Pro­to­type his­tory

Model Rail (UK) - - Reviews - Con­ceived in the mid-1980s, orig­i­nally as Class 87/2, this fleet of mixed traf­fic AC elec­tric lo­co­mo­tives was as­sem­bled at Crewe Works from 1986-1990. As the de­sign proved to be so dis­tinct from the Class 87s, the des­ig­na­tion of Class 90 was even­tu­ally ad


The fa­cil­ity to op­er­ate the pantograph via DCC cer­tainly adds an ex­tra el­e­ment of ‘playa­bil­ity’ to an al­ready su­perb model. Un­der­stand­ably, non-dig­i­tal users may feel like they’re be­ing forced to pay for a fea­ture that they’re un­able to en­joy. How­ever, in the mod­ern world of man­u­fac­tur­ing, al­ter­ing pro­duc­tion to omit cer­tain fea­tures from dif­fer­ent batches does not al­ways of­fer much in the way of cost sav­ings. Besides, ‘fu­ture-proof­ing’ a model does at least al­low users to up­grade their con­trol sys­tems at a later date.

You might ex­pect to pay the thick end of £250 for a model like this. But an RRP of just un­der £180 is good value in to­day’s mar­ket for a model of this spec­i­fi­ca­tion.

This is a beau­ti­ful model of an pro­to­type, boast­ing im­pres­sive de­tail and su­perb fin­ish and per­for­mance. The Class 90 was one of British Rail’s last great de­signs which has given over 30 years of ster­ling ser­vice.

Now that vi­able cate­nary sys­tems are avail­able, will this model be the cat­a­lyst for a boom in modelling AC trac­tion? It’s cer­tainly the jewel in an al­ready im­pres­sive crown,when you con­sider it along­side Bachmann’s Class 85, Hel­jan’s ‘86’ and Hornby’s ‘87’. Fac­tor in im­pres­sive-look­ing mod­els on the way from Accurascal­e and Cavalex and there’s never been a bet­ter time to delve into the world of over­head electrics. The ‘90’ has cer­tainly added to my de­sire to model the late 1980s WCML scene of my youth.

Now, how about an ‘81’ or an ‘83’ next?! (GD)


Left: Freight­liner’s 90047, still in faded Rail­freight grey, ar­rives at Wem­b­ley de­pot on April 9 2017. The re­vised po­si­tion of the TDM con­nec­tion is vis­i­ble. 90047 also lacks the gang­way rub­bing plate and has later-pat­tern buf­fers.


Above: Class 90s are still in front line pas­sen­ger ser­vice af­ter 31 years. Greater Anglia em­ploys the great­est num­ber – 15 – whereas DB hires three to LNER to work East Coast Main Line ser­vices. GA’S 90010 speeds through Shen­field with a Nor­wich-lon­don ser­vice on Au­gust 1 2018.


Above: 90028 car­ries im­mac­u­late ‘Main­line’ liv­ery in April 1989. It sports orig­i­nal buf­fers and the TDM con­nec­tions clip into the re­cess un­der the horn grille.

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