The Design of Small Model Railways

A mountain railway

Mountain Railway [200×40 cm²]
 Top station
 Bottom station
 Carriage shed

This plan is also a bookshelf layout. It’s inspired on the Vitznau-Rigi Bahn (VRB, now merged with the ARB to form the Rigi-Bahnen) at the shores of Lake Lucerne in Switzerland [Staffelbach, Hans: Vitznau-Rigi - Erste Bergbahn Europas]. Contrary what I’ve tried to tell you with the other plans, this layout does not offer lots of operational value. But it brings back the memories of sunny mountain holidays which are so dear for one from the low countries. It’s not a literal translation of the VRB prototype. Because of the space limitations I had to re-arrange the elements of this railway. But I’ve managed to squeeze in some lake shore!

The plan depicts only the bottom and top station and no in-between track. Both stations are situated on 100×40 cm² modules, making it more easy to transport. The connection between both modules is hidden under a gallery/tunnel and under an overpass. The scenic division between both modules is also necessary to make the geographical distance between both terminuses believable. You can also expand the layout by adding extra modules between these two. Another trick I’ve used is the extension of the tracks in the carriage shed (at point  ) into the other module. These tracks are covered by a hillside and not visible, but they offer much desired extra storage space for your rolling stock.

Contrary to its prototype I’ve designed it as a narrow gauge rack railway. I’ve used the Fleischmannmm N-track system to model 800 mm gauge in H0-scale. All visible tracks are flexible tracks with the rack rail. These type of railway has continuos racks because the wheels of the vehicles are not driven. Because it’s difficult to make switches with continuos rack I’ve hidden all switches. Like at the VRB station of Vitznau I’ve employed a turntable with rack rail to access the carriage shed. This implies a modification of the Fleischmann manual turntable. You can also be prototypical and use the Fleischmann Profi track with 16½ mm gauge to model a normal gauge rack railway. I’ve chosen for the Fleischmann rack railway system because it’s reliable and widely available.

Rolling stock

You’ll find no ready-made rolling stock available for a narrow gauge H0-railway using Fleischmann N-track. You’ll have to build your own. When I would build this layout I would make some Rowan sets to transport my passengers, though they never were used at the VRB. Rowan trains consist of a small electrical locomotive with a passenger carriage attached to it. They were in use at the Jungfraubahn (JB) in Switzerland.

You can use the existing Fleischmann N-scale rack railway locomotive (article no. 7305) as undercarriage for your locomotive. I’ve added my sketch of a Rowan train below. Most Rowan trains ware made of wood, so why don’t use this material in model?

Rowan train

If you don’t fancy Rowan trains, you can use a more conventional approach. Convert the Fleischmann engine into a small box-like locomotive, pushing cars up the mountain. Just like the little trains of the Schynige Platte Bahn near Interlaken in Switzerland.

Great Britain

Of course, you don’t have to choose an example from Switzerland or another Alpine country. You can find a great rack railway in Great Britain. The “Snowdon Mountain Railway (Welsh: Rheilffordd yr Wyddfa)” has run the same name mountain since 1896. It’s fun to walk up the mountain on the footpath parallel to the railway. Along the way you’ll have good views on the (steam) trains.

A diesel train will reach the mountain station on the top of Snowdon soon. Picture taken on July 21, 2013.

Snowdon Mountian Railway

Ted Polet has taken the “Snaefell Mountain Tramway” on Isle of Man as an inspiration for his “Creag Dhubh Mountain Tramway”. The Creag Dhubh is a true mountain in Scotland. But in model, Ted has laid a mountain railway to the top. The model is in scale 1:76 on 9mm track (OO9). Seen on September 23, 2017, at the narrow gauge model railway event at the Stoomtrein Leiden Katwijk.

Creag Dhubh Summit

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