BR Mk2 (early/a/b/c) coaches

Such is the scope of this subject it is not possible to provide definitive coverage so we only aim to give a flavour of this stock.

The British Railways Mark 2 coach design emerged from a design exercise into integral carriage design undertaken by the Western Region's Swindon works in 1958. This followed on from their earlier design and construction of Inter City DMUs. Mark 2 construction was undertaken in distinct stages each being an incremental evolution from Mark 1 design, and these are popularly referred to as sub-marks. Only the early production types and sub-marks a, b and c will be covered here.

The early production Mk 2s entered service in 1965, they were vacuum braked only and their main distinguishing feature was that their vestibule end panels were manufactured in dark green glass fibre. Mk 2a coaches emerged in 1967 and they (and later marks) were air braked with the main distinguishing feature being leaf green glass fibre end vestibule panels and gangway doors. Mk 2b designs were introduced in 1968 and their vestibule end panels and gangway doors were of orange-red glass fibre. Finally the Mk 2c emerged in 1969 and whilst similar to the Mk 2b their interior ceiling was of a different profile and lighting layout to accommodate later installation of air-conditioning (never fitted). Additionally Mk 2b/c coaches are recognisable from the early and Mk 2a designs as they had 3ft wide wrap-around-corner-hinged entrance doors and concertina gangway doors. Additionally Mk2b/c second opens did not the have centre vestibules and entrance doors of the early and Mk 2a designs.

The Southern Region was a recipient of early production side corridor firsts S13387 to S13406. These were supplied in Southern coaching stock green livery (other regions having lined maroon) and were used on the Golden Arrow and Southampton Boat Train services. They were also used on selected steam hauled services and there are published pictures of these coaches on Waterloo-Basingstoke trains in the latter days of steam. Following the withdrawal of steam the Southern Region had its allocation of early Mk 2s converted to air braking.

Thereafter following their early association with the type regular services on the Southern had nothing to do with Mk 2 stock until their introduction by the Western Region on Waterloo to Exeter services from 1978 - this as a result of a cascade of coaching stock on the WR following the introduction of High Speed Trains on their principal services. Although not run in fixed sets as was customary for coach stock on the Southern there were five semi-permanent rakes of nine coaches dedicated to this service. These rakes consisted of Mk 2b second opens (TSO), first corridors (FK) and brake first corridors (BFK) and catering was provided by Mk 2c Micro Buffets (TSOT). Upon sectorisation these rakes were inherited by Network SouthEast who undertook interior refurbishment of the vehicles. In fact the Solent and Sarum sub sector commanded the majority of the NSE Mk2 coach fleet which elevated its services somewhat above the other remaining locomotive hauled NSE services. Although the Southern, by way of its remaining slam door EMUs, is still associated with Mk 1 designs all locomotive hauled passenger stock on the Southern, e.g. Boat Train stock, had become Mk 2 by 1987.

From July 1992 the rakes on Waterloo-Exeter services were reduced to eight coaches when the Micro Buffets were removed and replaced by a trolley service. Then in late September 1992 the rakes were further reduced to seven coaches. In these latter of locomotive hauled operation days four later Mk2 s were introduced into these rakes. Mk 2d TSO 5687, Mk 2e 5795 - these had their Intercity markings removed and NSE flashes were applied next to the coach numbers - plus Mk 2d FKs 13575 and 13563 still running in blue and grey livery. Class 159 DMUs commenced service in spring 1993 and all Mark 2 - indeed all locomotive hauled coaches - had been w ithdrawn by NSE by autumn 1993.

The early Mk 2's weak point was its electrical systems - particularly heating and lighting - which caused availability problems throughout its service life. Because of the potential complexity and expense of restoring a coach of integral construction the type has not found widespread favour amongst preserved railways. However of Southern interest the Mid Hants Railway has a sizeable fleet of mostly ex NSE Mk 2 coaches The Mark 2 design did however have a moderate success with exports, with variants, both new and used, being found in Ireland (both CIE and NIR), Israel, Guinea and New Zealand.

For more information on BR Mark 2 coaches you are strongly advised to read the master work on this subject - the book "British Rail Mark 2 Coaches - the design that launched InterCity, by Michael Harris, published by Mallard/Venture ISBN 1 898432 48 1".

MkII FK Although the Southern had a very early allocation of Mk 2 FKs this NSE example seen at Salisbury on October 19th 1986 is drawn from the Western Region's fleet of Mk 2b stock. This is in the early days of the NSE sector - note the Mk 1 in blue and grey but with NSE flashes next to it.

photograph by Colin Duff

On display during the Network Day at Waterloo on the 22nd November 1986 a Mk 2b TSO and a BFK. Note the characteristic orange-red concertina gangway doors of the Mk 2b/c production. 50035 in the earliest version of the NSE locomotive livery is at the head of the coaches.

photograph by Colin Duff

FK/BFK By 1988 much more coach stock was in NSE livery. Although the coach nearest the camera here at Andover on the 24th September 1988 is a Mk1 TSO the two coaches behind it are a Mk 2b FK and a Mk 2b BFK.

photograph by Colin Duff

Power off and coasting through Polegate early one Saturday morning in June 1988 is an unidentified class 47 diesel with the stock of the Eastbourne - Glasgow train, on its way ECS from Brighton to Eastbourne.

photograph by Mark Westcott

MkII coaches

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This page was last updated 22 March 2011

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