Although the bane of rail enthusiasts everywhere, there is no denying the impact the road coach has had on passenger train services since their initial onslaught in the 1980's. So much so, that at one point the State Rail Authority were ridiculed as being the State Road Authority as they replaced train after train on branch lines throughout the state with the term 'luxury air-conditioned road coach'. So retro-fitting my layout to double as a 1985 mirror image called for adding one beside the railway station at Philden. The question was, where do you find one?
|Ignore the simplistic plastic toy car under frame. You're not going to see it anyway.|
It turns out that the juggernaut behind the famous Top Gear franchise had released a series of OO scale 1:76 diecast models of Australian outline trucks and buses under the label TRUX back in 2007. The problem was, the brand is no more. That called for a search on eBay for a suitable Eighties era bus. Fortunately I found one at the right price. Among collectors these models can fetch as much as $150 Australian, even for something which on the underside resembles nothing more than a toy Matchbox car.
|Who can forget the long distance on-board toilet in the back corner of the bus?|
The detail on the rest of the model is surprisingly good, even down to the NSW number plates on each end of the model. The 1980 Australian-made Denning road coach is painted for Deluxe Coachlines. Anyone who remembers Deluxe Coachlines will know that at one stage they controlled 50% of the interstate road coach market in Australia, before a drop-off in customer demand following World Expo 88 in Brisbane caused the company to spectacularly implode and be placed in receivership by 1990. My Deluxe road coach has the destination Brisbane displayed above the windshield. At the rear, the model even has the correct blacked-out corner windows for the onboard toilet. My wife can attest to its accuracy after ending up sick on a trip from Brisbane to Melbourne as a teenager back in 1985. I told her she should have taken the train, but as she explained, the fares back then were so cheap. Which is probably what put pressure on the railways to begin with.
|The visible roof support poles in the centre aisle are the only thing that detracts from a fine model.|
Although the model is 1:76 OO scale, as a prop on my 1:87 HO scale layout it certainly doesn't look out of proportion. Compared to plastic or even diecast vehicles sold for use on model train sets, these models are heads and shoulders above the rest. The only detraction I could fault with this model was the visible roof support pillars inside the model in the centre aisle. Apart from that, it is actually a really nice model. Even for a bus.
|The destination name board and NSW yellow number plates are a nice touch.|
I suppose the question I have to ask, is why hasn't someone else entered the market manufacturing scale model road coaches since the departure of Top Gear's TRUX label? Perhaps this is something that Australian model railway manufacturers should consider at some point in the future. I could just picture a HO scale counterpart of a 1984 State Rail Denning motor coach, or the 1990's equivalent of a Countrylink or even V/Line road coach parked out front of a model railway station waiting to make a connection with an incoming train. I know I'd buy one.
Review Card: TRUX 1980 Denning Road Coach by Top Gear (no longer available).
Final Thoughts: A rare model of an Australian road coach that is surprisingly good. No, make that really good. If you can still find one that is.