Carriage and Wagon numbering

As with locomotives, carriages and wagons frequently carried more than one number during their working life. Renumbering mainly came about as a result of Nationalisation in 1947 but could also arise from changes of use, for example from revenue earning service to Departmental use.



For rolling stock inherited from the ‘Big 4’ at nationalisation, BR initially retained the same number but allocated a prefix according to where it originated (E=LNER, M=LMS, S=Southern, W=GWR).[1]

From 1951, new BR carriages were given a prefix to indicate the region to which the carriage was allocated (a carriage could have carried more than one prefix if transferred between regions during service):[2]

  • E = Eastern region
  • M = London Midland region
  • S = Southern region
  • SC = Scottish region
  • W = Western region
  • NE = North Eastern region (carriages began with an E prefix, later changing to NE, and reverting to E when the North Eastern region merged into the Eastern region in 1968)
  • GE = Great Eastern electrified lines within the Eastern region, carried for a time in the 1960s

Although normally referred to by number alone, BR era carriages on the SVR carry this prefix .

From 1951, the inherited carriages also received a similar prefix, with a suffix being used to indicate the region of origin. Generally the SVR portrays its rolling stock from the ‘Big 4’ era in the original livery without this prefix, although an example of the latter type of numbering may be seen on GWR 80972 Inspection Saloon which carries the number W80972W.

Departmental vehicles

Departmental vehicles are items of rolling stock that are used to support the railway’s engineering functions rather than for general passenger or goods traffic. They are often converted from revenue earning stock but may also be built specifically for non-revenue earning purposes.

BR initially numbered departmental stock inherited at nationalisation with a regional prefix (eg DE, DM, DS or DW). From 1967 this became DB regardless of region. A prefix could also be allocated to indicate the use of the vehicle, for example ‘A’ represented Mechanical & Electrical Engineers. Thus during its later use as a breakdown tool van, GWR 5804 Brake Third became ADW150304.

TOPS codes for Departmental vehicles were in the ranges:

  • Yxx: Departmental bogie wagons
  • Zxx: Departmental two-axle carriage or wagon

Internal User vehicles

Internal user vehicles are items of rolling stock that are used for internal purposes at one fixed location from which they are unlikely to move. An example of a wagon on the SVR which previously served an Internal User role is 80990 which finished its working life as a waste oil storage tank at the Landore Diesel Depot.

UIC numbers

Modern railway stock is numbered using UIC Numbers, also referred to as RIV (Regolamento Internazionale Veicoli) numbers or EVNs (European Vehicle Numbers). These are a Europe-wide standard method of allocating a unique number to individual items of railway rolling stock. The UIC number consists of 12 digits:

  • Digits 1-2: The Exchange/Interoperability Code (simplistically the high-level type of vehicle)
  • Digits 3-4: Country Code
  • Digits 5-8: Vehicle type/class (digit 5) and sub-class
  • Digits 9-11: Individual serial number
  • Digit 12: Self-check digit

Taking as an example one of the GBRf IIA hoppers which took part in the Goods Gala in June 2018, the wagon was numbered 8170 0659 032-4. This gives the following information:

  • 81: denotes a Bogie wagon, fixed gauge, railway undertaking owned, non-TSI compliant
  • 70: denotes United Kingdom
  • 0659: 0, equivalent to Type code category letter "T", denotes a Goods Wagon with an Opening Roof. The next 3 digits are the sub-class
  • 032-4: Individual wagon serial number 032 and check digit 4

The number may be shown with different spacing (for example 81070 659032-4) or displayed on several different lines.

Even small items of on-track plant (classed as 'special vehicles') may be allocated an RIV/EVN number, such as the SVR's mobile elevating work platform (99709 942098-3)

See also