What are the diff types of wagons? – [Main] Indian Railways


Today, we will be talking about how many types of wagons are there, on which the big works are done – like transporting passengers and freight on land. Obviously they are used by respective railways of countries around the world, however I being an INDIAN would like to focus on main categories of wagons used in India – however those wagon will still give you a fair knowledge of which wagon has what purpose? and where is which one used? and for what? You will get a free pdf below this article about the whole study!

Starting Up – Types Of Wagons [Main]

Freight Wagons

Milk wagon

Tank Wagons

Passenger Wagons

Military consignments wagons

Aluminium & Cement wagons

So now lets dive deeper and understand how many subcategories these different types of wagons have-

Freight Wagon

Image Copyright belongs to wallpaperflare.com

Freight wagons are used to carry- we know GOODS.

These are unpowered vehicles used for transporting cargo. These are fitted with standardized couplers, air brake hoses etc enabling different type of wagons to be coupled together in the form of a train. Most of the coal carrying trains have about 59 wagons and a brake van for the guard. The limitation in length is due to the length of the loop lines at stations.

Initially Railways had four wheeler wagons but with changes in technology increasing number of specialized wagons have been developed which have a higher payload to tare ratio. This signifies the weight of commodities carried by the wagon to its own weight. Since 1990 IR has stopped carrying single wagon consignments, these are carried mostly in containers.

Markings & Symbols

There are many different types of wagon markings which helps to identify their Zonal Range, Capacity, Date of Return and Commercial details etc.

The Wagons in Indian Railways are classified into 4 main categories, further they have more sub-categories to observe.

Open Wagons:

BOXN Open Wagon Example – Images may be subjected to copyright, don’t reuse them without credit.
  • BOX, High-sided Bogie Open wagons with side discharge arrangement for loading of Coal and other bulk traffic. A suffix N after BOX specifies air brakes. BOXNHA implies High-sided Bogie Open wagons with higher axle load.
  • BOY (Low sided Bogie Open wagons to load Iron Ore) and BOBS & BOBX (Bogie Open hopper wagons with bottom discharge arrangement to carry ballast, ores, etc.)
  • BFR / BRH (Bogie flat wagon),
  • BFU (Bogie flat well type wagon)
  • BLCA & BLCB Bogie Low Platform Container wagons.

Covered Wagons:

Covered BCNA Wagon Example
  • BCN/BCNA (Special type bogie covered wagon with higher CC and air brake
  • BCCN Double Decker Bogie Covered wagon for loading of automobile cars

Tank Wagons:

Tank Wagon Example. Image Source – Wikipedia
  • BTPN (Bogie Tank wagons for loading of Petrol, Naphtha & other Petroleum products)
  • TK (Tank wagon for kerosene loading),TG (Tank wagon suitable for bulk transportation of Liquefied Petroleum Gas)

Special Purpose wagons:

Steel Rolls On freight Train – Wikipedia

  • Milk wagon: The Horizontal Cylindrical insulated Rail Milk tanker of 40,000 litres capacity is suitable for transportation of chilled milk at 4 degree Celsius. The inside barrel is made of stainless steel and allows carrying of dairy milk without any contamination. The outside barrel is insulated thereby making the tanker safe for carrying chilled milk at high speed even attached to passenger trains.
  • Military consignments wagons
  • Aluminium & Cement wagons: These wagons are provided with two chambers at the bottom for discharge of the load by means of air fluidising system.

I hope you have got a good understanding about basic terms, symbols and markings used by railways and what are the main types of wagons. If you have any doubt on any topic kindy login and message me or you can drop a comment below 🙂

Based on the basic structure Indian
Railways has following types of coaches.

1. IRS Coach
2. ICF Coach
3. BEML Coach
4. LHB Coach

1. IRS COACHES (Old – I mean very old) i can’t even find a photo

  1. Steel Under Frame,
    2. Wooden Body,
    3. Laminated Springs in primary suspension and coil springs in secondary suspension,
    4. Tyred Wheels

2. ICF COACHES (Started from 1955) Features

They have a metal shell above them always. That silvery shell. they look like the image in background. the blue wagons are called ICF class wagons.

  1. Integral All Metal Design
  2. Design from Schelieren,Switzerland(1954).Original Design
  3. Anti telescopic
  4. All coil springs
  5. Air brakes/Vacuum brake
  6. Self aligning spherical Roller bearings
  7. Stainless steel body for anti corrosion
  8. Better riding comforts

Cross Sectional View Of ICF Coach

Shell End – Construction of ICF Coach

Wheel Configuration & Measurements.


