The 30 Class 350/1 ‘Desiro’ units are dual voltage trains fitted with both a pantograph and third rail shoe beams. Fitted out with 2+2 seating, the Class 350/1 sets dominate middle distance services such as Birmingham New Street – Liverpool Lime Street trains and those on the southern part of the WCML along side high density Class 350/2 and a small batch of newer Class 350/3 units. Then brand new No. 350111 passes Bescot Stadium station on a training special.
The four-car Class 350 Desiro EMUs definitely have something of a following. It is an attractive model in N gauge as well as OO gauge, and is quite a large train, measuring 57cm in length when coupled together. The quality of assembly is very good, with individual mouldings neatly clipped together and with consistent finishing.
The review model shown here is finished in ‘unbranded’ grey and blue because Class 350/1 units would be operated jointly with two franchises. Their introduction was on the cusp of a reorganisation which would see the disbanding of Silverlink and Central Trains to form London Midland.
The interim ‘Silverlink’ livery is wonderfully simple: silver and blue with full yellow ends and black around the windows. The model appears neatly finished and captures the spartan appearance of the interim livery perfectly.
Overall, the first impressions are reasonably good, even allowing for the considerable coupling gap between vehicles which seems a little strange given the use of close coupling cams on the inner ends of all four vehicles except the power bogie! Note that the pantograph is a stand-in and nothing like the ‘Brecknell Willis’ pans fitted to the full size units.
The unpowered trailers are very free rolling with low profile wheel sets fitted to nicely detailed bogies. The powered car (TSO) has a single drive bogie located under the pantograph well. Shoe beam detail is fitted to both bogies of the driving cab vehicles. Note that split axle wheel sets are used throughout with current collection through the axle ends of unpowered bogies in the leading cars so there is a power supply for the running lights.
Sophisticated electronics are fitted to this model including a 6-pin DCC interface socket located inside the motorised vehicle, the body shell has to be removed to access it. Provision is also made for the fitting of a sound decoder and speaker. Lighting circuits and 6-pin DCC interface sockets are fitted to the DMSO vehicles with an on-off switch located under the floor. Three decoders are needed to fully power the unit on a DCC layout.
The interim livery applied to Class 350/1 units was short-lived and it was not long before the units were adorned with the attractive London Midland livery. It goes to show that it is worth photographing modern equipment – you never know when things will change and they do, often quite quickly!
Trans -Pennine Express livery as applied to a Class 350/4. Since the introduction of Class 350/1 and 350/2, the type has subsequently been introduced on Trans-Pennine Express services between Edinburgh and Glasgow to Manchester Airport, making them a common sight on almost the whole length of the WCML.