SJ Åttiotalsvagnar (1980s Coaches)

The Stockholm Model Railway Club has produced some excellent books about SJ passenger coaches from the years 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s; and earlier. The 1980s coaches are still in active service, and any book published now would be out of date before it had even reached the shelves in the shops. Therefore, we provide a guide to these coaches, and in time will cover the earlier models also – in English. (Some of the 50s, 60s, and 70s coaches are also still in service, but further redesign of them is either unlikely or minimal.)

In this review, reference will be made to SSRT. Under the EU Open Access Regulations, a business arrangement was made where SJ assigned coaches to The Swedish Enterprise Agency, whose designation of ownership was SSRT (which can be interpreted as an abbreviation for Swedish State Railways Trains). Following the discontinuation of the Swedish Enterprise Agency in 2012, the coaches are now managed by Trafikverket. Some of these coaches are leased back to SJ, so, several liveries (or ‘brandings’) will be apparent.

The 1980s coaches have been heavily modified over the years, more so than previous designs of railway coach. We have decided to present the coaches in three main groups; the original new models, later new models, and rebuilds. In this last category, we pay attention to the abandoned concepts of InterRegio and IC-11. Not every version can be accommodated in this review; it really is a struggle to keep up with the changes, but this review does give a good overall picture. Also, of course, our supply of photos is thin on the ground, but we hope to add to the images in due course. We will conclude the review with a look at the poor selection of models (H0-scale) representing them; though it will be seen that a new brand is bringing more and more 1980s coaches to the modellers’ market.

From New…

The A7 and B7 coaches were ordered by SJ in the late 1970s, from Kalmar Verkstad to a completely new design. These 1980s coaches differed from earlier types in that they were both higher and longer. The coaches got built-in steps, which made the doors stick down a bit compared to the rest of the body sides. The décor was designed in a lounge style and they included, among other things, remote-operated doors and speaker systems. From the beginning, it was intended that the coaches would only have entrances and a toilet at one end in order to be able to get more room for seating. SJ’s then-director-general Lars Peterson considered that it was most important to be able to transport as many travellers as possible, as cheaply as possible. The coaches were ordered in this design, but shortly thereafter Peterson resigned, and the drawings were changed so that the coaches were given entrances and toilets at both ends. These coaches became the backbone of SJ’s InterCity trains.

A7 First Class

Up to 1987, 44 A7 coaches were delivered. The last 12 were delivered in 1987-1988 as A8. The A8 was almost the same as the A7, except that they had a telephone booth and room for a serving trolley. The A8 coaches were intended to be used in the “City Express” business travel trains, but as these were soon replaced by the X2000, their extra equipment became superfluous and they were rebuilt to the A7. One A7 was allocated to SSRT to be leased out to contracted traffic. It has received SSRT’s colour scheme and is leased by SJ for traffic to upper Norrland / Malmbanan. Apart from 18 A7 coaches which were converted to B7A, the remaining A7 were in 2009/2010 renovated in a similar way to other 1980s coaches in SJ’s modernisation program, with new lighting, electrical outlets, etc. However, the original chairs were retained albeit refurbished.

B7 Second Class

The first B7 coach was delivered in 1979 and until 1990 Kalmar Verkstad built a total of 171 of them. The interior is again, in the lounge style with a larger and a smaller salon (the smaller one originally intended for smokers). The larger salon is a full 14 meters long (the entire coach is 26.4 meters) and the total number of seats is 78. When the coaches were delivered, they had a plush chair cover. Different series of coaches were given different colours on the fabric, including dark green and brown. In the early 2000s, most of the B7 coaches were refreshed with new blue chair upholstery and new headrests.

S1 and other Specials

S1 5248 is an extra 1980s coach! The coach was delivered in connection with SJ’s 125th anniversary and it is said to be a gift from the manufacturer Kalmar Verkstad to SJ. It was named Ericson’s Coach after SJ’s first director-general, and has the standard A7/B7 body. The coach was a conference coach for many years. Anyone could rent the coach if needed, and of course companies rented it for conferences, and other purposes such as an exhibition coach or even as a disco coach in special trains! In 1990, two additional conference coaches were added, S1 5577 and 5578. These were given the names Pegelow’s coach and Granholm’s coach. These had more modern decor than the original one, but in the end SJ discontinued the conference coaches. 5248 was sold to TÅGAB, and was converted to a normal B7 and is in service today. There were additionally, ‘office coaches’ utilising the A7/B7 body.

