Bachmann is to produce an ‘Autoballaster’ wagon in ‘OO’.
VOTED THE NUMBER 1 most requested wagon by modern modellers in a DEMU poll, and promoted by RAIL EXPRESS Modeller as one of the biggest gaps in the range of available 4mm scale wagons, Bachmann is to be applauded for stepping up and announcing the HQA/JJA ‘Autoballaster’ wagon for its excellent and growing range of Branchline ‘OO’ wagons.
In 1995, ten KPA wagons were converted from 90-tonne hopper wagons by Tiphook Rail as test beds for a innovative new fleet of high output ballast hoppers. The converted wagons were fitted with radio controlled, air-powered discharge doors, allowing ballast to be dropped on the move during engineering work possessions. The design was further refined with lighting, air and power supplies added.
Five years later, a further 104 wagons were converted for track maintenance firm GTRM (later Carillion Rail) and the then national infrastructure owner Railtrack. These were leased from GE Rail Services and carried JJA TOPS codes. All 104 wagons can be found in use on Network Rail operations, which replaced Railtrack in 2002 after it went in liquidation.
A further 190 new wagons were ordered by Railtrack for delivery in 2002-03, and were classed under the ‘railway-owned’ HQA TOPS code (and are notable for carrying a fourth letter which designates the specific vehicle type). Again constructed by Wabtec Rail at Doncaster, the ‘Autoballasters’ operate in permanently coupled five-unit sets. A further 50 followed in 2003 for Network Rail and 10 were delivered to First GB Railfreight in 2006 for use on the Metronet infrastructure contracts for Transport for London.
The JJA fleet is composed of two different vehicles. One outer vehicle in each five-unit rake is fitted with generator equipment, while the other four units are ‘standard’ JJA bogie hoppers without generators. The HQAs are slightly different, being designed to run semi-permanently coupled together.
Bachmann will be producing the following: Generator vehicle (38-212), Standard wagon (38-211). Both have a recommended retail price of £26.50 and will carry Railtrack fawn and blue livery.
A comprehensive selection of images, which covers both the standard and generator fitted version of the JJA ‘Autoballasters’ can be found on Wagons on the Web.