which can be converted into benches or folded away during the day, as well as a companion compartment. In addition, they are equipped with toilets and washrooms . When couchette companions are drinks and breakfast available (on some trains, including Nightjet the ÖBB is a small breakfast in a couchette supplement included). Couchette coaches can usually be used with second class tickets .

Some railways, including those in France , Hungary and Romania , also offer or offered first-class couchette cars, which then have or had only four berths per compartment (but six seats in the day position).

A special type of couchette car was the cabin couchette in the Talgo night trains in domestic German traffic (until 2009). The seats on either side of the aisle could be converted into a couch, and another one was folded out of the ceiling of the vehicle above. The loungers were only separated from the center aisle with curtains. This design is derived from American Pullman sleeping cars . It is also used on the Malaysian and Thai railways .

In the long-distance trains of the former Soviet Union which are as the cheapest category with reserved roosting place card carriage (: Плацкартный вагон Russian), under which lying in longitudinal and transverse directions are in a metropolitan area. These are often used for day trips.

Some newer night trains, e.g. B. CityNightLine , sleeperette carriages (reclining chair carriages) with adjustable reclining seats in a large room as a cheap category. The attempt to introduce these "reclining seats" as the sole alternative to sleeping cars, however, ended in financial failure. CityNightLine had to reintroduce couchette cars both in the Talgo and in the regular night train connections taken over by the DACH Hotelzug.


In the early years of couchette coach use at the Deutsche Bundesbahn, the German Federal Railroad advertised the new product with the following rhyme :

Even when we were in the cradle,
we dreamed of the couchette car.
Now you can lie in the car at night
and weigh yourself in all positions.

(Official timetable of the Deutsche Bundesbahn, winter 1961/62)

Web links

Commons : couchette cars  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  • Bernd Pintarich & Hermann Heless: "The couchette coaches of the ÖBB", in: Eisenbahnverkehr Aktuell 8/1998, 10/1998

Individual proof

  1. ^ Reichsbahndirektion in Mainz (ed.): Official Gazette of the Reichsbahndirektion in Mainz of October 14, 1922, No. 62. Announcement No. 1167, p. 702f.
  2. Railway Directorate in Mainz (ed.): Official Gazette of the Railway Directorate in Mainz of January 7, 1922, No. 1. Announcement No. 27, p. 13.
  3. Gärtner, A .; The world of travel and work in the 1970s: couchette coach at the German Sleeping Car and Dining Car Company (DSG) - 2018 ISBN 978-3-00-060833-9
  4. Official timetable of the Deutsche Bundesbahn Winter October 1, 1961 - May 26, 1962, 2nd cover page (green) of Part 2 (route timetables 108 to 224)