Passenger cars

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Replica from 1935 of a passenger car of the third  car class of the Ludwig Railroad , the original under the direction of engineer Paul Camille Denis was
RhB passenger car
Passenger car interior of a Belgian I11 car
3rd class two-axle passenger car of the SBB, today part of the DVZO inventory
four-axle narrow-gauge passenger car of the Kambarka , 750 mm
Former DB conversion car based on a Prussian compartment car, again converted into a construction caravan by the Syrian CFS

Passenger cars are railway vehicles that can be used by people in rail traffic - in contrast to freight cars .


The passenger cars include non-powered:

  • Passenger coaches
  • other passenger cars

Of passenger cars is called only when railroads . In Germany, the term sidecar is used for trams , while in Switzerland a trailer is used. Non-powered wagons in railroad multiple units are also called sidecars, intermediate wagons or (if a control compartment is available) control cars . Likewise, the designation sidecar used to be common on many secondary and local railways as well as small railways .

Passenger coaches

A passenger carriage is a railway carriage intended for the transport of people in tourist traffic . As a rule, they are therefore rail vehicles used for general public traffic . Exceptionally, passenger carriages are not used in general rail service, for example government-owned or private saloon cars .

There are different types of passenger coaches in terms of interior design and thus their function:

  • Compartment cars have compartments with seats, beds or beds.
  • In contrast, open-plan cars have a passenger compartment that extends over the entire car or has a few individual passenger compartments for a large number of passengers. In Europe they are usually only available as seating cars, on the railways of the former Commonwealth of Independent States , in China and other countries also as couchette cars .

There are also:

The wagons are identified by letters according to the standard of the international association of railways ; their composition is described in more detail in the UIC car number .

The details of the car's equipment are generally based on the car class . The higher the class, the more space and comfort the individual passenger is offered, and the more expensive the ticket becomes . As a rule, new comfort is first introduced in the highest class and then later also asserts itself in the lower class (es). This applies, for example, to lighting , heating , toilets , air conditioning and also the number of seats in a compartment or their arrangement. There are also trolleys or trolley areas with special functions to transport luggage or bicycles .

Examples of well-known passenger coaches:

Other passenger cars

Baggage cart
Optional car

Other passenger cars are not used for general travel, but either for rail operations or are (also) carried on passenger trains:

In 1999 there were 15,300 passenger cars at the railway companies in Germany.

historical development

Contemporary representation of the Experiment , the first railroad passenger car in the history of the Stockton and Darlington Railway from 1825

Car body and underframe

Express train passenger cars for the Gotthard Railway Company (GB) - the first all-steel passenger cars in Europe

At the beginning, the underframes were wooden beams, some with iron reinforcements, the so-called trusses . The superstructures consisted of a wooden frame that was covered with boards and, on the outside, with sheet metal. The first passenger cars were between six and eight meters long; but the car sizes increased rapidly. The Württemberg through cars from 1845 were already 14.2 meters long.

However, steadily increasing travel speeds soon showed the limits of the design principles largely adopted from traditional coach-wagon construction. Despite iron reinforcements, the wooden frames were not able to withstand the tensile and shock loads in railway operations at high speeds over the long term. The connections loosened and the frames warped. From 1859 onwards, the frame was made entirely from screwed or riveted steel profiles. The superstructures, especially the supporting framework, continued to consist mainly of wood. In the event of accidents, the weaknesses of this design were particularly evident in the Prussian and Saxon compartment wagons with numerous openings (doors). For example, the not very resilient superstructure could not withstand the forces that occurred in the event of an overturning, but instead shattered into its individual parts, without offering the passengers any kind of protection.

The first passenger cars made entirely of steel in Europe were delivered by Van der Zypen & Charlier to the Gotthard Railway (GB) from 1896 , followed by the cars for the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS). In addition to the steel underframe without trussing, these wagons had side walls that were designed as a load-bearing structure below the window sills.

In Germany, the first all-steel cars were delivered to the Prussian State Railways in 1912 . This railway had been using steel underframes for the compartment wagons for a long time, but for the long four- and six-axle 1st and 2nd class express train wagons the classic construction with frame and box made entirely of wood, as was common in North America at the time. The transition to steel construction was also necessary in Germany because suitable wood for the side members was no longer available in Germany and had to be imported from abroad. In America, the metro accident at Couronnes station in 1903 triggered a change of mind, so that in 1913 practically only steel cars were procured.

landing gear

Appenzell Railway passenger car from 1886

In the early days of the railway, passenger carriages were manufactured with two or three leaf-sprung wheel sets . As the vehicles got longer, bogies were used to move around curves . In America, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) was the pioneer in terms of eight-wheel passenger cars, in Germany the design was first used by the Königlich Württembergische Staats-Eisenbahnen (KWSt.E.) from 1845, in Switzerland from 1886 by the Appenzeller Bahn . Today passenger coaches are usually built with four axles and bogies.

