04 May 2020
Time for a pint? The manufacturer's latest wagons depart China, but you'll have to wait until late-June 2020.
While the conveyance of Guinness and other beers dates back to the days of steam, it was the emergence of ISO intermodal standards in the early 1970s which allowed breweries to maximise the potential of rail transport. Córas Iompair Éireann’s new fleet of 42ft bogie flat wagons were particularly suitable, as their capacity enabled large quantities of kegged beer to be transported efficiently.
Although brands such as Harp and Heineken were also transported at various times, it is Guinness which became synonymous with this traffic, with CIÉ constructing an additional batch of bogie wagons in 1978 specifically to meet the demands of transportation. The goods yard at Dublin’s Heuston Station became the focal point for this operation, with kegs being brought the short distance from the St James’s Gate brewery by road and transferred to 42ft wagons for distribution to depots located across the CIÉ/Irish Rail and Northern Ireland Railways networks.
These wagons were often mixed with other traffic, such as containers, bulk and bagged cement, and oil, but demand frequently called for dedicated trainloads, too. Initially carried in transport cages with kegs stacked three-high, trains stopped at signals in certain areas became a target for thieves, who could sneak aboard and remove kegs with relative ease. The solution, introduced in the mid-1990s, was to utilise taller cages which were more difficult to access.
Keg trains were a common sight on the network for almost four decades. However, changes to the Irish railway environment in the mid-2000s resulted in the loss of several freight flows, with keg traffic being one of the high profile casualties, finally coming to an end in 2006.
The IRM model of these distinctive wagons utilises the CIE 42ft flat wagon, and follows on from the hugely successful container liners and fertiliser wagons, which sold out shortly after release. To supplement this demand, IRM has increased the production run of the beer keg wagons. The detailed wagons are being produced in twin-packs, with four different packs available. Packs feature different running numbers and a bundle deal for all eight wagons is available. For current pricing and availability, visit its website.