The brake van (also known as the guard's van) is an important part of every goods train.
A brake van is added to the back of a goods train and a guard rides in it. Each brake van is equipped with a strong brake to assist with slowing and stopping the train. From here, the guard can keep an eye on the train in case of problems, such as hot axle boxes, or trucks becoming uncoupled while running.
Several different types of standard gauge brake vans have been seen on the North Western Railway: BR Standard 20 Ton vans, NER 20 Ton vans, Southern Railway 25 Ton "Pillbox" vans, LMS 20 Ton vans, GWR "Toads" and narrow gauge Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway vans scaled up to standard gauge (albeit still carrying narrow gauge "chopper"-type couplings and lacking buffers)
On Crystal Island, only GWR "Toads" are shown to be used.
Each brake van has a specific livery:
- The BR brake vans are painted grey, brown, blue and orange.
- The NE brake vans are painted grey.
- The SR brake vans are painted grey, cream and dark green.
- The LMS brake vans are painted orange.
- The W&LL brake vans are painted grey.
- To date, only nine brake vans have been named: Beatrice, Cora, Toad, Connie, Greg, Sadie, Lars, Onyx, and Bradford. They, along with the Spiteful Brake Van are so far the only known brake vans to have faces. A brake van was briefly seen with a face in the Engine Friends episode, Duck the Great Western Engine, as well as the Amazing Adventures episode, Duck and the Barber.
- In the first season episode, Rosie, Jacob, Sierra, and the Troublesome Trucks, Oliver jokes about how common forgetting a brakevan is, referring to the fact that most trains seen in episodes between the eighth and fifteenth seasons of the television series lacked them.
- Jacob has forgotten a brakevan in two different first season episodes: Rosie, Jacob, Sierra, and the Troublesome Trucks and Jacob and Rylie's Blue Mountain Adventure.