Passenger compartment

Compartment car

Prussian compartment car, built in 1902

In Europe they were very similar in structure and appearance to contemporary carriages ; Depending on the size of the car, several non-interconnected compartments had access only through external doors (compartment car of the so-called English system). Unlike locomotives, they were mostly made by coach builders.

Open-plan car

In contrast to the European passenger car of the early days with a number of closed individual compartments accessible through outer doors, what was known as the intercommunication car was used from the start, not least because of the long travel distances in North America. Like today's open-plan cars, the historic American car could be entered via platforms at the ends of the car, and it was also possible to use the platforms to pass between the cars while driving. The benches were arranged on both sides of a central aisle so that the passengers could get up and move around during the journey. Contemporaries such as Mark Twain or Edmund Heusinger von Waldegg described the unrest caused by the central aisle and the larger number of people in the same room as a disadvantage of this type of wagon .

Compartment car with side aisle

Heusinger von Waldegg succeeded in combining the advantages of both wagon systems, ie greater peace and quiet in the wagon thanks to closed compartments and the possibility of going back and forth in the wagon or changing wagons, with his "new" introduced in 1870 in the organ for the advancement of railways Coupé car system with intercommunication ”. In this case, the compartments were connected to one another by a side corridor, as in the modern through-car with compartments on one side of the car, transitions in the middle of the car ends also allowed the car to be changed during the journey, e.g. to reach a dining car .

Double deck car

In order to increase the seating capacity when the train length is limited, double-decker coaches have been developed. Even at the stage coaches were on the roof next to driver's seat sometimes additional seats for travelers appropriate, but there was no roof over these additional seats. In Germany, the first double-deck coaches were introduced to the Altona-Kieler Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft in 1868, in Austria in 1873 to the Staats-Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft (StEG) and in Switzerland in 1872 to the Bödelibahn .


The brakes were made of poplar or linden wood, block brakes that acted on the wheel tread and were operated by hand via spindles from the car or from the car roof, but not all cars were equipped with them. Initially there were no heaters, toilets or lighting.

With regard to the braking of the wagons, the spindle brakes, which had to be operated manually by a braking man on board at a whistle signal from the train driver, remained for a long time, even though the use of steel or cast iron brake shoes instead of wooden blocks gradually became established. In order not to have to use a brakeman for every car, only individual cars were braked on passenger trains. In 1885, depending on the gradient, it was still permitted that only every second to eighth wheel set of a passenger train was braked.


The American car type, however, made it possible to set up a stove in the car and heat it that way, albeit unevenly and not without danger because of the open fire. In the compartment cars, on the other hand, there were comparatively inadequate metal containers with hot water, similar to hot water bottles, or there were baskets with glowing coals that were placed in compartments under the seats from the outside. It was not until around 1870 that steam heating with steam generated by the locomotive was used. However, the system was still not satisfactory: the car attendants had to measure the temperature in the last compartment before the train left and report it to the train driver, who noted it in the journey report, and at the end of the 19th century the heat output was insufficient to control the car heat so that the water in containers and pipes does not freeze. It had to be drained when it was frosty and water jugs were provided for the travelers. Because of the better heating in the then modern express train cars, the water there only had to be drained at −5 ° C.

Exterior doors

The entry and exit doors of the compartment cars opened outwards. Before leaving, it had to be ensured that all doors on the car were closed. To prevent accidental opening of the doors, the doors in Great Britain only had a doorknob on the outside, so that the window had to be opened first to be able to press the doorknob before getting out.

At the end of the 1920s, the first trains with door control went into operation at SBB . For this purpose the Fe 4/4 18517 and 18518 were used together with adapted passenger cars. The system worked with an electrical control and compressed air. The doors were by the driver shot to be had, but not locked while driving. Door blocking while driving was introduced from the 1960s . In the 1970s, the Eurofima wagons were used for the first time in international traffic. They could be opened by travelers at the push of a button.


From 1860 toilets were gradually built into passenger coaches. One of the reasons for this was that, due to the lack of passage in the compartment cars, the toilet could only have been reached while the train was at a standstill in the station. Until the 1990s, the toilets were designed as so-called open toilets - an outhouse with flushing water that emptied feces and urine through a hole in the floor of the car directly onto the track.

With the introduction of high-speed traffic, most railways switched to closed toilets , in which the faeces are collected in a tank. The open toilets are not suitable for speeds over 160 km / h because at these speeds excrement and urine no longer get into the track structure, but are distributed in the undercarriage of the vehicle, where they cause corrosion damage. There is also the risk that the contents can be thrown back into the toilet bowl under unfavorable pressure conditions such as train encounters in tunnels. Recirculation toilets known from the aircraft sector are used on TGV trains, while toilets with fresh water pressure flushing and vacuum suction are used on the Deutsche Bundesbahn. The feces are collected in a tank that must be emptied every two to five days.

