It's something that fans don't really talk about; more than likely because they don't really care. But I, for one, do. And that's why this blog post exists. So, let's talk about Sodor's express coaches (and, by extension, Spencer's, Connor's and Caitlin's).
I'm not sure how many fans will agree, or even care, but I really don't like the designs for pretty much any of the bogie coaches seen in the CG era.
Now I know that the express coaches have been around since the Nitrogen era, but I didn't really care too much as the show was going through a rough enough time as it was. Plus, considering they didn't care too much about proper railway operations too much, we never really saw what else they could produce when it came to coaches (except the narrow gauge ones, and they have the same problem). But now though, the problem has pretty much become really distracting thanks to these:
Yep, Arc's fantastic renders of the slip coaches made me realise that the other bogie coaches just don't look right. They look too tall and thin, and the design is the exact same thing on both sides. They just look really stupid for the coaches they're based on, and I'm rather hoping they are replaced sometime in the future. Will they? I don't know, but one can hope. But the big question is which designs would I wish to see?
Let's begin with series 1. While yes, these coaches are a similar size to the ones currently used, these ones present a bit more... class, in my opinion. Glossy, stylish and, possibly, exquisite to ride in, these coaches may be the first port of call. It might not be beyond the realms of possibility either; the series 1 brake vans are pretty common in the series these days.
While these aren't as glossy as the ones previously, they do get the length bang on. That being said, they're not particularly realistic; there's no braking gear under the chassis. But it's still a really good design and one that could be worth considering.
While I'm on the subject, does anyone miss the red bogie coaches? I didn't really get why Nitrogen didn't make them; it would have been easy enough. They could still have the green coaches for Gordon's express, but bring the red ones in for the fast trains or normal main line passenger trains while keeping the 4 wheel red ones on the branch lines.
Nothing really changed with the green coaches, apart from the added braking gear, so I'd prefer them looking like these ones; the perfect balance of practicality and realism.
Yep, this is a series 3 shot, and these are the red versions of the coaches used now. In all honesty, I have absolutely no qualms with them sticking to this design, but they would really need to make them a bit fatter and shorter, like they were from series 3 to series 12. Oh yeah, and include red variations, too.
But what if they didn't want to stick with the designs from the series? Well, why not make some BR Mk 1s? A classic British design that, I believe, Arc could replicate brilliantly. Why would I not have belief; they created slip coaches beautifully. As for livery? While I don't really mind the normal brown livery (they stuck to a Great Western livery for the slips and Nitrogen used the Talyllyn livery for the narrow gauge coaches), but maybe a Railway Series inspired brown would be pretty good too? Then you could keep the other bogie coaches for the fast trains (with a design tweak).
As for Spencer's coach... what the heck happened? Not only do they have the exact same problems as the express coaches, but they completely changed the design from the model coach! Actually, that's not fair; the design is really good; possibly better than the model. But they just don't suit the shape of the coach. So how to fix it?
Well, there are two ways. The first is to emulate the original coach's design, which was fantastic. It's simple, but it just has that posh look. And I like that an extra coach was added in series 10, even though it was a bit illogical to have two (unless the composite was a dining car).
The second? Simple. The writers have been pushing the idea that Spencer pulls Pullman coaches, so design a proper Pullman. Seriously, the Pullman design is there already, all they need to do is build one and just copy the design over. That way, it'd feel much more authentic.
And for anyone wondering, I'd probably have the same design suggestions for Connor and Caitlin's coaches, although I'd probably lean more to the VIP coach (series 5-11) designs for them. That said, considering the Pullman inspired design, they'd be pretty good too.
And Now for Something Completely Different
Am I the only one who misses these? I know they were designed to be really old, but that's what made them classy, and it's rather saddening that they were only used for one series. Maybe they could be put to use on Edward's branch as a heritage train or something? Or maybe just use them on his line for normal passenger traffic? A lot of thought went into making these as classy as possible, and it's a crying shame they were only used a few times in one series...