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March 2001 - Page 44


Bachmann's Acela Express

Bachmanns new Acela Express captures the elegance of the prototype. In train set form it comes with a First Class, Business Class and Cafe car. These cars, along with an End-Business Class car are available separately, so it is possible for a modeler to model a complete 8-unit trainset. Only one power unit is actually powered.

by Randy Lee
Photos by Chris Lane


o parody a car commercial of a few years isnt your fathers train set. Bachmanns recently released Amtrak Acela train set combines a beautiful model of one of the most modern trains in service in America today with the heretofore unavailable model technology that has long typified high-quality European passenger train models. If you are like me, you probably dont closely follow European model train manufacturers, but you most likely have had the opportunity to appreciate some of the exquisite models of high-speed European passenger trains that have been on the market for many years. As a lover of passenger trains, I have o ften coveted many of the features that have become commonplace on those European models, such as, reversing head/tail lights, couplings that permit close coupling but extend to navigate tight curves, flushmounted windows, detailed interiors and adequately weighted name just a few. I often wondered aloud why that type o f quality couldnt be offered in models

of American prototypes. Well, Bachmann must have heard my grumblings, because their new Acela Express brings all of those quality features, plus more, to a model of Amtraks newest contender on their Northeast Corridor.

The Prototype
In development and testing for several years, Amtraks Acela finally started revenue s ervice between Washington and Boston in mid-December, about the same time as Bachmanns model started arriving in hobby shops. You cant get much more state-of-theart than that. The prototype Acela Express is a double-ended, eight-unit train set with six cars and a power unit at each end. The cars, which are semi-permanently coupled together, include a First Class car, four Business Class cars and a Bistro car. The power units at each end are rated at 6,250-hp each and can quickly speed the train to its top in-service speed of 150 mph between New York and Boston, making that portion of the trip in 3 hours and 23 minutes. Between New York and Washington, top speed is 135 mph, with a travel time of 2 hours and 44 minutes. By this summer, 20 Acela Express trains are expected to be making 19 round

trips between New York and Washington and ten between New York and Boston on a daily basis. Bombardier of Canada heads the consortium with Alston, producer of the French TGV, that received the Amtrak contract to produce the Acela in March 1996, beating o ut Siemens and ABB. Bombardier has exclusive TGV technology rights in North A merica. Siemens produces the German ICE, while ABB manufactures the Swedish X2000. To increase passenger comfort on curves at high speed, the six cars can tilt independently, up to 6.5 depending on speed, to neutralize about three-fourths of the lateral forces experienced while going around a curve. Passengers are also treated to many comforts to make their travel more enjoyable. First Class passengers have their c hoice of audio or visual entertainment while Business Class travelers must settle for audio only, but both classes have access to an electrical outlet at each seat for lap tops, etc.

The Model
Bachmanns train set is nicely pack aged with a flip-top case that opens to display two power units (only one is powered) a nd three cars, a First Class, a Business C lass and a Bistro (Cafe) car, all neatly and securely nestled in a formed Styrofoam insert. The set also includes a 45" x 63" oval of 22" radius E-Z Track and a Spectrum power pack. First impressions of this set are great. The paint and graphics are excellent. The tinted, flush-mounted windows let you see just enough of the interior detail to let you know it is there. The powered power unit with its die-cast chassis has real heft to it. The working pantographs are impressive, as is the rest of the roof detailing. The cars are nicely weighted. The model accurately captures the feel of the prototype. While I d ont have access to prototype dimen sional data, it is my understanding that all m ajor dimensions are replicated reason ably accurately.

Bachmann has obtained exclusive rights to use Amtraks distinctive Acela logo on a model train.



Added January 5, 2011 - Share