The largest model train show in the country, the Amherst Railway Society Railroad Hobby Show takes place each January at the Eastern State Exposition Center in West Springfield, Massachusetts. With this year’s show now complete, we thought we’d look back and give an overview on the biggest news items and highlights from the show.
Unmatched in size, the Amherst show spans four exhibition halls, covering about 400,000 square feet. There are countless vendors, and an average of around sixty operating layouts ranging from N to G scale (and even larger). Perhaps the main draw however is the attendance of all major North American model railroad manufacturers. Owing to the popularity of this show, many use it as a chance to market or release new products, some of which will not have been seen until this point. We had a chance to catch up with a selection of the big names to see what to expect in 2019 and beyond.
Although Athearn had already announced the majority of it’s expected items for 2019, many examples were on display in full painted detail for the first time. Highlights included the HO scale PRLX SD70ACe with “C&O” graffiti markings, and their beautifully patched CSX SD40-2 #4617; the last CSX locomotive to wear it’s original C&O paint.
One future release which was announced was a selection of detailed N scale Low-Cube shipping containers, of which several unpainted examples were on display, and we were given some broad details on a major locomotive release expected to come later in the year…
Again displaying many previously announced items for the first time, the focus of Atlas’s presence was the N scale Modern Commuter Train, featuring the Bombardier ALP45DP locomotive and Multi Level passenger cars, painted and lettered for NJ Transit and AMT Montreal. Additional new items included N scale heavyweight passenger cars previously released in HO scale, and N scale Norfolk Southern SD60E locomotives.
Most of the buzz surrounding Atlas was centered on a table featuring four posters announcing a selection of brand new freight rolling stock. Perhaps most anticipated was the HO scale Multi-Max Autorack car, which will be available with several prototypical body variations.
Additional announcements included HO ACF 5250 Covered Hoppers, N scale Airslide Hoppers, and HO Trinity 3230 Covered Hoppers.
Taking center stage near the entrance of the main hall, Bachmann had an elaborate display, featuring a selection of new product samples in O, HO, and N scales, as well as two attractive demonstration layouts.
Most noteworthy of their new releases included several new products in HO scale, such as realistically detailed scale test cars, which will be available painted and lettered for the B&O, Burlington Northern, Canadian National, and Union Pacific. Additionally, front and center, was a selection of new Amfleet passenger cars. While these have been released in the past, the new versions come with additional painted detail, displaying Amtrak’s latest paint scheme variations, and for the first time will include metal details and black painted diaphragms.
Bowser had their share of new products on display, including new paint schemes and variations of cars from their popular range of steam and transition era HO scale rolling stock. These included a broad selection of new schemes for their GLA Hopper cars, and a new range of both 55 Ton “Fishbelly” Hoppers, and brand new PRR X31 and K11 40’ Boxcars.
Broadway Limited Imports
Always innovating, Broadway Limited Imports had the majority of their current and planned line on display. Most notable was the HO Scale PRR P5 Electric Locomotive, which is due for delivery in February, and the stunningly painted “Daylight” example of their latest line of GE AC6000 diesels.
On the N Scale side of their display, their well known SD40-2, E Unit, and F Unit lines were the main attraction, however they did show us a couple of test shells for their upcoming EMD SW switcher, slated to be the smallest locomotive in their line with full DCC and sound capabilities.
Exactrail featured several of their new and upcoming modern era freight items in their display, including newly announced Johnstown American Autoflood Coal Hoppers in N scale, with display models painted for CSX, BNSF, UCEX, and more, and a selection of Berwick 50’ Appliance boxcars in HO scale, with choices of Rock Island, Illinois Central, Penn Central, and Conrail paint schemes.
Hard to miss with their bright red table and signage, Intermountain had a range of new products on display in both HO and N scale. Centerpiece to their display was a selection of pre-production examples from their planned EMD GP16 HO Scale locomotive series. Featuring road names such as Santa Fe Southern, RJ Corman, and Buckingham Branch, these will no doubt be a welcome addition to the modern modeling world.
In addition, a selection of newly announced freight cars were also featured, including HO scale ACF 2-Bay hoppers and ACF 4650 hoppers, painted in a variety of modern and classic schemes, Pacific Fruit Express Wood Reefers, and N scale modern Cylindrical hoppers.
Rapido Trains Inc
Bringing their outstanding Canadian charm with them, Rapdio had a great selection of new and upcoming items on display. Centerpieces included the first painted sample of their HO Scale New Haven EP-5 electric, and samples of their highly anticipated GE B36-7 models in both Conrail and Santa Fe schemes.
Other items included examples of their newly released New Haven 8600 Series N Scale commuter cars, and their new line of HO Scale Alco locomotives, including the stunningly detailed RS-11 and RS-18, detailed for both US and Canadian operators, and the Canadian Pacific Royal Hudson steam locomotive, as well as a selection of posters detailing new and upcoming steam and diesel locomotives, passenger, and freight rolling stock. Similarly to Athearn, we were told to expect another major announcement later in the year…
Promoting a new locomotive announcement at the show, Scaletrains had drummed up a good deal of hype. This was not unfounded, as they announced their first ever GE Dash 9 diesel locomotive, in both HO and N scale, with both Operator and Rivet Counter versions. The widecab version was announced to already be shipping in BNSF and Norfolk Southern schemes, and a pre-production sample of a future standard cab variation was additionally on display.
Other expected items included the upcoming HO Scale SD40T-2 Tunnel Motor, the recently released N scale C39-8, a selection of modern freight cars including the HO scale Rivet Counter BSC F68AH Bulkhead Flatcar and the N scale PS-4785 Covered Hopper, as well as new paint schemes and detail versions for the HO Scale SD40-2, Tier 4 GEVO, and the C39-8.
Note: Due to the size of this show and the time available, we were unable to visit with every manufacturer. The selection mentioned above is in no way a demonstration of favoritism over other brands, all of which produce fantastic, exciting products!