All standard gauge Commonwealth Railways rollingstock was divided into the following groups
The vehicles in each group were numbered consecutively in order of introduction regardless of class. Narrow gauge rollingstock had similar classifications and groupings to standard gauge except all stock was prefixed with "N". When a vehicle was converted from one class to another in the same group (say from a ballast wagon to a tank wagon) it would retain the same number, but the class letters would be changed to reflect its new use. When a vehicle was converted from one group to another group (say from goods to a passenger vehicle) it would have both number and class changed. It would be struck off the list of the original group. An example of this was "NHRB 57" which when transferred to standard gauge was recoded "HRC 109".
The passenger stock was arranged for bogie stock with a suffix "S" being added to denote 4 wheel vehicles. No special letters were allocated to indicate stock having lavatories, corridors or vestibules as it was assumed that all carriages were fitted with these facilities.
|(C)||First and Second class|
|J||Steam motor coach|
|(S)||4 wheel stock|
|This table contains a list of the original meaning of the vehicle classification codes. Items in "()" are used as a suffix only.|
|A||1st class car with seats only|
|AB||1st and 2nd class car with seats only|
|ABR||1st and 2nd class car with seats and sleeping berths.|
|AF||1st class lounge car|
|AFR||Special service car (with sleeping and saloon accomodation only)|
|AR||1st class car with seats and sleeping berths|
|ARP||1st class car with seats and sleeping berths and end platforms|
|B||2nd class car with seats only|
|BR||2nd class car with seats and sleeping berths|
|BRP||2nd class car with seats and sleeping berths and end platforms|
|BRPF||2nd class car with seats, sleeping berths, platform ends and saloon.|
|ABP||1st and 2nd class car with seats and platform ends|
|E||Mail sorting van|
|Note: The "E" code for passenger vehicles was eventually used for employee vans rather than mail sorting. The goods vehicle classification system has "E" as employee vans.|
|H||Passenger brake van|
|HA||Passenger brake van with 1st class seating|
|HAR||Passenger brake van with 1st class sleeping berths|
|HB||Passenger brake van with 2nd class seating|
|HE||Passenger brake van with mail sorting compartment|
|HM||Passenger brake van with bulk mail compartment|
|HR||Passenger brake van with attendants sleeping berths|
|M||Bulk mail van|
|ME||Bulk mail van with mail sorting compartment|
|O||Hospital and ambulance van|
|SS||Special service car (with saloon, sleeping, kitchen and dining facilities)|
|TBP||Temporary 2nd class car with seats only and end platforms|
|Note: Unclassified vehicles included the pay car, inspection and eye-sight testing van and laboratory car|
The rules for transfer of standard gauge carriages to narrow gauge, as documented in the 1950 Commonwealth Railways General Appendix, were that the original standard gauge number was retained, but if the coding already exists on the narrow gauge then the next available coding is used. Upon reversion to standard gauge the original coding is again allotted. The additional coding was written as a smaller sized letter until the mid 50's when a normal capital was used.
From the 1950 onwards this original system, based on Victorian Railway practice was substantially modified. The rules for transfer of Standard Gauge carriages to Narrow Gauges were altered so that the original Standard Gauge number was retained, but if the coding already existed on the Narrow Gauge then the next available coding was used. Upon reversion to Standard Gauge the original coding was again allotted.
After Australian National took over the old Commonwealth Railways rollingstock they initially maintained the classification system in a form similar to that used by the Commonwealth Railways. Following the introduction of the computerised wagon system in 1984 the old classification was replaced by an ad-hock system where almost anything went as long as that classification is not currently in use. This lead to the following non-standard classifications.
As part of the introduction of a computerised computer system in 1984, Australian National introduced a computer check letter following the rollingstock classification and number as through it was part of the car classification, but it was never actually used as part of the classification. It is still used today as part of the standard wagon classification system. It is a computer generated code that is entered on consist forms so that the classification and rollingstock number can be checked for accuracy. The number can be generated easily and I hav not kept track of it for historical purposes. For example, the Governors car is always referred to as "SSA260" not "SSA260H".
You can generate any check letter by using the "Check Letter Program" on the main menu.