As 2022 draws to an end, and we look ahead to 2023, there is time to take stock of the year and reflect on the ups and downs.
The Revolution grows…
January saw a new face join the Revolution as Mike Buick became a full-time member of the team alongside founders Mike and Ben. Paul and Gareth have also continued to be an enormous help both at exhibitions and with their expertise in model railway electronics and in knowledge about the real thing!
The train now arriving… is delayed.
New models delivered in 2022 included the hotly-awaited Class 320 and Class 321 multiple units in N (and much requested in 00), IWA ‘Sfins2’ vans and ‘Rfnoos’ timber carriers in 00 and N, JNA ‘Ealnos’ box wagons in N, IPA car carriers in 00 and FWA Ecofrets in 00 and N.
But ongoing difficulties in China with the lingering effects of the Covid pandemic and power issues caused significant delays and some (though not all) of these projects arrived later than we’d expected when we began development.
But it’s not all doom and gloom – just after Christmas, we received final production samples of the N gauge Drax biomass hoppers that are exclusively available from Rails of Sheffield. Subject to final checks these models will be shipped early in the New Year and should be here by the end of February.
So near and yet, not…
Unfortunately some models that we had expected to arrive this year – the N gauge Mk5 coaches, second run Class 390 ‘Pendolinos’ and PFA 4-wheel container flats plus 00 gauge TUA chemical tankers (for Rainbow Railways) and 975025 ‘Caroline’ saloon have failed to materialise.
Delays are obviously as frustrating for us as they are for you but the reality is that there is little we can do.
So what has been happening? We thought it might be helpful to give a little more depth to the standard ‘blame it on Covid’ line.
The Chinese zero-Covid policy meant that often industrial zones were closed with almost no notice if a case was identified in the area.
Factories could be told to shut immediately, and not permitted reopen for weeks or more. Lockdowns have been sudden, extensive and vigorously enforced.
Strict travel and quarantine regulations curtailed travel between areas for designers and engineers.
Restarting a complex production line after a sudden enforced shutdown is not trivial and in addition power outages exacerbated these problems. Factories in some areas were only allowed power for, say, two days a week – and those days were not necessarily consecutive! This made time critical operations such as painting and printing very difficult.
Even now, with regulations relaxed, as the Chinese New Year break approaches many factories are closing early and their owners are struggling to recruit amid concerns that rural workers who normally travel in their millions to the cities to boost their earnings may prefer to remain at home and work in lower paid agricultural jobs.
While everyone is doing their very best to return to pre-Covid levels of efficiency we anticipate that production will continue to take longer than normal for at least the next 8-12 months.
As ever, if there is a particular project you’re ‘wondering what the latest is on’ or ‘looking for an update on’ then please check our Projects page. There is a comprehensive table reporting progress on all products we have on the go and we are diligent about keeping it updated. We don’t hold back; if there’s no news there then there’s no news at all!
To blurt or not to blurt?
This in turn led to some headscratching and a slow down on some of our planned announcements, as we are acutely aware of the simple equation:
New Announcements + Lack of Delivery = Eye Rolling and Exasperated Sighs
For this reason we have tended to time our announcements in 2022 to coincide with the arrival of corresponding models; for example once the Class 320/321 units arrived we offered the Class 175/180 family, and with IWA vans and timber carriers here we were able to announce our FNA-D nuclear flask wagons.
However, the good news is that while production of finished models has been slower than we would have liked, the development phase of newer models has become, if anything, faster.
Our FNA-D nuclear flask wagon and PCA alumina tank wagons went from announcement to sampling in a matter of months, and the FNA-Ds are expected to arrive early in 2023, with the PCAs likely in the summer. Similarly, other previously announced models have shown good progress and one stalled product – the 1938 tube stock – is now back on track (sorry!) after a research visit was finally made to the London Transport Museum depot at Acton once Covid restrictions there ended.
The eagle-eyed may spot the KSA mouldings and Cartic-4 CAD in 00 and these will be the subject of more detailed updates in the next week or so.
Revolution on the road
During the year we have managed research trips to locations including Fort William, Kingmoor, the Vale of Rheidol, Acton, Whatley Quarry and Merehead, Eastleigh, Germany and Romania.
In partnership with a variety of friends in the rail industry these research trips, and others that are currently confidential, have enabled us to continue developing new models this year and have more exciting products to launch in 2023.
The Revolution will be… televised?
We’ve also started recorded videos to explain more about some of our most recent projects – you can find them on our You Tube Channel or watch them below. There’ll be more to come in 2023.
It’s all fun and games until someone gets 3D scanned…
In March members of the Revolution Team were 3D scanned by Modelu with frankly terrifying results… and Ben made it into print with a monthly column in Model Rail magazine giving his take on aspects of the hobby which is continuing into 2023.
Finally – if you’ve made it this far – Revolution would like to wish everyone a very Happy and Prosperous 2023.
We have plenty of exciting plans and we look forward, with all our customers, to continuing to grow and enjoy this wonderful hobby.