Toilets with bioreactors are used on a large scale at SBB. This type works in a similar way to a sewage treatment plant : the solids from the toilet wastewater are retained by a filter and broken down by an added microorganism culture. In a sanitation unit, the water is treated with heat and UV rays before it is released into the open during the journey. This process is harmless because the water reaches EU bathing water quality . The additional costs for the much more complicated system are amortized after around five years of operation, as the solids collection tank only needs to be emptied every six months.


The interior lighting of the cars began with oil lamps . Gas lighting was introduced in the second half of the 19th century. This was a particularly high risk in accidents because of the risk of fire and explosion. With both types of lighting, operation (lighting the lamps and extinguishing) and maintaining the burners were relatively complex. All of this was simplified with the electric train lighting that was introduced from the late 19th century. The conversion of the wagon fleet dragged on over decades. With the electric lighting, operation was now mostly limited to switching it on and off - but this was also initially carried out by the staff in the rhythm that is familiar from the gas lighting. In 1934, the Reich Railway Directorate in Mainz warned that the lighting should also be switched on when driving through tunnels.

See also

Web links

Commons : Passenger Cars  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  • 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, [PDF; accessed on June 8, 2016]).


  1. See, for example, the railway accident in Mühlheim am Main in 1900 or the railway accident in Bellinzona in 1924.

Individual evidence

  1. Mück, Wolfgang: Germany's first railway with steam power. The royal privately owned Ludwig Railway between Nuremberg and Fürth . ( Dissertation at the University of Würzburg ). Fürth 1985 (2nd revised edition), pp. 115-126
  2. Wolfhard Weber: Shortening of time and space, techniques without balance between 1840 and 1880 . In: Proyläaen history of technology, Volume IV: Networks, steel and electricity . Ullstein, Berlin 1997, ISBN 3-549-07113-2 , p. 185
  3. a b [SN]: Iron passenger coaches . In: Schweizerische Bauzeitung . 1916, doi : 10.5169 / seals-33054 ( [accessed June 30, 2019]).
  4. ^ Double sheet metal frame - Württemberg (passenger car), from 1845. In: Freight car bogies. Hermann Jahn, accessed on June 30, 2019 .
  5. ^ Hermann Jahn: Half-timbered Switzerland (Neuhausen) 1886. In: Freight car bogies. Retrieved June 30, 2019 .
  6. Heinrich Krohn: … on the rails. The history of passenger coaches and freight cars . Anniversary band of the Talbot wagon factory in Aachen on the occasion of the 150th anniversary, Prestel, Munich 1988, p. 74
  7. Heinrich Krohn: … on the rails. The history of passenger coaches and freight cars . Anniversary band of the Talbot wagon factory in Aachen on the occasion of the 150th anniversary, Prestel, Munich 1988, p. 73ff
  8. Heinrich Krohn: … on the rails. The history of passenger coaches and freight cars . Anniversary volume of the Talbot wagon factory in Aachen on the occasion of the 150th anniversary, Prestel, Munich 1988, pp. 47–51
  9. Heinrich Krohn: … on the rails. The history of passenger coaches and freight cars . Anniversary band of the Talbot wagon factory in Aachen on the occasion of the 150th anniversary, Prestel, Munich 1988, p. 77f
  10. ^ Eisenbahndirektion Mainz (Ed.): Collection of the published official gazettes of March 15, 1902. Volume 6, No. 12, Announcement No. 116, p. 80
  11. Eisenbahndirektion Mainz (Ed.): Collection of the published official gazettes from July 28, 1900. Volume 4, No. 34. Announcement No. 319, p. 236
  12. ^ Bruno Lämmli: Passenger cars from 1950. In: 2015, accessed June 30, 2019 .
  13. Heinrich Krohn: … on the rails. The history of passenger coaches and freight cars . Anniversary band of the Talbot wagon factory in Aachen on the occasion of the 150th anniversary, Prestel, Munich 1988, p. 59
  14. Bundesregierung Deutschland (Ed.): Answer of the federal government to the small question of the deputy Weiss (Munich) and the faction of the Greens . ( [PDF]).
  15. ^ A b Matthias Handschein, Karl Bleicher: Operation, technology and maintenance of the toilets with bioreactors at SBB AG . In: ZEV rail Glasers Annalen (Ed.): Proceedings SFT Graz 2005 . S. 236-241 .
  16. Deutsche Reichsbahn-Gesellschaft (Ed.): Official Gazette of the Reichsbahndirektion Mainz of March 24, 1934, No. 15. Announcement No. 168, p. 60.