The photo below is an example of BEML coach they are basically metro coaches.

1. Just after independence, acute shortage of coaches
2.Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) entered into a deal with M.A.N of Germany to produce all steel coaches
3. Model 404 and 407 with centre lav , all third on IRS under frame
4. First integral coach 41 series recognizable by small window on the toilet
5. This business transferred to BEML in 1970
6. Their floor level slightly higher than the ICF
7. BEML coaches are mostly decommissioned.


•Shell manufactured by LHB and bogie by FIAT based
on EUROFIMA concept
•Speed potential 160 kmph can be raised to 200 kmph
•AAR ‘H’ type tight lock coupler
•Window with double glazing with inert gas in between
•Noise and heat insulation
•Two microprocessor roof mounted air conditioned unit

• Axle mounted EP type disc brake with wheel slide
•Interlocking type of joint between vertical and
longitudinal stiffener
•Use of stainless steel to minimise corrosion
•Modular design interior
•Hygienic toilets with controlled discharge
•Spherical roller bearings

Bogie General Sectional view.

Symbols Used By Indian Railways to classify different Wagons

Q. How are freight cars classifed by IR?

The following codes are used now for classifying freight cars. The classification scheme is not entirely systematic. Older wagons especially have codes that are not easily explained in this way. But in general an optional gauge code is followed by a type code which is followed by an indication of the coupler and whether the wagon is air-braked.

  • Gauge code
    • M : (prefix) MG
    • N : (prefix) NG
  • Wagon type code
    • B : (prefix) Bogie wagon (sometimes omitted)
    • BV : Brake van
    • V : Brake/parcel van (see above for brake van codes)
    • O : Open wagon (gondola)
    • C : Covered wagon (boxcar)
    • F : Flat car
    • FK : Flat car for container transport
    • FU : Well wagon
    • LA : Low flat car with standard buffer height
    • LB : Low flat car with low buffer height
    • LAB : Low flat car, one end with low buffers, the other with high buffers
    • R : Rail-carrying wagon
    • T : Tanker (additional letters indicate material carried)
    • U : Well wagon
    • W : Well wagon
    • K : Open wagon: ballast / material / refuse transport (older wagons)
    • C : Centre discharge
    • S : Side discharge
    • R : Rapid (forced) discharge, bottom discharge
    • X : Both centre and side discharge
    • X : (also?) High sided
    • Y : Low (medium?) side walls
    • L : Low sided
    • H : Heavy load

The ‘B’ indication is sometimes omitted as all new wagons are bogie stock.

Following the type code in the classification code a letter may denote the type of coupler, nowadays optional, as all new freight cars are fitted with centre buffer couplers (CBC). An ‘N’ suffix is for ‘pneumatic’, or air-braked wagons. Most newer stock that is air-braked also has CBC couplers, so the ‘C’ is usually dropped. E.g., BOXN for air-braked BOX wagons, not BOXCN. Almost all the older stock is vacuum-braked.

  • Coupler, brake, and other suffixes:
    • C = Centre buffer coupler (CBC)
    • R = Screw coupling only
    • T = Transition coupler (CBC with additional side buffers and screw coupling)
    • N = Air-braked
    • M = (suffix) Military

Most wagons are made of steel, except for a few special-purpose wagons. Some specialized wagons have been made with stainless steel or special steel alloys to reduce corrosion. Some Recently [12/04] with the rising price of steel IR has been looking into using steel substitutes, and plans have also been drawn up for the production of aluminium-body wagons (see BOBNAL, BOBRAL below). It is thought that about 750 aluminium wagons will be built in 2005-2006. Interestingly, some of these are said to be of a 4-wheel design. The tare weight is expected to be reduced by about 4.2 tonnes. A few aluminium wagons are already in use on a trial basis. Aluminium wagons besides being of a lower cost and having a lower tare weight, also have the advantage of suffering less corrosion in many circumstances. A typical rake with aluminium wagons instead of steel ones would carry almost 240t more goods.

Study PDF:

Study Sources:

(i) http://www.blog.indianrailways.gov.in/

(ii) Figures are taken from Indian Railways Annual Report & Accounts 2012-13.

(iii) Images obtained from Google images and irfca

(iv) Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Railways, date 11.04.2014 and report of NTDPC, Planning Commission.

(v) https://www.irfca.org/

(vi) featured image by: Photo by Sawyer Bengtson on Unsplash

Aditya Gaurav

Aditya Gaurav

Simple man, evolving every jiffy.