I some times revisit products that I do not normally use. I do this in order to keep up to date and occasionally I find welcoming changes to products that I previously ruled out because of some design flaw or feature that I did not like. When revisiting the PIKO A-Track I noticed that the design of (at least) the turnouts have changed - and for the better.
PIKO A-track. The PIKO A-Track is the track system marketed by PIKO as a track that allows for both casual play and serious model railway construction. "Geometry & realism" is the slogan. Track code is 100. You can check out the track at the PIKO store.
I have always turned to Roco's Roco Line or the Tillig Elite track system for serious track work (an of course the Trix C-Track for play), but because of the ever increasing prices I have been keen on trying the cheaper PIKO A-Track. I have seen a fair share of layouts built using this track and it does look quite good. The price is about half the price of the Roco track. So far the quality has not been the same as the more expensive Roco Line track, but that might just be about to change.
It seems like PIKO have updated the quality of the A-Track turnouts. The tonges on the turnouts used to be metal pieces bent to the shape of a rail, but on newer tracks the tonges are actual rails and the hinges holding the rails in place have been improved as well. This gives a much sturdier and robust turnout.
Take a look a the pictures. The turnout on the top is the old type with the bent metal in shape of a rail. The one below is the new track. You can clearly see the change in both the rails and the hinges.
A friend and I tested the sturdiness of the track this is definitely a welcoming change! I might just consider using the PIKO A-Track for an upcoming project.
The Old Turnout
A close up of the hinges shows that the track is simply bent metal. The hinges are extra long metal pieces bent underneath the track to hold the tonges in place. This can cave in under a heavy locomotive causing a derailment. I believe this is one of the main reasons for the bad reputation that the PIKO A-Track has amongst some model railroaders.
The old hinge holding the tonges in place. The metal is simply bent into shape and holding the track in place.
The New Turnout
Look at this! A real hinge has now replaced the old bent metal. This along with a completely new tonge consisting of a real rail. Gone are the days of bent metal! This is a really welcome change and I bet it can help improve the reputation of the PIKO A-Track. It is now much sturdier and feels much better.
A real hinge is holding the track in place.
The PIKO A-Track range has a very simple geometry and a good selection of different turnouts. PIKO also manufactures rail joiners (55294) that allows you to connect the A-track to track of code 83 (Roco, Tillig etc.) and a wide range of accessories for the system.
I have reached out to PIKO for a comment on this change. The change in the A-track design has gone completely unnoticed in the media and the model railway community. I will update this post with their reply.
Update: I got the following reply from PIKO:
"Yes, we've improved the turnouts number 55220 and 55221. An upgrade of the articles 55222 / 55223 and 55227 / 55228 will follow. We have not yet decided if we will upgrade the last of the turnouts."
The articles 55222 and 55223 are the curved turnouts R2/R3. 55227 and 55228 are the curved turnouts R3/R4.