B4 / BF4 Second Class

In 1984 SJ ordered more new coaches from Kalmar Verkstad. The B7 coaches had rolled for a couple of years and their interior design had proven less suitable for families. The new coach therefore got seating groups with seats opposite each other. In addition, space for ‘express goods’ was added. They were first B4, but this was later changed to the more accurate BF4 where ‘F’ stands for cargo space. During the 1980s, mobile telephony developed rapidly and the coaches were equipped with telephones that travellers could use. It was in a space adjacent to the train crew’s service cabin, which was decorated as a telephone booth. Anyone who wanted to call had to buy a special calling card in the train’s bistro. Seven coaches were awarded to SSRT, which were first rented out to Tågkompaniet, then Veolia and now SJ. They are used in traffic to upper Norrland / Malmbanan. They were renovated in 2007-2008 and were given a new interior. They were also repainted in SSRT’s grey/red colour scheme.

BC4 Couchette

The series of 1980s coaches also included new couchette coaches. They became BC4 and had a traditional interior with six-bed cabins. During the daytime, the middle beds can be folded away so that there are six seats instead. The coach has almost the same body as A7/B7, but has doors at only one end. At the other end there are toilets and washrooms. Twenty coaches were awarded to SSRT, which have previously been leased to Tågkompaniet and Veolia but are now leased to SJ for traffic to upper Norrland. They were renovated in 2005 and 2006 and repainted in the grey/red colour scheme.

AFM7 First Class

In order to avoid run-round in the dense traffic on the Stockholm-Uppsala service, in 1988, three driver-coaches were built, designed as 1980s coaches with Rc-style cab. The coaches received first class interiors similar to the A7, but also luggage space and a service compartment closest to the cab. They were put into trains with passenger coaches and Rc6 locomotives. From the beginning they were UA7R but ‘U’ stands for ‘control car’ for a ‘motor car’ and not locomotive, so it was changed to AF7X, and later AFM7. The coaches were later used in other parts of Mälardalen in the late 1990s, and in 2004 they were moved to Skåne for use on the Helsingborg-Hässleholm and Hässleholm-Kristianstad lines. They were used there until June 2007, when they were moved back to Mälardalen. Since the end of 2016, the AFM7 is no longer used as driver coach but they are in traffic as regular passenger coaches, due to poor reliability and the low number of them.

Later Additions…

Gradually, more coaches were ordered to suit the new design. From the early 1990s, the coaches were manufactured by Kockums in Malmö because Kalmar Verkstad – which had built earlier coaches in the 1980s – had ceased production of passenger coaches. One observation with the Kockums coaches is the bodysides where the ribbing effect is replaced by a smooth panel at window height.

B2 Second Class

In need of more coaches, and noting the success of the BF4, SJ ordered a revised version of the B7/BF4, and 45 were delivered as B2, with an interior more akin to the BF4 than the B7. All seats were arranged in groups around tables, either with 3+1 seating or 2+2. Separating walls (which did not reach all the way up to the ceiling) between the seating groups made the interior more cosy than the open lounge environment in B7. The B2 coaches had previously been rented out to Tågkompaniet and Veolia and are now leased to SJ for traffic to upper Norrland. In 2007 and 2008 they were modernised and the interior was rebuilt. The seating groups were removed and the coaches were given a traditional salon decor instead. They were also repainted in SSRT’s colour scheme in grey and red.

R4 Restaurant etc

15 restaurant coaches, R4, were included, which replaced older coaches such as the R3. The coaches were furnished with kitchens in the middle and areas with seating either side. Originally, one section was designed for café guests and one for restaurant guests. The interior of the café part was partly rebuilt in the 1990s. They were originally painted in brown, but in the early 1990s they received a colour scheme in red and black, in addition to one coach painted completely in red.

WL4 / WL6 Sleepers

A high standard of cabin with its own shower and toilet had proven to be popular in WL5 (1980s rebuild of 1950s coaches) and SJ therefore decided in the late 1980s to acquire more sleeping coaches with this comfort. This time they ordered brand new coaches instead of rebuilding old ones. A total of 27 WL4 with doors only at one end, were delivered 1990-1992. Unlike the WL5, all the cabins have their own toilet and shower. Each compartment has two beds but can also be set up to sleep just one person. The upper bed folds up during the daytime and the lower can then be used as a sofa. Five coaches were allocated to SSRT, which have been rented out to Tågkompaniet and Veolia and are now used by SJ in traffic to upper Norrland. SSRT’s coaches were renovated in 2005 and 2006 and repainted in the grey/red colour scheme.

