The Design of Small Model Railways

Hakone Tozan Railway - revisited

[150×100 cm²]
Purple coloured pieces of track are fitted with rack-rail.
 Bottom Station
 Top Station
 Reversing Station
 Engine Shed
 Alpine meadow

You have probably never heard of the Hakone Tozan Railway, but this is a mountain railway in Japan. The Hakone Tozan Railway is an adhesion railway. It has a characteristic Reversing Station in order to gain altitude. A publication on the Micro Layouts internet site of Carl Arendt showed the fantastic miniature railways of the Diorama Display Factory. One of the layouts of the Diorama Display Factory is a model of the Hakone Tozan Railway. And in spite of the small surface of this design, the builders have nevertheless succeeded to model the most important characteristics of the railway, as far as I have been able to determine.

This design does not try recreate the Hakone Tozan Railway, but has been inspired by the track plan. The design consists of a main line to which mountain railway is connected. In this case a rack-railway. The train climbs to the reversing station. The train reverses and the top station is reached. I’ve used the rack-railway from Fleischmann. The original normal-gauged electric locomotive (article number 4306) didn’t have the level of detail we expect today. Now you can buy an improved version with article number 481103. This locomotive remains a nice model.

Fleischmann rack-railway

The main line 1 consists of a simple oval. A rail car or a locomotive with two carriages is all that can run around. The way of operating the main line is simple. By stopping the train in the tunnel for a while, the train can be operated according to some sort of timetable. Connections to the mountain railway line should be guaranteed, of course.

The timetable of the mountain railway is also quite simple. The locomotive pushes the carriages from the bottom station, from track 2, to the revering station and then pulls the train the small distance to the top station. This last piece of the line is less steep than the first part. You can add extra ways of running the train by adding additional carriages in the morning for the extra passengers from track 2ª to the mountain top. Goods cars can supply the top station with food, drinks et cetera. When the track needs maintenance, you’ll need to run a maintenance train.

The design is not very complicated and, in my opinion, fairly easy to build. Because the surface of the design is small (1½ ), the mountain slopes will be steep, in order to suggest height. This implies many rocky surfaces and retaining walls, what is in itself a challenge to build.

The design allows that the layout can be viewed from all sides. On the “North side” of the design I’ve added a “Lehnenviadukt”. This is a viaduct parallel to the mountain slope. On this viaduct also the rack starts. Because this point is visible, you can watch this critical part of the track. But if you want put the layout against the wall, this is of course also possible. In that case, the “Lehnenviadukt” must replaced by a tunnel.

 This photo from 1993 of the Hakone Tozan Railway shows the start of the 80‰ incline.

The scene which looked at the train of Hakone Tozan Railway which reaches the steep slope of 8%

 The drawing below show the pieces of track you’ll need. The Fleischmann article numbers are depicted in blue. Heights have been indicated in red (in millimeters), as calculated by my computer. The track plan is not difficult because only standard pieces are required. The pieces of track indicated with a thick line are those with a centre rack-rail (article number 6412).

12×Fl-6101  Rechte 1/1
10×Fl-6102  Rechte 105 mmFl-6103  Rechte 1/2
 6×Fl-6107  Rechte 10 mmFl-6110  Compensatierail 80-120 mmFl-6116  Stootblok
14×Fl-6120  Bocht R1 - 36°
 6×Fl-6122  Bocht R1 - 18°
 4×Fl-6125  Bocht R2 - 36°
 1×Fl-6127  Bocht R2 - 18°
 1×Fl-6166  Elec. Eng. wissel links
 1×Fl-6172  Elec. wissel links
 3×Fl-6173  Elec. wissel rechts
 1×Fl-6176  Elec. geb. wissel links
 1×Fl-6177  Elec. geb. wissel rechts

Improvements to this design can be made, though, due to the limited size, the room for such improvements is limited. You can find some suggestions to adapt the plan to your personal wishes. Especially the main can be improved by adding a concealed station. You can make such stations as complex as you can build or manage.

  1. A carriage shed is still lacking, where the carriages can be stored overnight. Such a shed is pretty normal on mountain railways.
  2. It is not possible to have train movements with two trains simultaneously. If you want this you’ve to design the reversing station differently, in order to process two trains at the same time.
  3. The main line is a simple oval with the usual restrictions. Such as the fact that only one train can run at the same time. Here too I’ve simply copied the original Japanese plan. By adding concealed station more trains can run on the main line. How you will arrange the concealed station is up to yourself.
  4. You can add storage capacity to the concealed station by moving it one deck lower. When you re-design the bottom station as a terminus, you can spiral down to the concealed station. This station can be a fiddle yard, which can store more trains.
  5. The railway does not need have to be a rack-railway. The Japanese example is not. By starting the slope directly after the station sufficient height can be gained to cross the main line.

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