RW25T Class Soft Sleeper Car
The T type passenger cars are the latest in the series of 25 series of passenger cars, utilizing more modern materials in their construction and rated for higher speeds that their T and K predecessors. They are deisgned to run continuously for up to 20 hours at 160kph. Of the 25T series there are a number of deriatives, sometimes with obvious differences but not always. This review concerns three types;
1. RW25T BSP - a car joint manufactured by Bombardier-Sifang (hence the abbreviation, Bombardier-Sifang-Power)
2. RW25T Domestic Type - Standard Chinese built 25T
3. RW25T Plateau type - another Chinese built type designed to work high altitudes for the Qinghai - Tibet Line.
The RW25T's can be found in two liveries, blue and white or green and yellow. Initially, the former was found exclusively on Tibet trains which work as far as Chengdu, Chongqing, Beijing & Shanghai, however a recent repainting program since 2015 is seeing many of the white & blue versions joining the army of green & yellow. They share the same dimensions as the domestic type, but have more associated equipment to work in high altitudes.
There are many spotting differences between the RW25T and RW25T BSP, but the major ones are as follows;
• BSP version has a corrugated or ribbed roof
• BSP version air conditioners sit flush with the roof line
• BSP version lacks the side skirting of the domestic built cars
• Both version use a different type of air cushioned bogie
Bachmann have released all three versions of RW25T and all are included in the same review to make it easier for me to write up and you to compare the versions.
Bachmann have used completely seperate tooling for each version, which is very welcome and warranted given how significantly different each type is and all versions have separate production numbers to indicate this. They were all released in a realtively short time period which created a glut of soft sleeper cars on the market for a number of years. Only one production run of each have been made to date.
The BSP version of the RW25T was the first of the three to be released. It had its own separate tooling, like all of the RW25T model variants. This ensures that the proportions and details are as close as possible, unlike Bachmann's double decker cars which were simply repainted to suit a number of different models.
Construction method is similar to most of Bachmann's other coaches, a one piece shell with a roof and chassis that clip on. The roof sits inside the body shell at the ends, which improves the looks and eliminates any gaps or seams where the two would meet up. The interior is a single cast piece in a beige color.
Two years on, Bachmann came up with the standard version of the RW25T. It had its own separate tooling, like all of the RW25T model variants. This ensures that the proportions and details are as close as possible, unlike Bachmann's double deck cars which were simply repainted to suit a number of different models. Construction method is the same as the BSP version.
This was the third and so far final version of the RW25T's from Bachmann. The final four product numbers were the ones included in the Tibet NJ2 sets, CP00914 & 916 for the green set and CP00918 & 920 for the white set (each set comprised of three locomotives & two passenger cars). To the best of my knowledge they were not offered separately, however I look forward to hearing from someone who can confirm this either way. All the Tibet RW25T's are in a green & yellow livery.
All RW25T's were available separately and came in a thin cardboard box with a display window. The model was secured by a foldable plastic clam shell and included an instruction sheet, warranty information pamphlet and a QC label.
Some of the Tibet versions (CP00914, 916, 918 & 920) were included in a special set containing three NJ2 locomotives and a pair of these RW25T coaches. The packaging on these particualr sets was woeful and more can be read about these in the NJ2 class diesel locomotive review.
The paint is overall quite good. The roof and the red line that runs along the bottom is nice and sharp as is the lettering. The blue paint around the mid section of the car is too glossy in my opinion, and although the white is also glossy, the two don't seem to sit well together. The edge of the blue paint is also slightly fuzzy in places when looked at closely.
The large windows sit flush with the body shell but appear to be thick when the light hits it. The bathroom windows are not cloudy, but for the rivet counters, this isn't too hard to achieve with some very fine tissue paper. Undercarriage detail is very nice and shown off better than the other two RW25T variants as the body lacks the side skirting. Like most of the car, the undercarriage is however in a glossy grey paint. The interior contains 36 beds, spread over 9 compartments. The doors into these compartments are all in the shut position.