To replace other older sleeping coaches, SJ ordered 23 new sleeping coaches in the early 1990s. These coaches were given a traditional interior with three beds in each compartment, but also a shower in the carriage ends as showers in sleeping coaches had become standard in the two previous types WL4 and WL5. The WL6 also has doors only at one end. The middle bed can be folded away during the day so that the lower bed can be used as a sofa. 20 of the WL6 coaches were allocated to SSRT, and have previously been leased to Tågkompaniet and Veolia and are now leased to SJ for traffic to upper Norrland. Their interiors were modernised in 2007 and 2008 and they were repainted in SSRT’s grey/red colour scheme. SJ’s remaining three are now black.

Rebuilds…

InterRegio

In the mid-1990s, SJ began rebuilding eighty coaches under the concept of InterRegio; passenger traffic on medium-long distances. InterRegio would complement the more long-distance InterCity traffic. SJ abandoned the InterRegio concept after a couple of years and the coaches were put into all kinds of traffic.
19 A7 and B7 coaches were rebuilt into coaches with both first and second class, AB9. They got new interiors with new chairs (dark blue in first class, red in second class). In the middle, a glassed-in compartment, originally intended for smokers, was inserted. Outside, they received a blue colour scheme with a wide red border along the sides.

38 A7 and B7 were rebuilt to B9. The carriages were given the new decor and colour scheme with a wide red border along the carriage sides. Four were owned by SSRT, which have previously been leased to Connex and Tågkompaniet and are now rented by SJ. They were renovated and repainted in 2007-2008. Gradually, the interior was worn out in SJ’s B9 coaches and it was decided to refurbish them, along with many others of the 1980s. In order to reduce the number of coach types, it was decided to rebuild them to B7. The rebuild was completed in 2009 and 2010.
31 A7/B7 coaches were rebuilt to BFS9. They were given a new interior with cargo space and kiosk. When the coaches were rebuilt, in addition to a lounge space with seating, they also received two compartments between the kiosk and the cargo space. The compartments were originally intended for smokers. However, the coupé closest to the kiosk was later converted into a service coupé for staff. The remaining compartment is available in two variants, the most common having five seats. The second variant (BFS9C) has only four seats (the compartment was used for a time as a place for vending machines). Like other InterRegio coaches (AB9 and B9), BFS9 was given air conditioning, but since the air cannot be cooled, there is no AC system in the proper sense. Four BFS9 were transferred in 2001 to SSRT, and were previously rented out to Tågkompaniet (where they received a red colour scheme) and are now rented by SJ. They are used in traffic to upper Norrland / Malmbanan. They were refurbished 2007-2008; given a refreshed interior and repainted in SSRT’s colour scheme in grey and red.

In order to get more passenger coaches that are better adapted to regional traffic, SJ ordered the conversion of 35 B2 coaches to B10 in 2000 and the first was completed in early 2001. (In addition, a special coach (S4 5482) was rebuilt to B10.) The redevelopment meant, among other things, new interiors with more seating, 81 places plus four seats with loose chairs. They also have a round window at one end that looks distinctively different from other 1980s coaches (for reasons of strength, a normal sized window could not be inserted). They are mainly used in traffic in Mälardalen.

IC-11

The X2000, which handle a large part of SJ’s long-distance traffic, are heavily used and when trains need to be taken out of traffic this means disruptions. To relieve the express trains, SJ decided in 2001 to rebuild passenger coaches and Rc locomotives for relief trains for X2. A total of 27 1980s coaches were rebuilt to give four trains. The coaches became A11, B11 and RB11. They were given a new colour scheme in dark blue, and the interior with the same comfort as the X2. The A11 that was rebuilt from the A7 was adapted so that the seat numbering matched the X2 intermediaries UA2. A total of 9 A7 coaches were rebuilt to A11, 13 B7 coaches were converted to B11, and 5 R4 were converted to RB11. The train has (unofficially) gone under the names X2000R, Blue-X and IC11, and are allowed to go at 160 km/h, thus slower than X2. Plans were underway to rebuild them at a speed of 180 km/h, but it proved to be too expensive. The idea of a spare train was abandoned after a few years and the coaches are now used in regular traffic, for example on the Stockholm-Mora route. Most retain the rather appealing dark blue livery.

