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Northern Belle

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I can't say it was on my radar, but then we got an email on Sunday from a friend telling us that she is taking my wife an I for a day drip to Loch Lomond on the Northern Belle. Suddenly I'm rather interested in this


Looks like its Railroad, but I'm not that bothered about that. Even with the supplementary coach pack it's a bargain compared to a ticket on the prototype.

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  • 3 months later...

No sign of the 2nd quarter release of Northen Belle from Hornby…

Trip to Loch Lomond is on Friday and we've just got confirmation of the itinerary, or to put it another way, confirmation of the itinerary change.

When we booked it was a 09:00 dept York with a 09:30 Leeds. Return was 20:30 LDS and 21:00 YRK. This was the only information given and beenning the curious type I tried to work out the rest of the schedule. If you are familiar with train services in the North of England and Scotland have a go yourself before you read on.

This was my take on it.

York first then Leeds meant we were going down the Settle to Carlise. From Carlise I would have guessed a charter would be kept off the West Coast Main Line and be routed up the Glasgow and South Western, quite how it would get from there to the North Clyde network was anyone's guess, but then we would alight at Helensborough Central or Dumbarton, Balloch station being far too small these days for a charter. We then get a boat trip on Lock Lomond, some time in the pretty little village of Luss and the a coach back to the train for the return on the same route in reverse.

Having worked out the route I'd did the maths and concluded that you'd be very very hard pressed to do York Dumbarton in less than 5 hours, you couldn't do it in 4 on service trains doing 125mph via Edinburgh. 5 hours each way leaves 2 at Loch Lomond, it turns out we will have 4 hours there!

So our new itinerary has arrived. And now we are departing at 06:50 and returning at 00:00. Now I'm all for an extra 6 hours on one of Britains most luxurious trains and the extra food and drink they have promised, but I really don't like the way they have gone about this. Apparently the reason for the increase journey time is because we are now going along the Settle to Carlise route (England's most scenic), but York then Leeds meant we always were (would the Little North Western, the Calder Valley, or even Manchester been any quicker?).

I can't help but conclude that we have been lied to. The original timings were impossible, but getting people on a train that departs at 06:50 and returns at midnight must be a hard sell, much easier to fib about the timings and add a caveat that "itinerary is subject to change".

One more thing. Our friend, who is treating us to this very expensive trip, mentioned that "it also says that we may not have a steam loco". A steam loco? This was news to me. The Northen Belle is top and tailed by a pair of DRS 47s usually the ones painted in Pullman livery. I had no expectation of steam haulage, but Orient Express Group have given that expectation to their punters.

We are going to have a fabulous day, but this is literally a "once in a lifetime trip" and I don't like being conned by a company charging £325 a ticket.

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  • 6 months later...

Thumbing through magazines while in Smiths I came across mention of Hornby having a preproduction sample of the Northen Belle on display at a show. Review commented on how it was a ex Lima 47 and ex Airfix Mk 2b's, but dispite their age they were impressive.

Only another 6 months to wait, may be.

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I'll look forward to seeing that. Hope I've still got the open invitation as I'm looking forward to coming over again on a sunny and warm day in the summer. I'm told it's will be in late June this year! :)


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IanR said:

...I'm looking forward to coming over again on a sunny and warm day in the summer. I'm told it's will be in late June this year! :)...

That'll be the 28th-29th then... Roll on summer!

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  • 11 months later...

Still no Northern Belle form Hornby.

They did manage to produce a Class 47 in Northern Belle livery, but the Pullman Brown was more LMS Maroon.

I'm hoping that they will finally get this train released in 2014 and in with something close to the correct colours.

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  • 7 months later...

Finally I have a Northern Belle.

There was one final delay. On my birthday on Wednesday we headed in to York and popped into Monk Bar Model Shop only to find that they had already sold out of both the train pack and the coach pack!

After an evening of gentle celebrations I got onto Hattons web site as soon as I got home. I managed to limit my spending to only a couple of additional items.

They were delivered today and the quality is thankfully OK. No lights on the 47, and the couplings are the very opposite of close, but other than that the look is about right.

The moulded interior is a 2+2 seating rather than the actual 2+1 of the prototype which is a shame, that couldn't have been hard to get right. I'm sure I won't be the only person who having travelled on the Northern Belle will want to improve the interiors of these coaches. That will be a big winter project for Sarah and me.

The problem I have is that a loco and 6 coaches doesn't look long enough on Amblethorpe (yes I have DCCed it and given it a few loops). I need a loco for the second end and a few more coaches. I may purchase another train pack.

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  • 2 months later...

In the end I did buy another Train Pack. I now have a 2+9 formation.



Running the two locos as a consist works well, although I am expecting issues as they run in a bit.

I'll need to get a detailing pack for one loco and I will get some for the coaches as well.

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That looks fantastic Chris, it really does. I'm sure the incorrect interiors are an irritation but for now, from normal viewing distances, they certainly look the part. A winter sorting them out, adding some additional detail and perhaps close coupling the coaches and you'll have a set to be proud of.

I have the two Rail Exclusive Northern Belle class 47s on order (ViTrains models) and their release is imminent. I hadn't considered getting hold of the Hornby coaches, intending just to use the two loco's together as 'visiting engines'. If I felt capable of upgrading the Hornby coaches without damaging them then I'd maybe rethink my decision, more so after seeing that rake of yours.

Look forward to seeing them out again in the Spring.

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Buy the coaches. It's a glamorous train and even with its shortcomings it looks great. You do need lots of them to create the effect, 6 doesn't cut it. But I'd be quick about it, it looks to have sold very well, I'm sure the Rail Exclusive locos have a lot to do with that.

I was going to buy the Rail Exclusive in DRS Blue, but they had sold out before I finally decided I wanted one. The Hornby 47 is worth the money, just about and fine for the garden.

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chris said:

Buy the coaches. It's a glamorous train and even with its shortcomings it looks great....

I really do need to resist the urge to. I'm currently trying to thin my collection out and I've already added the West Highland MK1s. In fact I think I've added more coaches than I've managed to dispose of so far, so I'm going to have to make do with watching yours from a distance. My RE 47's will just have to make do with something a little less glamorous when they 'visit' Worsley Dale.

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  • 3 years later...

If you intend buying the Hornby R3697 pack, be aware that the loco described as a Class 57  (57601 Windsor Castle) is actually the Railroad Class 47. A strange decision as they could easily have modelled a genuine Northern Belle Class 47.  Northern Belle is now operated by a company associated with West Coast Railways using Class 57salthough when it belonged to Belmond, Direct Rail Service (DRS) provided the traction using Class 47s.

If that discrepancy does not trouble you the pack is quite good value if you get it from the right place. It definitely pays to shop around for this item.

There have been several Northern Belle sets produced, one of which included steam loco Duchess of Sutherland, with rails and controller.

A Northern Belle baggage car is available from Bachmann to Collectors Club members and is modelled on the only surviving BG still operating on NetworkRail

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