MEA MINERAL OPEN WAGONS
A selection of MEA box wagons in their varied liveries all of which can be seen at Peak Forest on a regular basis. Their main duties are on the aggregates to Ashburys and they have in the past been used on the sugarstone traffic from Tunstead to East Anglia. A new flow starting in early 2004 may see these wagons used to a new LaFarge terminal at Northenden.
Above : Former Mainline Freight blue liveried MEA 391148 is seen in a rake of 29 empties awaitng dispatch to LaFarge's quarry at Dowlow for reloading. Note the 'Hades' tag which some kind yoof has applied to the bodyside to liven up its appearance !
Above : Transrail branded grey MEA 391008 in the same rake as above basking in the warm October sunshine. Note the provision of the white footstep at the right hand end of the wagon, something that the Mainline version lacks.
Above : EWS liveried MEA 391626 at the tailend of a rake of empties stabled alongside the road at Peak Forest.
Above : MEA 391003 in Railfreight Coal Dark Grey / Black livery seen here at Peak Forest sidings. This is one of the original MEA wagons built for coal traffic though now used on stone / aggregate duties. The wagons were initially used on the newly acquired flow of stone from Dowlow to Ashburys for the M60 extension project and also for a short time on the Peak Forest to Manchester Airport flow until this was taken over by the RMC and Tiphook bogie wagons.
Above : MEA 391444 in English, Welsh and Scottish (EWS) Maroon and Gold livery. After EWS had entered the freight scene in 1995 they authorised the construction of more of the general purpose MEA box wagons for coal and aggregates. Again at Peak Forest sidings this time in the cripple rake awaiting attention by the mobile repair gang or a tow to Warrington Arpley if more serious. Note the loaded rake in the background. The main liveries seen on the aforementioned flows are EWS Maroon, Mainline Aircraft Blue with yellow top edge, Railfreight Dark Grey / Black with either Yellow or White top edge. Although MEAs were painted in the Loadhaul Black and Orange livery none have been seen in the area.
Above : Rather tatty MKA 393002 mixed in with the cripples in the sidings. This was of several odd wagons which found their way onto the Dowlow stone services. The underframe and suspension are from former TTA tanks with a new body. These were formerly POA opens which BR purchased. 35 became MKAs and the remaining 170 were made into ZKA 'Limpets' by cutting holes in the bodysides. Only a few MKAs were used on the services before being taken out of traffic and possibily scrapped. Thanks to Kevin Bruce for additional notes on the MKAs.
In March 2004, EWS ordered a new batch of 100 MEAs from Wabtec for stone duties in the Peak Forest area. The first 26 wagons were noted at PF on the 25th April when I took advantage of the nice sunny weather to pay a visit. All the new wagons are to design code ME003C and in pool 3006. Wagon bods will recall that a 100 MEAs were converted to MFA cut-down height spoil wagons not so long ago and now demand has increased it is easier to convert more HEAs into MEAs instead.
AL : MEA 391649. AR : MEA 391675. BL : Close-up of suspension unit. BR : Data panel on MEA 391698.
Although the wagons bodies are all new, the chassis have not been overhauled apart from the running gear, couplings and brake gear as can be seen in the photo Below Left where the old rusty chassis from the HEA can be seen. Also it is apparant that the inside of the box body is left unpainted and so is a mixture of bare (grey) metal, rust and maroon overspray. The top capping on the body is 'house' shaped i.e. of square section with an apex. The outer side and outer slope of the apex is painted in gold but the inner slope of the apex is painted maroon and the inner side is left untreated as it forms the inside wall of the box body.
100 wagons ordered are numbered between 391631 and 391730. Observed at Peak Forest were 26 wagons of which 24 could be positively identified ;
391631 / 1632 / 1635 / 1637 / 1639 / 1640 / 1641 / 1642 / 1646 / 1649 / 1651 / 1652 / 1654 / 1656 / 1657 / 1659 / 1660 / 1663 / 1665 / 1672 / 1675 / 1679 / 1693 / 1698. 391655 and 1690 would seem to be the missing two based on reports in the new Rail Express magazine May 04 Issue (Wagons Page pg 40).
More photos will be posted soon !