British Rail coach designations

British Rail coach designations

The London, Midland and Scottish Railway and the London and North Eastern Railway both developed a system of identifying railway carriages by means of alphabetic codes. When British Railways was formed in 1948, it decided to adopt the former LNER method of carriage classification.

Basic principles

The codes are made up from a combination of letters, some of which can indicate more than one word; their meaning can only be determined according to their position, or the presence of other letters, in the code. The letters used are:

Code Meaning
B Brake van (prefix)
Buffet (suffix)
Battery (prefix for multiple unit vehicles)
C Composite (i.e. more than one class of accommodation)
D Driving vehicle (prefix)
Disabled accommodation (suffix)
E Either class of accommodation
End vehicle (suffix)
F First Class
G Gangwayed (e.g. BG - Brake Gangwayed)
Griddle (when following R)
H Handbrake
HM Half-motor (prefix on multiple units)
Used for vehicles with one traction motor where the Motor type vehicle in a class usually contained two
K corridor
Kitchen (when following R)
L Lavatory (usually shown only in non-gangwayed or diesel multiple unit codes)
Lounge (prefix) (but see SL)
M Motor (powered) vehicle
Miniature or Modular (when following R)
O Open (i.e. no compartments, or no kitchen in Restaurant cars);
O not included in diesel multiple unit codes as all are Open
o Semi-open (i.e. mix of compartments and open)
P Pantograph (prefix for electric multiple units)
Pantry (suffix)
Pullman (prefix)
Parlour (suffix for Pullman cars)
R Restaurant
S Second (later Standard) Class
SL Sleeper
T Third Class
Trailer (prefix for multiple unit vehicles)
Trolley buffet (suffix)
Tourist (prefix for hauled carriages; indicates 2+2 seating)
U Unclassified accommodation
Y Four-wheeled vehicle*
Z Six-wheeled vehicle*
* If no such suffix is shown, the vehicle is an eight or twelve-wheeled vehicle. The latter were not common, and were usually special saloons or restaurant vehicles.

These letters (except for Y and Z) did not usually apply to the wide variety of passenger-rated but goods carrying vans (e.g. parcels vans, horse boxes, milk and fish vans). Their codes were an acronym of their traditional railway description, e.g. GUV for General Utility Vans.

List of codes used

The following list lists those codes that were actually used on British Railways, cross-referred to the comparable code used by the LMS, with the exception that the letter S ("Second", later "Standard") is used where until 1956 the letter T ("Third") is used. Suffix codes Y or Z are not shown, as these could apply to variants of any or all vehicle types.

In the original LNER coding system, S stood for "Second", an intermediate class between First and Third (which later became Second). The original Second was more or less abolished in the 1870s (as a result of the Railway Regulation Act 1844), remaining only in limited use for special services, such as those meeting ships (which retained the three-class system from which railway classifications had originated). In the 1980s, BR renamed Second to Standard. Many of the classifications listed below are no longer used, and some did not survive until the designation "Standard".

