Locomotive Roster: SNCF X73900; Arnold HN2101

One of my most recent acquisitions has been this Arnold model of the SNCF X73900 diesel railcar in the scheme of the regional rail authority of the Alsace Lorraine region.
My video review covers a lot of of my thoughts on this locomotive, so I'll try and briefly make a few observations if videos are not your thing.    First things first...this is what would be called a 'railcar' (I slip and accidentally call it a "DMU" (Diesel Multiple Unit") in the video, which is obviously incorrect as there is no 'multiple!') which is essentially a self-powered diesel powered locomotive for transporting passengers.  Not common in the USA these days, the best example in history would be something like the old RDC ('rail diesel cars').   For the SNCF, these classes are called 'autorails'.   According to Wikipedia, this class was developed jointly with the DB and have been in operation since 2000.   I was initially unclear on the distinction from the identical X73500 and X73900 versions, and discovered that the X73900 (the version I have) is designed for cross border transport.
First off, the cost is pretty high....this unit cost me $209 USD (well, it was a birthday gift), which in my view is too much for a locomotive or a 'railcar' (the exception being more complicated steam locomotives, or 'big' complicated units like the crocodile, etc..).   I won't go so far as to say I still think its a good value, but it certainly is well done.  It goes without saying that you should expect the interior lights, reversing LED's and easy decoder install via NEM 651, all of which this railcar has.  So far so good.
The design is definitely modern and has sleek looks.  It does fine on my sharpest radius curves (282mm Radius Katos) but it definitely does not look very good doing so!

Where Arnold did a very nice job was in the decoration.   Obviously, we've come to expect crisp and sharp printing, but I am still a little amazed each time I get up real close and see to what can be achieved these days.   Very nice!
There are multiple versions from Arnold available (as well as even more alternatives from a small French  manufacturer called Mikado train).  My version is the livery of the local rail authority for the Alsace -Lorraine region - which is not only strikingly colorful, but is also the home of some nice memories from my visit to Mulhouse and the Cite du Train museum last year!
My one concern or annoyance...it seems slow!  With this sleek design I would have expected a bit of a 'racer' (although, not TGV speeds of course!) rather than what appears to be some rather slow gearing.  Nice for slow station stops, but not going to set any records!

All in all, a nice model!


  1. Thank you for the review.
    It's a very nice model. I've not yet any Arnold lok/train, but if I find something cheap, will give a try. It's a bit expensive compared the the Fleischmann Lint, but it looks good on your great layout! :D

  2. Hi Jerry, thanks for the review as usual!

    I am posting this comment on this old post of yours, because I happen to have bought the same model, and added sound to it.

    I am opening a blog of mine soon, more oriented on technical details, so it will in no way be a competitor for Quinntopia :-)
    For now, it is still "in construction", but I have already published the article (and the video) of the sound X73900: http://www.digitrainworld.com/?p=146

    I have been following your blog a while now, and you are definitely an expert by now ;-) Feel free to look at the X73900 post if you find it of interest. I would be happy to receive feedback on my project, before I "release" it and start spreading the word.


  3. Hello Pierre! Good to hear from you again! I envy you your sound decoder! I noticed a couple of months back that these were available! I may soon replace my standard decoder to do this as well!

    I'm looking forward to your blog! There is no such thing as 'competition', it is all good info and the more the better!

  4. Thanks for another great review. I will be purchasing this series of railcar soon. Have you found any info on the differences in regards to the Arnold/Horby version versus the Mikado France version with the Tomix chassis? I was wondering if the extra money for the Mikado is worth it?


  5. Hi Spiff!

    I only have the Arnold version, but I monitor the French N scale forum (thanks Google Translate) and from the comments there, I don't get a strong opinion that one is better than the other. I think Mikado trains has upgraded their chassis, but originally they used a Tomix chassis that was difficult to convert to DCC. The Arnold version is a very easy NEM 651 plug! Also, there is a sound version of the NEM 651 available (that I still might get!) that I've seen available at Trains 160 http://www.trains160.com/en/electronic/3505-arnold-x-73500-digital-sound-module.html

  6. Thanks for the info Jerry. I like sound also but not sure if I can justify the the 110 Euro difference (ouch).

    I'll probably get the Arnold version as it's abit cheaper than the Mikado version. Not sure if I'll get from Eurolok at $210USD or get it from Europe that is surprisingly $30USD cheaper.


    Does the Arnold version have two powered trucks?

  7. Yeah, one of the reasons I haven't 'upgraded' to the sound decoder is that $110 is still a decent chunk of change! By the way, I got mine from Eurolok (it was my first purchase from them) since they seem to be the only Arnold seller in North America! I think they do a nice job ---and shipping is a bit cheaper than from the continent!

  8. I ordered one from Eurolok also. Eagerly awaiting now. Thanks for the info