Bachmann’s HO Scale Amfleet has been available in various forms for almost as long as Amfleets have been in existence. However just like the prototype, the model has gone through several incarnations over the past 40 years. The highly anticipated 2019 release is now here, and we’re taking a first hand look at these updated examples.
Although widely recognized as an Amtrak icon, the Amfleet passenger car can be traced back to the Pennsylvania Railroad in the 1960s. The first trains to use this design were self propelled electric railcars known as Metroliners, which were built for the PRR’s high speed runs between New York and Washington. These sleek, tubular Budd built cars were unlike anything America had seen before, and when passenger operations were transferred to Amtrak in 1971, the company inherited the entire fleet.
While new Metroliners were speeding passengers from city to city in the Northeast, the rest of Amtrak’s inherited fleet was reaching the end of it’s useful life. Many cars had been in service for 30 or more years upon acquisition, and a large portion of the fleet still used antiquated steam heating systems. Once funding for new equipment had been secured, Amtrak looked to Budd, the producer of the Metroliner, to come up with a modern, cost effective alternative to these aging cars.
In 1975 the first Amfleets entered service. Lighter and more streamlined than many of their predecessors, their introduction led to improved reliability and ridership gains across the Amtrak network. Almost 500 were delivered over the course of the next three years, and aside from examples retired due to accidents and incidents, the type remains in service as Amtrak’s flagship single-level car to this day.
The 2019 Bachmann Amfleet has been heralded as the most authentic version yet, featuring new components and details never seen on previous examples. Most notably, this is the first release to accurately replicate the current paint scheme and configuration of cars used on the Northeast Corridor. All three car styles used in the region have been replicated, including Coach, Business Class, and Cafe Cars, allowing modelers to replicate an up-to-date Northeast Regional consist – perfect to pair with the recently released Bachmann ACS-64 locomotive.
As with all previous examples, the cars have been produced with durable molded plastic, displaying scale streamlined fluting, molded vents and car end components, with additional rooftop details on the cafe car. Underbody components also remain fairly unchanged, with some variations between car types. Realistically molded interiors – a hallmark of these models – have once again been included on all examples.
Taking a look at the paint scheme, all colors appear accurately replicated, with fine line reproduction and little evidence of overlapping. Printed details and authentic graphics, such as wheelchair accessibility symbols, car designations, and welcome signs, are however the first signs of the improved quality and realism on this release.
Take a close look at the body, and more new external detail will reveal itself. Authentically replicated metal grab irons now come factory installed on both the car-ends and vestibule door areas, factory painted MU plugs have been added, window trims have been given a fine black painted edge, and a separately manufactured painted diaphragm comes installed on each car-end doorway. Additionally, the metal wheels and accompanying undercarriage are now finished in a realistic matte black.
Each car includes factory installed interior lighting, which displays at a constant voltage on DCC systems, as well as functioning car-end marker lights, and realistic knuckle couplers for compatibility with models from other manufacturers.
Although these well regarded cars have been produced in various forms over the years, Bachmann has given them a worthy update with this release, and we’re sure that they’ll look absolutely stunning negotiating the scenery of any HO scale layout. For the full line of Bachmann Amtrak equipment, visit our Bachmann selection at Modeltrainstuff.com!