Sunday, August 28, 2011

Planning the railway

For me. planning a layout is just as interesting as building and operating it. As you can see from my personal history of railway modelling, I spend a fair amount of time in the planning phase. In the case of my garden railway, the planning stage lasted around five years.

When I first laid out the garden, thirty years ago, I had half a mind to including a garden railway. Around twenty years later, this dream was realised.

The first few plans I drew were based on the garden design as it then existed.

From the start, I appreciated the importance of planning the railway so it could be built in phases. Firstly, this would allow me to spread the cost of construction over a more prolonged period and secondly, I felt it would help to maintain my interest over the years.

In the meantime, I continued researching - viewing video material and reading magazine articles and browsing websites for ideas and inspiration (see Where did I get my ideas from). I came to realise that, to maximise the potential of the garden and gain the most from the model, it would be better to redesign the garden. One particular video of a railway had the greatest impact on my thinking - it was Railways in the Garden vol 3 by Tony Morris. The video featured a railway which was built around the perimeter of a garden on raised beds constructed from several tons of rock. In the centre was a sunken lawn. I had already accumulated a good quantity of local red sandstone - some from a rockery which my parents removed from their garden, some which I had dug up from my own garden when landscaping it, and some bought by answering adverts in the local free paper. Metaphorical seeds were sown!

I decided to start from scratch and landscape the garden around the railway, rather than vice versa. I would lower the lawn to create some raised beds around its perimeter. Various ideas were considered:

Eventually, I homed in on a configuration which I felt would make the most of the available space ......

..... and so experimented with various ideas to make the most use of the space.

I toyed with the idea of basing the railway on a real prototype, in this case one of my favourite railways, the Southwold.

Ultimately, I decided on a less complex design which would allow me to build the railway in phases.

 Here's how the railway looks now

Initially, I had no particular prototype location in mind for my railway. However, after a stroll in the local countryside one weekend, I came up with the idea of setting my railway in the hills not far from where I live (see The line gains an identity and The route of the hypothetical line). After all, the red sandstone landscape was very much in keeping with the piles of rock in the garden!

To gain some idea of the growth of the railway over the years, this animation summarises the phases completed so far:


The railway has now been in place for around six years and is becoming bedded into the garden landscape. The present layout allows for a range of approaches to its operation. I can run trains end to end; I can set trains to tail chase around the main circuit or I can run out and back from either terminus. This animated plan with an on-board trip along the line from one end to the other shows how trains run from end to end:

Animated plan with on-board trip along the line

What I enjoy most is freight handling. I find a train of mixed goods far more interesting to watch and operate than passenger trains (see No 1 takes the pickup goods, A typical operating session and/or Computerised freight management).

For now, further development of the railway have stopped while I accumulate or anglicise more goods stock. However, those raised vegetable beds which my wife requested are quite strategically placed ........................


Anonymous said...

Just found this site and I must say thank you thank you 1000 times thank you. :)

I'm learning so much...

One question I have for ya...nHow much track are you using on your labor of love?

GE Rik said...

I'm glad you've found the blog interesting and useful. I'm not sure how much track I've used so far. I tended to buy it as and when I needed it. I tended to buy the longest lengths I could (6ft (LGB) or 8ft (Aristo) to keep the number of joints to a minimum. I'd guess there's around 320ft of track overall.