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Pendolino sound recording at Longsight Depot

The Revolution Trains – Rapido Class 390 Pendolino in N will be the first RTR mass-market model to be provided with a DCC Sound option.

This has proved popular with customers, and last night we were invited to Alstom’s Longsight traincare depot in Manchester – the home of Virgin’s Pendolino fleet – to record the sounds of the real thing.



Longsight handles 15 Pendolinos each night.  From 2208 the units begin to arrive in the depot and are first sent through the carriage washer and a laser scanner that can register anything from the thickness of the brake pads to the state of the pantograph’s carbon contact heads to check whether they need changing.  From there they are sent into one of 15 reception sidings for overnight work to begin.  An initial one hour exam is followed by a thorough clean.  On-train diagnostics will have communicated ahead with the depot control room and fitters will already know what, if any, specific repair work is required.


Inside the workshops longer term maintenance is underway – at the moment the fleet is undergoing a programme of 800,000 mile “H4” examinations which involve full bogie changes and replacement of the emergency couplers – so the entire nose assembly has to come off!

One of those undergoing its H4 exam was 390103 – the Poppy pendolino and one of the ten models we are offering.  With the trains in this conditions we were able to record some sounds not otherwise possible, though we had to be careful not to get in the way as the work is very tightly rostered.


Most of the recording was done outside; this is generally preferred by our sound recordist Legomanbiffo as there is no chance of any unwanted echoes, or the clang of a dropped spanner, that can mar the recording.  He tends to take at least 3-4 captures of any given sound to be sure of a good “take.”


Strict depot rules meant that the sounds of the horn had to be recorded before 2300 to avoid incurring the wrath of local residents.  Alstom likes to be a good neighbour!


Even though this was Manchester we got lucky with the weather – the only precipitation was from the water washers – just one of over 20 separate sounds we recorded.  Who knew a Pendolino made so many different sounds?


Huge thanks to Dave Jones and everyone at Alstom Longsight depot for helping us to ensure our N Gauge Pendolino with DCC Sound will have the best quality and most accurate sounds possible.