IRM Gets Enterprising With NIR Mark 2 Coaches!
We are very proud to reveal the latest addition to our well-received range of rolling stock; the Mk.2b series of coaches as used on classic Enterprise services. Welcome to IRM's first ever model of iconic Irish coaching stock!
Built at Litchurch Lane, Derby, during 1970, eight examples were constructed for Northern Ireland Railways for its new 'Enterprise' service between Belfast and Dublin, this landmark service featuring a range of bespoke vehicles that were quite unlike anything then in operation in Ireland or indeed on BR, despite being a derivative of a BR design.
The eight Mk.2b coaches acquired in by the newly formed Northern Ireland Railways (NIR) included new types; one First Open (FO), two Brake Driving Trailer Seconds (BDTS) and a single Grill-Bar, the latter being the only purpose-built Mk.2 catering vehicle. The other four vehicles were designated SO although were almost indistinguishable from BR TSOs. Delivered in NIR's blue and maroon scheme with B4 bogies set to the Irish 5ft 3in track gauge, they initially worked in push-pull formation on the Belfast-Dublin 'Enterprise' express service with one of the three Hunslet 'DL' 101 class locomotives for power, or a pair top and tailed or double headed in the summer months.
In 1978 the fleet, which now included five Mk.2c coaches purchased in 1972, was refurbished and repainted in a new silver-grey and blue livery. However the increasingly unreliable Hunslets - despite sharing an engine and many mechanical and electrical components with the BR Class 20s - were replaced in 1980 with General Motors 111 Class locomotives.
The lack of electric train supply on the new motive power required the addition of a generator coach to each 'Enterprise' formation, NIR acquiring five ex-BR Mk.2b BFKs for conversion in 1980. They were joined at the same time by an additional ten secondhand Mk.2b coaches and three Mk.2c. The use of driving trailers on the Enterprise trains ended with the introduction of the 111, becoming hauled as normal coaching stock thereafter.
With additional stock on hand the sight of 'Enterprise' trains away from their usual cross-border route was becoming more common, with formations of between three and five coaches in particular being common on Portadown/Lisburn-Belfast-Bangor and Belfast-Derry/Londonderry trains, usually with a single Hunslet in charge in push-pull formation. By the middle of the next decade a number of the ex-BR coaches were rebuilt as open coaches, while others were converted to strengthen 80 Class DEMU sets or replace bomb damaged vehicles.
In 1987 NIR was split into three operational sectors, the Enterprise coming under the new InterCity division. The result of this was a new livery, a modification of the existing grey/blue with the addition of a pair of white stripes either side of the thick blue band.
However this was replaced the following year by a blue/yellow/black/white scheme that was so well liked that it became NIR's corporate image in 1991 on the abandonment of sectorisation.
The Enterprise welcomed its third major motive power change in 1995 with the arrival of the GM 201 class, although by this point Irish Rail locomotives had become an increasingly common sight leading these trains. The introduction of replacement De Dietrich Ferroviaire-built coaching stock - shared with IR - for the prestige service in 1997 was the beginning of the end for the Mk.2 fleet although they could still be found working the cross-border route into 1999.
The IRM/Accurascale Mk.2b have been lovingly researched and designed based on surveys of numerous surviving vehicles around Britain and Northern Ireland along with works drawings and even a partial 3D scan to ensure that the characteristic tumblehome and shape of the ends is as accurate as possible. The survey extended to the interiors with particular attention being paid to the iconic winged headrests - each a separate part - that are such a feature of the first and second class seating throughout the early Mk.2s.
The NIR examples presented a particular challenge with numerous unique versions, a much wider track gauge and additional underframe boxes and roof details depending on the type. We even tooled up an Irish gauge B5 bogie - only used once - which was fitted to the generator end of the BGV coaches to accommodate the additional weight. The bogies for the NIR coaches are also bespoke compared to the BR versions, with the prototypical wider frame being faithfully represented allowing for 21mm fine scale conversion.
Of course, you want to see them in action, right? Check out this video from the smashing chaps at Hornby Magazine to learn more about them!
- Highly-detailed OO Gauge / 1:76.2 Scale Models on 16.5mm track
- Extremely fine exterior rivet detail on roof and coach ends
- Separately-applied etched metal and high-fidelity plastic parts, including handrails, brake/steam heat pipes, ETH cabling and sockets, footsteps, dummy drophead knuckle coupler, and roof vents
- Prism Free Glazing
- Pre-painted/printed Western Region destination boards and holders plus water filler covers provided for customer to install
- Fully-detailed underframe with numerous separate parts, pipe runs and accurate differences between versions
- The most accurate B4 and B5 bogies ever produced, with provision for re-gauging to EM or P4 (Irish 21mm) gauges
- Blackened RP25.110 profile wheel-sets with 14.4mm back-to-back measurements, and 26mm over pinpoints
- Different buffers for retracted and non-retracted positions
- Accurate interiors with characteristic 'winged' headrests, separate metal interior handrails on the brake and corridor vehicles and fully-detailed guard's compartment
- Full lighting package, including magnet 'wand' controlled interior lighting with 'Stay-Alive' capacitor in all coaches and directional lighting with DC or DCC control (Driving Trailer only)
- Minimum Radius 438mm (2nd Radius Set-track)
- Correct height NEM standard coupling sockets with mini tension lock couplers and kinematic close-coupling
Three livery variations will be catered for in our first run, starting with the classic sliver-grey and blue livery, prefect for blue Hunslet and 111 haulage, the transitional silver-grey and blue livery with Intercity branding, and blue/yellow/black/white scheme, perfect for 111s and NIR 201 haulage, as well as IR locomotives.
There will be three packs covering all coach variations in original sliver-grey and blue livery as well as blue/yellow/black/white scheme, with a single pack of three transitional silver-grey and blue livery with Intercity branding coaches which can be run in mixed formation with either original silver-grey and blue livery or blue/yellow/black/white livery for an authentic 1987-late 80s formation.
Each triple pack is priced at €199.99 and there is a 10% discount when you order three or more packs.
As you can see with the samples above, tooling is complete and the first pre-production samples have been delivered and the project is well advanced. However, there are corrections being made based on the samples which are now being undertaken by the factory. Overall there is a wealth of detail, crispness and they capture the essence of the Mark 2b very well indeed.
Delivery is slated for Q3 2022. However, with the current global difficulties in production and shipping following the COVID19 pandemic and Suez issues (shipping companies estimating FOUR YEARS until sea traffic returns to normal!) this may extend to Q4 2022. Due to these difficulties, factory slots are in high demand so these packs will be made in strictly limited quantities. With the scarcity and popularity of Northern Ireland locomotives these are sure to be a popular and perfect companion while also adding a splash of colour and interest to your layout.
Browse the range and place your pre-orders direct by clicking here.