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Prototype train formations in the garden

By Bruce (H&DLR)
So much for the theory, how does this work in practice? 

Saxon narrow gauge

Let's start with this one again:
Here we see a Saxon IVk on the Pöhlwassertalbahn, hauling a typical consist. It's a mixed train, including freight and passenger vehicles, as was normal practice on this line. There's an open wagon behind the locomotive, but it has through braking so that's not a problem. Then there are two passenger coaches - the normal formation for off peak services. Only the workers' train (we're talking communist DDR here, not suburban Surrey commuters) was formed of more.
 The guard's vehicle brings up the rear, with secure mail/parcels accommodation. This ensures that the guard can keep a lookout along the train, can access the passenger coaches, but the mails etc can be secured since passengers do not require access through the guard's compartment.
Here's a very similar service on the H&DLR (Birkental division)... Saxon IVk, open wagon (admittedly a four wheeler rather than a bogie vehicle), two coaches and a van.

Austrian narrow gauge

The Zillertal beer wagon is a popular model. It originated on the ÖBB's Steyrtalbahn but was transferred to the Zillertal after the Steyrtalbahn closed. It only has a balcony and access at one end, the opposite end being the end of the barrel. This has a window but no door. Remember the operating instructions? Because there's no through gangway, it must operate at the end of the train - front or rear, it doesn't matter, but not in the middle.
So what's going here, then? Is this a passenger train, a mixed train or a freight train?
Well, the slightly surprising answer is that it's a freight train. It's normal practice on the Austrian narrow gauge to provide accommodation for travelling shunters. This avoids the need for permanent staff at every station, and also avoids staff travelling on the footplate - undesirable for all sorts of reasons. Generally, a passenger coach tends to be requisitioned - and as we saw on the previous page, most lines aren't exactly short of rolling stock. On the Steyrtalbahn, a coach was converted for the shunters' own use, complete with a coal fired stove. This makes perfect sense - there wouldn't be a train heating supply through the freight wagons and so, with the possibility that the shunters' coach might find itself at the end of the train a long way from any heating, an on board stove is the obvious solution. However, on the branch from Pergern to Sierning, there often wasn't much freight on offer...
This is a typical Steyrtal passenger formation - 3 or 4 four wheelers, plus a van.
Bogie vehicles generally give a better ride than four wheelers, though, and in later years the standard formation was two bogie coaches and a van. On some Austrian lines, they have brake second bogie coaches, with accommodation for the guard within a passenger coach. No such luck if you were a guard on the Steyrtalbahn!