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East African Railways lightweight sleeping car | Birmingham railway heritage study centre | Birmingham City Council
East african railways lightweight sleeping car model train photograph

East African Railways lightweight sleeping car

In the early 1950s Metro-Cammell were involved in the construction of lightweight aluminium alloy coaches for use on long-distance trains in mountain areas, as well as on the London Underground. This type of carriage was ordered for East African Railways in 1954, and 34 cars (some day, some sleeping) were bought by the Crown Agents for use on long-distance routes in the then colonies of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanganyika. Internally the sleeping car version reflected the social conditions of the time, with separate "European" and "Asiatic" toilets.

A typical train on the Kenya-Uganda line might have included eight or more of these lightweight carriages and six or more freight wagons, hauled by a type 60 Beyer Garratt locomotive. The light construction was necessary for use with big loads on steep gradients.

The dimensions of the scale model on display at the library are: 141cm length x 39cm width x 137cm height, including free-standing glass case. The model only shows exterior detail. It is thought to have been made by apprentices at Metro-Cammell at the same time as the originals.