The bogies appear to be a little on the bare side as far as detailing is concerned. They appear to be unpainted plastic castings in a grey color. Axles are fitted with steel disc brakes. The electrical plugs on the end and associated lettering is superb, however the footsteps on the car ends are cast into the body rather than the nicer separate steel wire type on the Tibet version. Handrails however are steel wire. The roof looks fantastic, especially with the longitudinal ribbing and despite the air conditioners sitting flush with the rest of the roof, the detailing is actually quite good, especially considering the vintage of these models.
The biggest problem with the BSP version - the paint work - has thankfully improved for these models. Bachmann wisely changed the glossy paint to a more matte type. The color is almost the same, however the blue color is a shade or two nicer. it is much more evenly applied and the fuzzy edges are now all but gone. Lettering is superb, as usual.
The interior is much the same as the BSP version, however the color is more of a cream color and as a result, a lot of the detail isn't as obvious. Toilet windows have been given the cloudy effect and look pretty good. On the exterior side of things, Bachmann's RW25T's have chosen to go with the electrical plug doors rather than standard swing doors. The end details look superb, and a very cool feature are the electric couplers above the corridors. The corridors themselves are also an improvement over the BSP's. I find the air conditioners to be less detailed than the BSP's, even though they are exposed, which is a slight disappointment.
The undercarriage, although mostly hidden, is actually very good. Plumbing and braking components are all present and correct. Bogie detailing has been improved tremendously on these cars, although they still appear to be unpainted plastic castings. Like the BSP versions, the axles have steel disc brakes fitted.
Bachmann clearly spent a lot of time with these carriages as they were an addition to the new Tibet range, which came at the time the real Tibet railway was inaugurated. Many of the Tibet range were given to China Rail executives as gifts and some of the Tibet sets were even sold on the real train in its opening weeks of operation. Some of the detail improvements have worked very well, others not so.
Paint is generally superb. Lettering and lining is very crisp and the colors are rich. The main body color looks good, however I can see a slight shade of brown in the green (not evident in the photos). I can detect in the broader yellow line however that the paint tends to thin out in the center. The undercarriage is black, and while very beautifully done, the color tends to hide a lot of it (although when running on a layout, most is hidden anyway thanks to the side skirts). There is quite a bit more detail on these as compared to the other versions, which is most likely related to high altitude operating equipment.
The interior is as per the other two RW25T's, but the color is slightly darker making the detail stand out slightly better. The car end details are seriously good looking with a huge amount of lettering, plumbing and electrical componentry which is a sheer delight to behold. The blue doors provide a very beautiful contrast to the green and gold and it's really a shame that they're hidden when operating with other cars. Corridor detailing is nice with separate wire guide rails. Air conditioners are vastly improved over the standard RW25T with plenty of 3d detailing as well as separate wire anchoring points and painted on detail.
The windows sit flush with the body and are glued to the inside of the body shell. The window surrounds have been chrome plated like the prototype, however I find on the model they're a bit overwhelming.
They are perfectly weighted and seem to roll forever.
RW25T & RW25 Tibet
The lighted version is more roll-resistant to the unlit version due to the wheel brush electrical pickup system, however the effect is minimal. Those who operate more than 10 cars may see a noticeable difference. They do sport the typical deep flanges on the wheels, however they will go through code 83 track work (and possibly 75) with no problems. Cars are significantly heavier than other cars.
No interior lighting version of these cars exist.
Untested. I don't own any version with factory interior lighting.
The lit version RW25T's are fitted with a circuit board hidden in the ceiling with a series of small LED's. The lights emit a very rich orange color, quite different to the 25T cars I've ridden on with the typical white/blue fluorescent lighting installed.
Bachmann EZ-mates are fitted to the models which should be replaced at the earliest opportunity if you don't like huge air gaps between cars. Bachmann have included their usual semi-permanent drawbars which bring the gaps closer together, yet are a pain to attach and detach. While I usually advocate the use of KD couplers, on my passenger fleet, I prefer a Kadee coupler at each end of a rake of cars (type 362 NEM) and Fleischmann 6515's throughout the rest of the train. The Fleishmann couplers offer a superb connection and provide flawless operation between the cars around corners. They are also well built and designed and very easy to couple/uncouple. I find the Kadee's don't work as well with certain types of passenger cars which can prove troublesome when blending different types of passenger cars. Note, all of the photos above show the carriages fitted with Fleischmann 6515 couplers.