25 January 2023
With looks and sounds that "keep our reviewer entertained for hours", Andy York examines this tooling from the manufacturer.
The Class 92 is a dual-voltage electric locomotive capable of running on 25kV AC from overhead lines via pantograph, or 750V DC from a third rail. It was designed specifically for operation through the Channel Tunnel between Britain and France for sleeper and freight services and, as a common user, are classified CC 92000 on French Railways. Since introduction in 1994, the fleet has been allocated to freight. However, six of the class now operate the Caledonian Sleeper service between London and Scotland.
Etched plates are an exact fit over the printed versions, so care should be taken when fitting.
A total of 46 of these interesting and complex locomotives, which were capable of delivering 6,700hp in AC mode and 5,630hp on third-rail DC (making them amongst the most powerful on the British network) were built between 1993 and 1996 as part of the landmark Channel Tunnel project, to convey freight and sleeper trains between Britain and France. The power requirement came from the need to be capable of drawing heavy trains up the steady gradients towards the exits of the tunnel portals. The locomotives had to be able to draw current from either the 25kV AC overhead supply where available, or the 750V DC third rail on the former Southern Region lines to the Channel, which increased their complexity.
Throughout their history, the class has been something of a 'Cinderella', with the anticipated freight traffic on the opening of the Channel Tunnel taking a while to materialise and the ‘Nightstar’ sleeper trains saw cancellation before services could start, meaning that the 92s built for the role were languishing in storage for many years at Crewe. Five of the class were acquired by Eurotunnel for operation onto the French network. Eventually, they got to go to the ball with the start of the Caledonian Sleeper from 2015, one of their intended traffic uses, a service that led Accurascale to choose the Class 92 as its second locomotive to tie in with the soon to arrive Mark 5 coaching stock.
Although slab-sided, there are complex shapes to the roof curvature over the cab, all well captured by Accurscale.
Luckily, the locomotives have acquitted themselves well on intermodal, steel and general freight traffic for BR, EWS, DB and GBRf over the past 25 years. Accurascale’s launch models span the life of the Class 92 on the WCML, ECML, Ex-BR(S) lines and HS1, and our review model, an Accurascale Exclusive limited edition run of 500 of the blue-roofed RfD livery 92022 Charles Dickens with cast plates rather than the vinyl names originally carried in DCC sound form.
The stylishly-designed box sets the initial impressions of quality, which follows through to every aspect of the model. There’s an excellent bi-lingual Operator Guide giving notes on the class history, operating instructions, a handy DCC function guide card, and a small card with window blinds for the user to fit, if desired. There is an impressive heft of the model when taken from the box. The shape and style of the real locomotive is totally captured from the extremes of flat, relatively plain, bodysides through to fine detail with many individually fitted parts on the chassis and roof. Through close examination of photos of the class, there are no faults to find but you soon get sucked into admiring the detail on the roof and the very fine, but sufficiently robust, pantographs. There’s a yellow warning card in the box to make sure you unclip these before use!
The livery and numerous markings are to a standard equal of the best in the scale, especially the roof and bogie detail. The glazing is quite superb and fine enough to see that there’s a lot of paint and transfer detail on the cab backhead which can easily be seen with cab and driver’s control panel lighting. Etched nameplates, cabside arrows and depot plaque are provided with the accessory pack to place over the printed versions. The tunnel polos on the bodyside of our review model are moulded and added to the bodyside as they are of greater depth containing a layered depth of rings, which an etched part would not be able to capture.
Personally, I’d never given much consideration to sound provision for electric locomotives but this model has completely changed my opinion. Listening to the assorted whirrs and clunks during the start-up and variety of sounds in motion are as impressive as any sound diesel locomotive – I am completely won over!
There's a lot to digest when you open the box, with a rewarding read on the complex history of the class and how to get the best out of your model.
This model’s party trick is the pantographs, individually motored and operable with a superbly smooth and quiet motion, all of the associated noise coming from the sound features. The pantographs arm and heads are finely captured but do not feel as though they would be easily or inadvertently damaged. Literally the only criticism of the model I could mention is that the pan head does not sit level in its down position, but it is correctly positioned when raised. In its up position, it’s very lightly sprung, so you are unlikely to have any issues with contact to overhead wiring; I would have to do some exploration to see if the operation can be set at a lower or higher maximum height than the default, which is around 20mm above roof height. I’m sure this feature will be demonstrated far more on the model than it would be on the real thing.
I could play for hours with all of the 28 sound and light functions and the permutations in operation, even as the ultimate executive desk toy, but putting it to the test on track the model manages to be virtually silent in non-sound mode and smile-inducing noisy in sound mode. Straight from the box, it’s superbly smooth and romped off with 22 Mk. 1 coaches through to its scale top speed of 87mph, so there are no concerns there at all, thanks to the beefy 5-pole motor, two brass flywheels and helical gearbox. There’s unlikely to be any interruption to power and sound on your layout thanks to the bank of stay-alive capacitors.
To get inside to find what packs a powerful punch to this model, it’s a case of unclipping the bodysides from the chassis around the centre of the bogies and separating to reveal the substantial die-cast alloy chassis block. The circuit board housing the 21-pin MTC DCC socket sits on top of the chassis block, but you can’t fail to miss the large Accurathrash branded 55 x 24mm EM1 ultra bass sound speaker fitted to the sound models with the secondary sugarcube speaker to give plenty of noise from the ESU Loksound 5 decoder.
In summary, this is an exceptional model, with superb execution of detail, fascinating performance and functionality, and astonishing value for money by comparison with general market trends for a product of this quality. If you can find any justification for this model, you will certainly not regret it.
Join our weekly email newsletter. Don't miss the latest news, reviews, modelling advice and competitions.