Development in Prussia
Until about 1880, four-wheeled compartment coaches were typical. After the end of the wave of nationalisations the Prussian state railways, around 1895, acquired the quieter-running six-wheelers. For this, so-called norms were established for four-, six- and, later, eight-wheeled classes of coach. For the six-wheelers, both fixed axle and sliding axle designs were envisaged. Those coaches designed specifically for suburban traffic (Berlin, Hamburg) had no toilets. On the other coaches, a gangway was specified in order to keep the number of toilets to a minimum for economic reasons. Numerous coaches had therefore to be converted. After the end of the 19th century, fourth class compartment coaches were also procured.
Four- and six-wheeled compartment coaches were initially used in all train categories on main lines. With the advent of the D-Zug express coaches in 1892, compartment coaches were deployed in passenger trains on main lines and in built-up areas. Here, it became abundantly clear, that in addition a faster turn round of passengers, that access to station platforms on main lines could only be permitted if passengers had valid tickets and that trains could not be boarded until shortly before their departure. So ticket checking by the guard became a function of station staff. By contrast, open coaches were common on branch lines, because there were often no platform barriers on branch line stations and so tickets had to be checked in the train itself.
From 1895, especially in Prussia and Saxony (but also to a lesser extent in Baden, Bavaria and Alsace-Lorraine), eight-wheeled compartment coaches were built. They were predominantly used in the semi-fast trains or Eilzüge introduced in 1907 and in the so-called fast passenger trains. Over 3,500 coaches were built in several batches starting in 1818 (1918?). The compartments in the coaches were sometimes linked to provide access to the toilets. In third class coaches the privies lacked flushing facilities until some time later.
Initially the window frames on compartment coaches - like the coach bodies themselves - were made of wood, which very quickly warped. After 1900 they were made of a brass alloy based on a patent by the Julius Pintsch AG firm. The upper part of the window frame on these coaches was rounded.
From 1910 the former paraffin lighting was replaced by more efficient gas lighting. After 1900, rising wood prices forced a switch to steel construction and then to lower value materials during the First World War.
Prussian state railways coaches were equipped with standard bogies with two and later three spring systems. Most coaches were 18.55 m long. Initially Westinghouse brakes were used, but after 1900 they were fitted with standard Knorr brakes. The hand brake was housed in a separate brakeman's cabin at one end of the coach. These were removed in 1930.
Of the 21,000 compartment coaches of all types that were built, 14,000 were handed to other countries after the First World War as reparations. Of these, 5,000 went to the re-emergent Poland.
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