FEA-E 641009 at Kings Sutton - Photo by Gareth Bayer
While Freightliner ordered 267 FEA-B twin-sets (534 individual wagons), its fleet of single FEA-E flats totalled just 66. An empty 641009 is seen at Kings Sutton on 3rd October 2014 sandwiched between two loaded FSA. As is common for container flats, the Freightliner green livery is barely discernible under the all-over coat of dirt while the transverse marks across the wagon’s spine are typical weathering for the design.
FEA-E 641054 at Oxford - Photo by Gareth Bayer
The single flats have been regulars in maritime container traffic throughout their life as illustrated by 641054 on the outskirts of Oxford on 18th August 2010. In addition, they have seen employment on containerised waste traffic or ‘binliners’ over the years, such as the now ceased flows from Bristol/Bath, Dagenham and Cricklewood to Calvert along with the Manchester workings at times. A feature of the FEAs is that the last digits of the wagon number are repeated by the headstocks as it can be difficult to see the main number panel when loaded.
FEA-E 641023 at Maindee - Photo by Martyn Read
One of the reasons for Freightliner acquiring the single FEA-Es was to use them on infrastructure services with suitable modules added to the deck. To this end, several of the wagons each received two 30ft flat modules soon after delivery to allow the carriage of track panels. On 31st October 2006, 641023 is pictured in such a role at Maindee West Junction, Newport, carrying three new 60ft track sections. Also recorded with these fittings were at least 641015/ 021/ 022/ 024-028/ 030/ 031/ 033/ 034/ 039/ 040/ 042/ 043 and 059 but their use was rather short-lived after Network Rail recast its infrastructure renewal contracts, meaning these FEAs were transferred to container and ‘binliner’ traffic.
FEA-E 641059 at Sandiacre - Photo by Daryl Harris-Saxton
Equally short-lived was the use of FEA-Es as ballast carriers, with at least 641029/ 032/ 034/ 037/ 041/ 044/ 047/ 051/ 053/ 057/ 058/ 066 each receiving two 30ft green-painted box bodies in the summer of 2005. Within three years, the boxes were noted stacked to one side at Crewe Basford Hall but some were reunited with FEAs at the end of 2012 for several years to carry spent ballast. In this latter instance, they were mainly fitted to FEA-B twin-sets but singleton 641059 was also involved for a time, this being pictured at Sandiacre ballast sidings, Toton, on 26th December that year. Also worthy of note is that 641016 was placed on hire to Balfour Beatty from 2010 until 2015 or so for use as an intermediate general materials carrier in Plasser & Theurer GP-TRAMM DR98220. For this role, it was given three 20ft low-sided box bodies finished in Balfour Beatty blue, the wagon itself remaining in Freightliner green under the grime. By 2018, this particular FEA-E was recorded back in container traffic.