LNER Code Description LMS Code
B Brake
BC Brake Composite
BCK Brake Composite Corridor CBB
BCL Brake Composite Lavatory
BCV BRUTE Carrying Van
BDMBS Battery Driving Motor Brake Standard (Open)
BDMSO Battery Driving Motor Standard Open
BDTCL Battery Driving Trailer Composite (Open) Lavatory
BFK Brake First Corridor E
BFO Brake First Open
BG Brake Gangwayed CBR
BGP Brake Gangwayed Pigeon van
BGZ Brake Gangwayed (6-wheels) CR
BPOT Brake Post Office Stowage Van
BS Brake Standard H
BSK Brake Standard Corridor CH
BSL Brake Standard Lavatory LH
BSO Brake Standard Open VH
BSOT Brake Standard Open Trolley
BUO Brake Unclassified Open
BZ Brake (6-wheels) R
C Composite BC
CCT Covered Carriage Truck
CK Composite Corridor CBC
CL Composite Lavatory LC
CO Composite Open VC
DBSO Driving Brake Standard Open
DM Driving Motor
DMB Driving Motor Brake
DMBC Driving Motor Brake Composite (Open)
DMBCL Driving Motor Brake Composite (Open) Lavatory
DMBFL Driving Motor Brake First (Open) Lavatory
DMBS Driving Motor Brake Standard (Open)
DMBSK Driving Motor Brake Standard Corridor
DMBSL Driving Motor Brake Standard (Open) Lavatory
DMBSO Driving Motor Brake Standard Open
DMC Driving Motor Composite (Open)
DMCL Driving Motor Composite (Open) Lavatory
DMLV Driving Motor Luggage Van
DMPMV Driving Motor Parcels & Miscellaneous Van
DMS Driving Motor Standard (Open)
DMSK Driving Motor Standard Corridor
DMSL Driving Motor Standard (Open) Lavatory
DMSO Driving Motor Standard Open
DTBS Driving Trailer Brake Standard
DTBSO Driving Trailer Brake Standard Open
DTCL Driving Trailer Composite (Open) Lavatory
DTCoL Driving Trailer Composite Semi-Open Lavatory
DTCOL Driving Trailer Composite Open Lavatory
DTS Driving Trailer Standard (Open)
DTSo Driving Trailer Standard Semi-Open
DTSO Driving Trailer Standard Open
DTSOL Driving Trailer Standard Open Lavatory
DVT Driving Van Trailer
F First L
FK First Corridor CL
FL First Lavatory LM
FO First Open QL
FOT First Open Trolley
GUV General Utility Van
HB Horse Box
IFV Insulated Fish Van
LFK Lounge First Corridor
M Motor
MBRSM Motor Brake Restaurant Standard Modular
MBS Motor Brake Standard
MBSK Motor Brake Standard Corridor
MBSO Motor Brake Standard Open
MFLRK Motor First (Open) Lavatory Restaurant Kitchen
MLV Motor Luggage Van
MS Motor Standard (Open)
MSL Motor Standard (Open) Lavatory
MSLRB Motor Standard Lavatory Restaurant Buffet
MSO Motor Standard Open
OCT Open Carriage Truck
PCP Pullman Composite Parlour
PCV Propelling Control Vehicle
PFB Pullman First Brake
PFK Pullman First Kitchen
PFP Pullman First Parlour
PMV Parcels & Miscellaneous Van
POS Post Office Sorting Van POR
POT Post Office Stowage Van PPR
PSB Pullman Standard Brake
PTSO Pantograph Trailer Standard Open
RB Restaurant Buffet BRC
RC Restaurant Composite Compo RKC
RCO Restaurant Composite Open VC Dining
RF Restaurant First First RKC
RFB Restaurant First Buffet
RFM Restaurant First Modular
RFO Restaurant First Open QL Dining
RG Restaurant Griddle
RK Restaurant Kitchen KC
RKB Restaurant Kitchen Buffet BRC
RLO Restaurant Lounge Open
RMB Restaurant Miniature Buffet
RS Restaurant Standard Third RKC
RSO Restaurant Standard Open QF Dining
RU Restaurant Unclassified Common RKC
RUB Restaurant Unclassified Buffet
RUK Restaurant Unclassified Kitchen
RUO Restaurant Unclassified Open
S Standard F
SCV Special Cattle Van
SK Standard Corridor CF
SLC Sleeper Composite CSC
SLE Sleeper Either Class
SLEP Sleeper Either Class with Pantry
SLF Sleeper First SC
SLSTP Sleeper Standard Twin-Berth with Pantry SCT
SLO Standard Lavatory Open (within carriage)
SO Standard Open QF
SPV Special Parcels Van
TBCK Trailer Brake Composite Corridor
TBF Trailer Brake First (Open)
TBFK Trailer Brake First Corridor
TBSK Trailer Brake Standard Corridor
TBSL Trailer Brake Standard (Open) Lavatory
TC Trailer Composite (Open)
TCK Trailer Composite Corridor
TCL Trailer Composite (Open) Lavatory
TCoL Trailer Composite Semi-Open Lavatory
TCOL Trailer Composite Open Lavatory
TCV Tiered Car Van
TF Trailer First (Open)
TFK Trailer First Corridor
TFKRB Trailer First Corridor Restaurant Buffet
TFL Trailer First (Open) Lavatory
TFLRB Trailer First (Open) Lavatory Restaurant Buffet
TFLRK Trailer First (Open) Lavatory Restaurant Kitchen
TFOLH Trailer First Open Lavatory Handbrake
TGS Trailer Guard Standard (Open)
TRB Trailer Restaurant Buffet
TRFB Trailer Restaurant First Buffet
TRFM Trailer Restaurant First Modular
TRSB Trailer Restaurant Standard Buffet
TRUB Trailer Restaurant Unclassified Buffet
TRUK Trailer Restaurant Unclassified Kitchen
TS Trailer Standard (Open)
TSK Trailer Standard Corridor
TSL Trailer Standard (Open) Lavatory
TSLRB Trailer Standard (Open) Lavatory Restaurant Buffet
TSo Trailer Standard Semi-Open
TSO Tourist Standard Open or Trailer Standard Open
TSOL Trailer Standard Open Lavatory
TSORB Trailer Standard Open Restaurant Buffet
TSOT Tourist Standard Open Trolley
TU Trailer Unclassified (Open)
VFV Ventilated Fruit Van

Note that in modern usage, composite semi-open vehicles are classified Cso - the s signifying that the Standard portion is open (implying that the First portion is compartments with corridor).

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