It is often said when waiting for a bus there is usually a long wait and then several arrive together. This is true of the good quality Southern Region electric multiple units from both of the large players from the exceptional Bachmann 4CEP and 2 EPB, the Hornby 4VEP and the much waited and longed-for Brighton Belle.
To the best of my knowledge Brighton Belle has been produced on two previous occasions as an RTR model. Firstly the highly collectable if not totally accurate, offering from Wren and more recently the Golden Age equivalent has been doing the rounds. A beautifully finished model of metal construction but with a price tag of about £2000 for the 5 coach train one would have to be a serious fan of this iconic train.
Third and perhaps the best presentation of this train for both quality and value comes from the home of British model trains, Hornby. The model is produced in original Pullman livery or corporate blue/grey. The model can be bought with a Chip fitted and for slightly less with a space ready to receive a chip post purchase. The coaches are all fitted with lighting and look fantastic in reduced lighting conditions. This is facilitated via an electrical connection that runs through the entire train much as with the 4 VEP. A system of coloured LEDs gives the direction of travel and a set of transfers for the destination marker are supplied. The driving coach is heavy enough not to require traction tyres and propels the unit both quietly and smoothly.
The train is made up of five coaches. The two driving vehicles come in a train pack whilst the intermediate coaches, accurate in every detail are supplied in standard coach boxes. This is most certainly not a set of generic Pullman coaches.
A word to the wise!
Newcomers to this train should be aware these coaches are of a dedicated design so are not compatible with tension lock couplings.
Very little other than praise for this wonderful offering. Although limited to just one route of operation (though there were Sunday Pullmans to Eastbourne and other 'Specials' - webmaster) it was most certainly part of daily life on the Central division for about 40 years and makes a surely welcome addition to modellers of that geographic area. Perhaps the addition of a an NEM socket at each end would have been a bonus, permitting the modeller to run a double unit.
The electrical connections can be fiddly as they must be assembled exactly as stated in the instructions. Failure to do this will result in the incorrectly connected vehicle not lighting up. It would not, however prevent the train from moving. It can be slightly confusing as the sides of each coach are not always identical.
It goes without saying the RRP is of a somewhat eye watering nature but given the normal approach to looking for reasonable value it has to be said in my view at least, does not compare unfavourably with similar models from the maker. Given we are very much looking at price tag around £35 plus for more detailed coaches and that one should regard the driving motor coach as a loco, about £250 appears not to be unreasonable in today's climate.
As for my reason for purchasing - I have had a long love affair with the Southern and although I do not have a 3rd rail layout the absolute decadence and glamour of the train was just too much to resist. So join me for afternoon tea, that tinkle of silverware and daintily cut cucumber sandwiches, not forgetting your Pullman supplement!
Text and photographs © Shaun Leonard
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This page was created 28 July 2012