Other Rebuilds

In the early 1990s SJ rebuilt 38 B7 coaches with new interiors especially adapted for families with children with grouped seating, play corner and toilet with changing table. In addition, the coaches received a wheelchair lift and a disabled toilet. They were first B7B but this changed after a short time to B8. In daily speech, the coaches were called the ‘family coaches’. At the end of the 1990s the number of trains with family coaches decreased and many of the coaches were converted to BFS9. In 2009 and 2010, SJ converted the remaining B8 coaches back to B7 (but labelled as B7B, see below).

As a result of the increased use of the X2, the number of loco-trains with restaurant coaches decreased during the 1990s and six were converted into cinema and bistro coaches S12. In 1991 SJ had rebuilt two 1960s coaches as cinema and bistro coaches, S11. It proved successful with cinema on trains and the six R4 coaches were converted accordingly. Unlike the S11, these coaches got a screen alongside the movie theatre so that they can be connected anywhere in the train (not just at the end). This, combined with a larger bistro area, resulted in fewer cinema seats, 18 against 32 in S11. Four of the coaches were leased to the Tågkompaniet 2000-2003 for use in the company’s traffic to upper Norrland. Initially SJ used them mainly in night train traffic, but eventually they were often used as regular bistro coaches with the cinema closed. In 2011, the cinema business ceased completely and the coaches are now used solely as bistro coaches. One reason for this is that laptops and media players have reduced the demand for movie screenings. In the long term, the coaches will probably be rebuilt so that the cinema area can be used for other purposes.

Starting in 2009, SJ began modernising the 1980s coaches. In connection with this, all B8 and B9 have been rebuilt back to B7, as well as 18 from first class A7 coaches. Modernised coaches got new chairs with grey fabric, new lighting and electrical outlets. They were also repainted in SJ’s black colour if not already received. The modernised coaches can be recognised by white lines around the doors. The interior differs slightly between the different modernised coaches depending on the type of coach they were rebuilt from. They therefore have a descriptive subtitle. Coaches that have been rebuilt from the A7 are B7A, from B8 to B7B and from B9 to B7C. Also, some B7 are modernised and are B7F – these differ from B7A/B/C in that the old chairs are retained. The 56 B7 coaches that have been refreshed relatively recently remain so far without being modernised. Tågab (Tågåkeriet i Bergslagen AB) in 2014 bought the three coaches, S1 5248, B7B 5286 and B7C 5319 from SJ. The two B7 coaches had been damaged in an accident in 2010 and were therefore purchased as spare parts stock. With furnishings from these, Tågab rebuilt the S1 coach (a former conference coach) to B7. The coach was put into traffic in August 2015. It is in a distinctive black livery with bold red stripe along the bodyside. (Other coaches run by Tågab are in silver with the bold red stripe.)

Another of the vehicle types was AB9, which in 2009 and 2010 was rebuilt into AB7. The former smoker compartment in the middle of the coach was removed and replaced by standard seats. The chairs were also replaced. As before, the first class space occupies about half the coach. The interior is in the usual open salon style and consists of two smaller salons in the first class and a larger salon in the second class. On the outside, the coaches have received SJ’s black colour scheme.

The other coach renovated from 2008/9 was the BF4, converted to BF7. The interior with seating in four groups was retained but the chairs were redecorated. The space for express goods was also retained, although this is no longer used. The BF7 coaches are intended to some extent to replace the B8 coaches that were converted to B7. The first rebuilt BF7 was put into service in early 2010.

In 2012, SJ decided to convert 20 of its BFS9 coaches into bistro coaches with a seating area and playroom for children. The order for the rebuild went to Motala Train. On the outside, the converted coaches got SJ’s black colour scheme but the different departments were also marked with the words BISTRO and LEK. The bistro has no seating and can therefore be considered as a kiosk. RB7 is partly a replacement for the former B8 coaches, which also had a play area. The first coach was completed in July 2013. However, the rebuilding project was expensive and delayed so much that Motala Train suffered financial problems and had to undergo a corporate restructuring in 2014. Because of this, only six coaches were rebuilt, despite the order comprising twenty.

In 2016, SJ decided to rebuild the interior in 8 B7 coaches (later expanded to a total of 12 coaches) and provide them with service compartments for the train staff. The rebuild was done during 2017 at Swedtrac in Tillberga. The coaches replaced the increasingly worn BFS9 coaches in traffic where the kiosk is not needed or used. After the rebuilding, they became BF8. However, they have no cargo space (which is what the ‘F’ usually stands for).

