V & SAR Second Class Sitting Car BE42

South Australian Railways

Broad Gauge


Class operators                                                   South Australian Railways

Condition                                                             Excellent

Provenance                                                         V & SAR

Ownership                                                           Port Dock Station Railway Trust

Built by                                                                S.A.R Islington Workshops

Entered service                                                   29th October 1923

Condemned                                                        16th October 1974

Entered the museum                                          16th April 1975

Length (over coupling points)                             73’ 8’’ (22.45m)

Bogie centres                                                     53’ 10’’ (16.4 metres)

Height                                                                13’ 8’’ (4.17 metres)

Width                                                                  9’ 6’’ (2.9 metres)

Seating capacity                                                 72


In the early 1900s a rolling stock programme was agreed upon between the Victorian and South Australian Railways to provide more modern and considerably larger passenger cars for use on the express trains between Adelaide and Melbourne, to replace the original jointly owned cars placed in service between 1886 and 1890.

Between 1906 and 1923 a total of 44 vehicles of matching design were constructed at both Newport and Islington Workshops. The complement comprised 14 first class sleeping cars, 10 first class sitting cars, 10 second class sitting cars, 6 brake vans, 2 mail sorting vans and 2 mail baggage vans. After the initial construction between 1906 and 1908 of 4 sleeping cars, 6 each first and second class sitting cars, 4 brake vans and the mail sorting and baggage vans, the 1907/1908 South Australian Railways Report stated, ‘The new express train, as a whole, so far as accommodation is concerned, forms one of the best in the Commonwealth, and is probably equal to any other train in the world’.

Sleeping cars and first class sitting cars were constructed at Newport Workshops, Victoria, as well as the mail sorting and baggage vans, while the second class sitting cars and brake vans were constructed at Islington Workshops, South Australia (except that the first two jointly owned brake vans were constructed at Newport and exchanged with two constructed at Islington, these latter two became Victorian vehicles).

Whilst the sleeping cars were not numbered or classified, but named after rivers in Victoria and South Australia, the first and second class sitting cars and the brake vans were classified and numbered with similar vehicles which the Victorian Railways built for internal use in Victoria. The mail van classifications also followed the Victorian Railways’ principles. During 1910, the Victorian classification system was simplified and these latter classifications were carried by joint stock vehicles until they were condemned. The original and later classifications were:

First class sitting cars – ‘AVE’ then ‘AE’

Second class sitting cars – ‘BVE’ then ‘BE’

Brake vans – ‘DVE’ then ‘CE’

Mail baggage vans – ‘EEB’ then ‘D’

Mail sorting vans – ‘EES’ then ‘DS’ (later ‘D’ when mail sorting en route ceased)

Alterations to the passenger carrying cars were few during their life, although the cars built between 1906 and 1908 originally had gas lighting while all cars and vans had underframe alterations for the fitting of automatic couplers in the mid-1930s. Also, for the 1936 Centenary of South Australia, the joint stock vehicles were painted green and yellow with black horizontal lining, this colour scheme being maintained until construction of the air-conditioned cars in 1949. The title ‘The Overland’ in chrome plate letters was affixed to the letter board on each side of the passenger carrying cars when the green colour scheme was introduced.

BE42 is one of the later second class cars and was issued to traffic from Islington Workshops on 29th October 1923. It is one of two jointly owned passenger carrying cars which had steel protection panels affixed over the original tongue and groove timber exterior sheathing (the ‘Onkaparinga’ was the other car and the ‘CE´s’ and ‘D’ vans had partial sheathing).

Visit the NRM

76 Lipson Street
Port Adelaide
South Australia  5015
Open Daily / 10am – 4:30pm





5-15 yrs & with an adult


2 adults & up to 3 children


  • Prices may vary for special events
  • EFTPOS is preferred payment method
  • Open from 12pm on ANZAC Day
  • Closed Christmas Day

Phone: 8341 1690

The National Railway Museum acknowledges the Kaurna people as the traditional owners and custodians of the Adelaide Plains. We honour and respect their ongoing cultural and spiritual connections to this country. We aim to respect the cultural heritage, customs and beliefs of all Indigenous people.

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