Post Office Sorting Van

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British Rail Post Office Sorting Van
NSA 80390 'Ernie Gosling' at Doncaster Works.JPG
NSA 80390 "Ernie Gosling" on display at Doncaster Works open day on 27 July 2003. This vehicle was operated by EWS country-wide in the consist of TPO mail trains
In service1959–2004
ManufacturerBR Wolverton & York
Family nameBritish Railways Mark 1
Constructed1959, 1961, 1968–69, 1972–73, 1977
Number built81 (new), 15 (converted from SK)
Operator(s)British Rail
Specifications
Car length64 ft 6 in (19.66 m)
Width9 ft 3 in (2.82 m)
Height12 ft 9+12 in (3.90 m)
Maximum speed90–100 mph (145–161 km/h)
Weight35–39 tonnes (34.4–38.4 long tons; 38.6–43.0 short tons)
HVACDual heat (steam and electric),
ETH 3 or 4
BogiesBR2 or B5
Braking system(s)1959–61 stock: Vacuum,
1968–77 stock: Dual (Air and Vacuum)
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm)

A Post Office Sorting Van is a type of rail vehicle built for use in a Travelling Post Office.

British Rail built ninety-six of these vehicles between 1959 and 1977, to several similar designs, all based on the Mark 1 coach design. They were numbered in the range 80300–80395. The earliest vehicles built featured catching nets and collection arms, to allow mail bags to be exchanged without the train needing to stop, a practice which continued until 1971. Following the Great Train Robbery, vehicles from 80319 onwards featured a revised design with smaller windows.

In the early 1970s, British Rail introduced the TOPS classification system. Vehicles were given the TOPS code NS, followed by an A if they were air-braked, V if vacuum-braked, or an X if they had both air and vacuum brakes.

Preservation[edit]

Several sorting vehicles have been preserved, including examples from most of the big four companies, as well as some from even earlier. There are also several BR Mark 1 vehicles in preservation, including the first-built vehicle, no. 80300; the last vehicle built with large windows, no. 80318; and the final vehicle overhauled by EWS, no. 80382. The complete list is shown below:

British Rail Mk1 TPO sorting vehicles:

Number TOPS Code Name Built Location Notes
80300 NSX - 1959 Wolverton Severn Valley Railway First-built vehicle.
80301 NSX - 1959 Wolverton Great Central Railway -
80307 NSX - 1959 Wolverton Great Central Railway -
80318 NSX - 1961 Wolverton Colne Valley Railway Last vehicle built with large windows.
80327 NSA George James 1969 York Nene Valley Railway -
80328 NSA - 1969 York Severn Valley Railway Used as Santa's Grotto at Arley during December, kept in Kidderminster Carriage Shed for rest of year.
80329 NSA - 1969 York Severn Valley Railway Used as Santa's Grotto at Arley during December, kept in Kidderminster Carriage Shed for rest of year.
80334 NSA - 1969 York Rushden, Higham & Wellingborough Railway -
80337 NSA Brian White 1969 York Nene Valley Railway -
80345 NSA Richard Yeo 1969 York Great Central Railway -
80349 NSA - 1969 York Great Central Railway -
80371 NSA - 1973 York Gwili Railway -
80374 NSA - 1973 York Battlefield Line Railway -
80382 NSA - 1977 Wolverton Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway Rebuilt from SK 25109. Last vehicle ever overhauled by EWS.
80394 NSA - 1977 Wolverton Buckinghamshire Railway Centre Rebuilt from SK 25156.

Pre-nationalisation design TPO sorting vehicles:

Number Company Built Location Notes
70294 LNER 1937 York Great Central Railway Only surviving LNER TPO.
30225 LMS 1939 Wolverton Midland Railway - Butterley -
30272 LMS 1949 Wolverton Nene Valley Railway Formerly in National Collection. Last surviving vehicle from Great Train Robbery set.
4920 Southern 1939 Eastleigh Nene Valley Railway Formerly in National Collection.
4922 Southern 1939 Eastleigh Bluebell Railway
814 GWR 1940 Swindon Didcot Railway Centre

Pre-grouping TPO sorting vehicles:

Number Company Built Location Notes
2178 GNR 1885 Doncaster Nene Valley Railway Only surviving GNR TPO. Six-wheeled.
599 GWR 1889 Swindon St Germans Only surviving broad-gauge TPO vehicle.
20 LNWR 1909 Wolverton Crewe Heritage Centre Later LMS 30244.
186 WCJS 1883 Wolverton National Railway Museum Later LMS 30384.

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