The Models

Models of the 1980s coaches have been limited in number, and for many years have been produced by Roco, only. Roco chose one body design, that of the original A7/B7 and then produced as many variants of it as possible, the only notable difference being the interior mould, with 2+1 seating in the A7 and 2+2 in the B7; but in both cases the layout is not correct. This model also lent itself to the conference coach (S1), but a standard interior was used – and the coach had tinted windows to hide this. Subtle revisions have been made to the model over the years, different bogies, revised roof attachments, the addition of the circular window in some variants, and so on, but the model remains, by Roco’s standards, very basic, and it is not possible to create a complete authentic train with their models.

A Swedish manufacturer (Rimbo Grande,) has produced brass bodysides for the various other 1980s coaches if the modeller feels up to the challenge of cutting up a Roco model. Obviously, the model would then need painting and graphics (and special care taken to hide the join), and the modeller would need to ‘arrange’ their own interior details. A plastic mould has even been produced by another Swedish manufacturer (Modellproduktion,) for the cab-end of the AFM7.

In the late 2010’s a new Swedish enterprise was started, called HNoll (which, pronounced “Ho-Noll”, is the Swedish way of saying H0 – the scale of the models), whose initial concern (diverging away from their One:87 business of very expensive metal models) is the 1980s coaches. From the first ones to arrive in 2019 we can see that the detail is far superior to the Roco model, but the two brands do not look out of place side by side. HNoll coaches are heavier but not quite as free rolling as the Roco ones. HNoll has taken care to produce each model independently, so that no inauthentic ‘carry-overs’ exist; body sides, rooves, underframes, interiors, everything! Two gaping omissions exist in Swedish H0 scale models, sleeping cars and restaurant cars, so naturally, this is where HNoll decided to start, earning the respect of modellers and ensuring satisfactory sales to be able to create the next models…!

As already mentioned, the first 1980s A7/B7 coaches were delivered in several series, and variations exist; more than just décor. The first series was delivered to SJ 1979-1984 with block brakes which were already out of date. They were not allowed to run faster than 130km/h, but this changed around 1986 when they were modified and then allowed to run at 160km/h. The Roco model is based on this series, regardless of number carried. Different bogies have been produced enabling 130km/h version or 160km/h version to be acquired.

The second series was delivered with ‘Soft’ ASEA bogies with disc brakes. Compared to the first series, there are some changes particularly on the undercarriage and the roof. The forthcoming HNoll A7/B7 models will be based on this series, so they will therefore be able to produce A7, A8, A11, B7 and B11 at the same time whilst ensuring absolute authenticity; as well as special coaches, S4R 5482 ABB/ASEA Conference coach and S4R 5483 Office coach, for example. The third and last series were delivered with disc braked MD bogies. HNoll has now hinted that they will produce the first series also, later!

At the time of producing this review (late 2019), the first HNoll models (sleepers and couchettes) have arrived in the shops, but we will endeavour to update this review periodically. (Whilst HNoll has produced quite an impressive list of intended models, our review here only shews priced items which have a proposed delivery date.)

Items in Bold are r-t-r and respectably correct; items in italics are sub-series with notable distinctions!

TypeModellerComment
A7Roco
A8noneCan rebrand from Roco A7
A11Rocowith compromises
AB7noneCan rebrand from compromised Roco AB9
AB9Rocowith compromises
AFM7none
B2none
B7Roco
B7AnoneCan rebrand from Roco A7
B7Bnone
B7CnoneCan rebrand from Roco B9 with compromises
B7FnoneCan rebrand from Roco B7
B8noneCan rebrand from Roco B7 with scratch-built interior changes
B9Rocowith compromises
B10none
B11Rocowith compromises
BC4HNoll
BF4nonepending production from HNoll
BF7nonepending production from HNoll
BF8noneCan rebrand from Roco B7 with compromises
BFS9none
R4HNoll
RB7none
RB11HNoll
S1Rocowith compromises
S4noneCan rebrand from Roco S1 with compromises
S12HNoll
WL4HNoll
WL6HNoll

Items in Bold are r-t-r and respectably correct; items in italics are sub-series with notable distinctions!

Information from hnoll.se, järnväg.net, modellproduktion.com.