Strict Standards: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /storage/content/39/1007239/ on line 30 ESP-01: ZCA Sea Urchins

The railways have always been good at making use of things they have lying around to create something new and useful, now we're done the same with our VDA van chassis.

Converted during the early 1990's the Sea Urchins were designed as a replacement for older vacuum braked and unfitted engineers wagons used for carrying ballast or spoil with reinforcing ribs to help them withstand the battering given to them by mechanical excavators when loading or unloading.

Stock Pack Contents

ZCA Sea Urchins

This expansion for Train Simulator contains four variations of the wagons. These are, the ZCAs converted from lot 3855 VDA vans (short hand brake lever) and those converted from lot 3908 wagons (long hand brake lever). Each of these chassis has been fitted with the two obvious body variants of flush and raised end ribs and are all supplied in lightly weathered Civil Engineers grey and yellow 'Dutch' livery. Both loaded and empty models with matching physics are supplied along with four different ballast and aggregate loads.

To complete your engineering trains a rear version of all the types listed above is included, fitted with possibly the first model of a British Rail Mark 1 battery, flashing tail lamp for Train Simulator, with random flash interval mimicking different levels of charge and to ensure all your tail lamps don't flash together!


To allow you to give your new rolling stock a quick spin (though not necessarily see it) as soon as you've downloaded your purchase we've included a scenario. Take a Class 37 hauled late evening working of empty ZCA Sea Urchins from Acton Yard to Hinksey Yard for loading ready for the following weekends engineering work.

Temporary Speed Restriction Signs

As a little nod towards greater authenticity in scenarios we've created and used a set of battery powered, illuminated speed restriction signs including a functioning portable AWS magnet and all the signs needed to create a 40mph temporary speed restriction.


A predominate story for the engineers department of British Rail during the second half of the 1980s and into the 1990s was the replacement of firstly the unfitted, and then the vacuum braked wagons used for the majority of their trains with higher speed air braked wagons of greater capacity. The engineers became quite adept at converting what they had or what they could acquire in order to modernise their fleet. The ZCA Sea Urchins converted from redundant VDA vans are one part of that story.

The 1980s saw a steady decline in the amount of general merchandise traffic carried by the railways and this ceased completely with the end of Speedlink in 1992. As a consequence a large number of vans and other wagons were surplus to requirements and disposal or alternative uses started to present themselves along with sales to the MoD for internal use.

In late 1992 a start was made in converting some 400 VDA vans (other types of air braked wagon were also converted at different times) into open ballast wagons with a reinforced box type body and an angled top. Some 300 of the wagons went to Network SouthEast and the balance to the West Coast Mainline. The conversion work was split between four contractors: ABB Transportation, Marcroft Engineering, Prorail Bombadier and RFS Doncaster and naturally there was some variation in the conversions.

The wagons used came mainly from lots 3855 and 3908 which can easily be identified by the length of their handbrake levers. The bodies themselves also show some variation with the end bracing either being flush to the top of the body (like the sides) or protruding out beyond the top of the body, there is also variation in the location of the lamp iron.

f t g

Mailing List

If you would like updates about new products, releases and updates please add your email address to our mailing list by clicking the link below.

Subscribe to our mailing list