The Design of Small Model Railways

Half a station

Half a station [300×50 cm²]
 Station building
 Locomotive shed
 Road bridge
 Traversing “Fiddle Yard”

Portraying a big city station has always beem difficult. The size of the yards is so large that it can actually only be realised at exhibition layouts. Or in very large attics. But certainly not on small or medium sized layouts. My trackplan designer colleagues have therefore devised a trick. Like Gernot Balcke with his design called “Anlage Lohbrügge” [Balcke, Gernot: em Modellbahn BauPraxis – Ideen - Konzepte - Gleispläne]. Why not just depict only half a station. When the platform tracks are covered by a station canopy, the tracks can bend away sharply under the canopy, while they seem to go on straight.

But for really small layouts, even small stations are a problem. These can be quite extended. Usually you would need about three meters to imitate a reasonable station. When you want platform tracks of a reasonable length, that is. And three meters can be a lot. So I thought, when I split the station in two and only depict one side, the station fits perhaps in two meters length.

More than thirty years ago I developed this idea. The aim was to design a modular layout, that could be operated independently. That can be imitated a train holding at these modules, without the modules are part of a larger layout. The concept has never been realised, but this design has originated from this pursuit.

The station in this design is a terminal. Many terminals on branch lines look the same as through stations. Because the engines need to run around. The locomotives need to be shunted from one end of the train to the other end of the train. (For railcars-only operations, such as in the Netherlands, run around tracks are not required and end stations consists only of one or more end spurs.) In my case, I have imagined a story that the the station has never been built as a terminus. The remaining railway line after this station has been truncated or has never been laid.

The station  consist of three station tracks. An engine shed  and two sidings at a factory  offer the much needed shunting movements. Perhaps the presence of the factory is the reason why this station is still in service. That this station is designed as a through station is also apparent from the position of the road overpass . In a “real” terminus, one would never build an expensive bridge at that spot, but the road would have been detoured. Fortunately, the bridge blocks the sight to the other half of the station. That’s what is intended, because the other half consists of only a “fiddle yard”: the shadow station.

The track system is Peco 00/H0. Streamline Code 100 or Finescale Code 75, whatever you like. No article numbers here, because this system contains only switches and flex rails. You’ve to have some sense of geometry to work with this track system.

Astute readers will have obeserved that I’ve drawed catenary portals. The design was originally intended as a Swiss layout. Allmost all lines have overhead wires. Switzerland still has quite a lot of freight traffic by rail, even to smaller stations. And there are still a lot of branch lines in operation. An ideal example for model railways.

Half a station in perspective

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