Introduction : Passenger Cars
Locomotives alone, however impressive, do not a railway make. To complete your train you will need some large scale rolling stock to match the scale of your motive power. Needless to say, the industry has developed a very extensive range of suitable products to help you create virtually any type of train or ’consist’ (a set of railway vehicles forming a complete train) as it is sometimes known.
Whilst the large scale modeller has almost certainly never had it so good in many respects the sheer abundance of stock of every conceivable type on the market can necessitate lengthy deliberations as to what to choose for your line.
As each of the major manufacturers customarily gives first attention to producing rolling stock indigenous to their host country the majority of products reflect European (especially German) and North American practice thus representing prototypes to be found locally. This is good news if you intend to model European or USA Railroads but otherwise you may have to rely on kits or custom built rolling stock.
Companies in the UK do try to compete with overseas suppliers when it comes to passenger cars and freight wagons based on UK prototypes but the demand is not always sufficient to achieve the economies of scale needed. There are a number of smaller UK suppliers producing rolling stock for British narrow gauge lines and I will identify these later in this module.
As I said there are so many items of large scale rolling stock available that it is difficult to cover adequately in a guide of this nature. Unless you intend to create a whimsical line running a operating range of stock it is best to stick to conformity with the prototype although you do not need to be unduly strict in this regard. There can often be a justification for running another company’s freight wagons on your railway. Whatever approach you adopt you will need to undertake you own in-depth market research and wade through each manufacturer’s latest catalogue (increasingly available free to download thus saving you unnecessary outlay) to see what is currently obtainable.
It is also worth perusing old catalogues to check on discontinued or “rested” products in case you can still get them from a retailer or on the auction sites. Some large scale manufacturers (or helpful enthusiasts) maintain a product archive which can be invaluable and I have already mentioned to the historical product guides available. These lines sometimes acquire a premium due to their rarity value but there are still bargains to be had.
I this module I propose to cover passenger cars with other types of freight rolling stock covered in Module 18.
PASSENGER COACHES OR CARS
A Passenger Coach/Car is, as its name suggests, designed for the transport of passengers and can be open seating with central aisle. or have individual compartments (often with a side corridor for access). The transportation of passengers has always been an important contribution towards the growth of railways in many countries and most modellers will aim to have at least one passenger train on their roster.
For whatever reason most large-scale model train manufacturers tend to focus on passenger cars from earlier eras (reflecting the nostalgia for steam transport) especially those with shorter wheelbases. This is especially true where carriages from the turn of the last century (late 1890’s to early 1990’s) are noticeably prevalent.
In the smaller railway modelling scales, especially in the UK, you are far more likely to find the 1920's - 1970's better represented by passenger cars operated by the "Big Four" pre-nationalisation companies: London Midland and Scottish (LMS); Great Western Railway (GWR); London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) and the Southern Railway (SR) or the equivalent prototypes in the rest of Europe.
Old Time and Narrow Gauge coaches are invariably shorter than the modern streamlined cars used on today’s railways and generally fall into certain distinct configurations:
Passenger Coach or Carriage (UK) or Cars (USA)
Combine (USA) or Brake (UK) Coaches
Full Baggage Coach
Special Coaches or Cars such as:
Sleeping or Pullman
Restaurant or Dining
A passenger car (normally referred to as a coach or carriage in the UK) is, as its name suggests, designed for the transport of passengers and can be open seating with central aisle. or have individual compartments (often with a side corridor for access). Over the centuries passenger cars have undergone quite a transformation evolving from short stubby uncomfortable "wagons" (literally based on horse drawn carriages) to long streamlined comfortable cars travelling at high speed, often with panoramic views of the passing scenery.
Most large-scale train manufacturers, at least the major ones, tend to produce passenger cars which complement the era, style and railway company of the locomotives they have already released or are about to. Some even group a couple of coaches (usually a passenger car and combine car) together with the relevant engine and issue them as part of a starter set aimed at newer or younger enthusiasts. The popularity of these sets usually means that you can acquire a full matching passenger train for quite a bit less than the cost of purchasing the same items separately.
Bachmann seem to have a company policy of issuing certain matching cars only in sets or encourage you to buy additional matching observation and baggage cars in the same livery separately. Piko also tend to follow this practice but usually have a much wider range
of railroad liveries to choose from often with identical cars having different names or
numbers so that you can extend your train easily without duplication. LGB, on the other hand, appear to have a more liberal attitude and focus on the actual merits of the passenger car itself.
Here is a summary of products in this category together with their manufacturer. I have also included quite a few discontinued lines which may still be available at retail outlets or second-hand.Just click on the relevant subject title to read about passenger cars produced by that particular manufacturer. The chosen button link will take you to the dedicated module concerned.