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Hornby Class 395

Hornby Class 395 unit

photograph by Colin Duff

Hornby's record with Southern EMUs over the past two decades has been rather chequered with their toy-like and incomplete Eurostar and the good-in-parts Class 466 Networker. For their latest foray into the Southern EMU stock the choice of the Hitachi Class 395 Bullet train (the use of the marketing term "Javelin" should really be restricted to these units' use as shuttle trains during the 2012 Olympics) appears to be quite astute because it has appeal to both modern image modellers and Southern Electric modellers plus the more general appeal of being Britain's only high speed domestic train and its forthcoming association with the 2012 London Olympics. There is also the matter of Hornby's known attachment to the type of trains which run or ran in Kent! Hornby have released their model, initially their R2821 4 car pack, ahead of the class's full introduction to service with the December 2009 timetable change. However, these units have been in service since the summer running SouthEastern's "preview" service, which has proved to be more popular than anticipated.

Hornby have chosen to model unit 395001, the first of the class arriving from Japan but then used for extensive type-testing and so not initially fitted out for passenger use. This unit is likely to be one of the last in passenger service and at the time of writing is being commissioned and tested.

Class 395 units have 6 cars. Hornby are selling their models as a 4 car pack consisting of DPTSO 395011, MSO 395012, MSO 395013 and DPTSO 395016. The other MSOs 395014 & 395015 will be available individually. Being a modern unit it is easy to describe them as featureless, which may be true about the large body panels, however there is a fair amount of fine detail to represent and then there are the complex curves. This Hornby have done to a high standard which elevates this model well above their previous forays. In terms of moulding, the detail on the roofs is very well done- of particular note are the airconditioning fans below grilles. True this model does not contain the separately applied detail and etched metal grilles that their new HST power cars have but the moulding is of such a high standard that this is of no concern. SouthEastern's sombre High Speed purple/lilac/black livery is well executed and although not easy to see the dotty fading out of the black window cheat line is reproduced. Also very well reproduced by printing are the door open buttons and assorted legends. Some of the finest details on this model, both moulded and printed, are easy to miss due to being on the recessed inner car ends. Make sure you take a look! And whilst looking there also note the representation of the glass doors to the corridor connections. The flush glazing is very pleasing, through which a representation of the interior can be viewed.

This model comes with working directionally controlled lights- including the "Cyclops" light- but non working plastic pantographs. The latter are quite delicate which underscore this being a scale model rather than a toy. It is powered by a single "pancake" motor power bogie at the inner end of driving car 395011. An elementary form of compensation is applied to the non powered bogies. All wheels pleasingly have brake disc inserts. Cars are coupled together by plastic drawbars sprung into sockets which are part of body mounted close coupling mechanisms. Whilst it is relatively easy to insert the drawbars detaching them is very difficult (requiring narrow point tweezers to compress the springy tongues so they can be withdrawn from their receptacles) so the unit is best left permanently coupled, if possible. Some Class 395 services will run as 12 car. There is no provision on this model for coupling units together which keeps the sleek front end from having un-naturally large panel lines if removable hatches were fitted to allow coupling. If modellers want to run 12car formations they would be advised to attempt surgery to a single front of two units, fit couplings such as Kadees and then aim always to run them together.

Conclusion - this is by far the best Southern EMU produced by Hornby to date, for which grateful thanks.

  • R2821 4 car pack DCC ready
  • R2821X 4 car pack DCC fitted
  • R4382 MSO
  • R4383 MSO

Other, subsequent, Class 395 models (which are not necessarily realistic) have been:

  • R2972 + R4452 + R4453 395003 "Sir Steve Redgrave" Southeastern
  • R3185 395004 "Sir Chris Hoy" with Javelin branding. Note Hornby do not intend to produce cars 4 and 5 for this version and advise that R4452 & R4453 for 39503 are still in stock. There is an opportunity for an enterprising manufacturer to produce re-numbering transfers here!
  • R1139 + R4438 "Blue Rapier" trainset (reduced specification Class 395 models)
  • R2951 2012 London Olympics pictogram train pack (white)
  • R1153 2012 London Olympics/Paralympics 3 car trainset (purple)