The Atlantic Coast Express (ACE)


Commentators say that defining the make up of this premier Southern express passenger train is not easy. What can be said for sure is that in winter months it left Waterloo at 11a.m. for west country coastal resorts. The summer timetable saw two trains of the same name leaving Waterloo and more than two during peak periods to cope with increased passengers starting their holiday. The return journey left Exeter at 12.30pm. This variety in the timetable is what makes the train interesting for the modeller and coupled with variations in the train formation it is also a challenge to replicate.

The train formation was complicated because the west country terminus was not one place but at least 8! You see, the coaches, either individually or in sets, were detached at stations along the route for conveyance along branch lines to their final seaside destination. In its simplest form the train comprised a three coach set for Ilfracombe, (2 x BSKs and 1 x CK) a BCK for each of the other destinations and a Restaurant/Kitchen set. Depending on demand the destinations of each coach in a train and the number used would vary. Depending on which part of the main line we decide to model the train would exhibit a different formation. For example, the same train traveling east of Salisbury is a different formation to when it is west of Salisbury and different again west of Sidmouth Junction, and again west of Exeter and so on.

Because of this complexity I can't begin to explain the history in detail and what I have already stated may contain inaccuracies. At least two books have been written on the subject. On this page I set out some of my references and modeling techniques.


ace train

Merchant Navy class 35012 'United States Line' with the Up ACE exist Crewkerne Tunnel. The head code shows the route number 7, which was allocated to the Up Ace. The route code for the Down ACE was 6.


ace headcode

The ACE locomotive carried a nameboard and two headcode discs. The disc arrangement signified the train route. One above the other being the Waterloo-Exeter main line. The model disc construction is explained in my blog about the ACE. [link below].


ace restaurant coach

The ACE included a Bulleid designed Restaurant and Kitchen/Buffet set. Here is the Restaurant, a Comet Models kit. The build of these models is covered in my blog. [link below].


ace kitchen/buffet coach

The kitchen/buffet coach. Buffet area this end. This coach trailed the Restaurant coach.


ace plymouth coach

The end Bulleid coach of my 9 coach ACE is the Plymouth BCK [brake composite corridor]. The gangway is closed by two doors and a white BR tail lamp indicates the train is complete.


ace destination roof board

Each coach roof carried destination boards. One declaring the name of the train and a second displays the destination of the coach. However, in practice there seems to be variation in what was shown from nothing to just one board. Construction of the model board is covered in my blog about the ACE. [link below].


coach gangways

Modelled concertina gangways are very effective for bridging the gap between coaches and automatically adjust to track curvature.


<-- -->

Note: YouTube sets cookies. Enhanced privacy mode is enabled.