David Larkin continues his comprehensive survey of freight wagons by turning to the British Rail era. Although British Rail technically came into being a few years earlier, 1969 has been chosen as the starting point for this volume as it was the first full year of non-steam operation. 1969 was also the year that large numbers of mineral and hopper coal-carrying wagons began to be totally rebodied, rather than just being patched up.
At the same time, orders were placed for the first air-braked general purpose open and van designs, and a major step forward was the introduction of the TOPS computerised wagon record system in 1972. This greatly simplified wagon codes to three-letters, and enabled each wagon to be tracked.
Vacuum-braked wagons were only built in small numbers and involved conversions, but further air-braked designs appeared, including open wagons, vans, plate wagons, and domestic coal hoppers. The air-braked fleet was separated from other wagons, firstly by code (ABN), and then by name – Railfreight. Compatible privately-owned wagons operated with BR-owned stock on set routes, echoing the old Condor and Speedlink services and on a par with Freightliner services.
Profusely illustrated, like the earlier books in the series, this book includes lot and diagram details, wagon number ranges, builders and livery details.