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Third-Class Passenger Carriage

In 1994, after many years at the Jelgava Railway Maintenance Station, carriage No. 01776 arrived at the Latvian Railway History Museum. It is one of the last remaining 1925-made passenger carriages built in Riga by AS Fenikss by the order of the Central Board of Latvian Railways.

Carriages built after World War II during the 1920s and 1930s, were used in Latvia until the introduction of electric and diesel trains. They were operated on nearly all Latvian railway lines. From the 1960s onwards, carriages were used for economic needs and to provide railwaymen with temporary housing. As the carriages were turned into apartments, the chairs and other interior elements were removed, and heating, ventilation and electricity equipment was replaced.

The carriage stood in the museum’s hall until 2010, when enough knowledge was accumulated to begin its restoration. Seeing that the only remaining original parts were its metal frame and several wooden details, the goal to return the carriage to its original state was rather ambitious. The work began in late 2010 and was finished in March 2012. The frame and interior were restored by SIA Kalber, the metal parts were restored by SIA Skava M, and the sheathing, by SIA Roofmen. The work was supervised by restorer Līga Līce. The background information for the restoration was obtained from the technical description, photographs and the historical traces revealed in the dismantling process of the carriage. All interior elements were built from scratch in accordance with the available information.

The museum is proud of the carriage not only because it is the last remaining passenger carriage originally built by AS Fenikss, but also because its design is representative of the innovative ideas of the time. The carriage had an original design with narrow, pointed ends. Its construction consists of an iron underframe and iron framework mounted on two double axle Pullman bogies. Both the interior and exterior have pine wood panelling, and the outer walls are tinplated. The carriage had both central heating and electric lighting. It is worth noting that back then passenger carriages with wooden frames were still being built and used in Eastern Europe, and electric lighting was just beginning to make its way to passengers. Carriages were equipped with Westinghouse automatic braking systems and hand brakes. The people who experienced a ride in this carriage, particularly stressed its smooth gait and light and cosy interior.

Third-class carriages usually had 90 seats and vestibules at both ends. There was a lavatory at one end of the carriage, and furnace at the other. A partition roughly down the middle of the carriage divided it into smoking and nonsmoking sections. The hard wooden seats were inlaid with linoleum. The corridor divided the seats to a ratio of 4:1. Fixed above the seats was luggage rack netting. There were clothes hooks on both sides of the windows and ashtrays beneath them. Cast iron spittoons with enamel lids were placed on the floor by each window. Windows had dark blue curtains. There were four painted candle lanterns in the carriage and 18 electric bulbs in two rows running lengthwise. Nine fans were built into the ceiling.

Guntars Graiksts’s short film Fenikss K-3401, produced by VFS Films, tells of the fate of the restored carriage.

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