Having succumbed to the temptation of a new Pendelino from Revolution and with their imminent arrival I started to think about a layout to run them on. I already had some class 350's in LMS green and grey livery so the layout would need to be both WCML or other Pendelino route and somewhere the 350's frequented.
I already have a modern layout (Crawley Yard) http://grcrailways.co.uk/crawley-yard/ so already have a fleet of 66's and a range of mineral wagons so could I reuse these? The Crawley Yard layout is modular and fits into the WSNG system but the new layout would need to be different. It would need to be longer but for exhibitions it needs to have something to watch beyond the trains running round. Could I include some kind of industry or a station or both.
Whilst I'm not actually sure how long a 11 Car Pendelino is going to be I can estimate each coach at around 7 Inches and the power cars around 5 for a total around 84 Inches 7 Feet or 2.1M. An 8 foot layout wasn’t going to cut it and a station would need to be massive if trains were going to stop. The layout needs to fit in the car so I think if I kept the height down I could get 4 boards In the car - around 16 Feet of layout and with loops at each end that’s 12 foot scenic, reducing the pendelino down to 8 or 9 cars would be 6 feet so at least a space at each end
So that’s my basic criteria defined, I'm going to use the same Gaugemaster Prodigy set up and JMRI as the current layouts but maybe with two operator positions similar to layouts such as Banbury
- WCML with Catenary - Running full length Pendelinos
- Exhibition focused - Main Line Running
- Need a feature beyond the mainline - Potenitally containers or aggregates
- Independent fiddle yards to allow fast flow of trains onto scenic section
- DCC Control, JMRI Route setting on Laptop PC's (one each end)
One of the great things about building modern based layouts is Google Earth, Having looked at the Pendelino routes and starting in London I started to work northwards looking for potential locations. Watford was interesting but far too complicated. Just north of Northampton I came across the Dirft Railport and the genesis of the layout was conceived. Not aggregates but containers and not just a couple but hundreds. Would it all fit ?
Travelling north from Euston I started looking for potential locations, It couldnt be to big or complicated. There were a couple of potential locations around Watford with what appeard to aggregate yards which would support resue of the Crawley Yard stock but nothing inspiring. I followed the track north using Google earth and managed to lose the line a couple of times as It made some interesting direction changes across the map. Eventually just north of Northampton I came across DIRFT and realised I had found almost exactly what I was looking for.
- Double track main line under catenary
- Limited but very long set of exchange sidings running parallell with the main line
- Connected to the main line but with the run on to Dirft and back up the headshunt long enough to run as a third line on a layout
- Relatively contained railport using vehicles for unloading with lots of containers to model
The only challenge is that its a secondary line between Northampton and Rugby and so some of the stock and definitley the Pendelinos are less than frequent visitors but as the main line is shurt when this is operating we are in the bounds of normal operations
Layout Design Version 1
Drawn using the Anyrail software this drawing represents version 1. It retains the key track elements of the location and has a nice sweeping curve to show off the Pendelinos as they swing around, Three exchange sidings and four roads in the Raiport. The green ends would be non scenic with the intention that the operators PC screen could sit on them for controlling their trains and fiddleyards. The Fiddle yards are split in two giving a longest length of around 1.5M. The intent here is that each main line operator would have control of their own yard and that these could operate on separate cicruits and indepentantly
It has a number of challenges though
- The length and width are compressed down,
- The length of the Exchange sidings at around 1.5M may be to short
- The container port roads are around 1.2 M
- The depth of the container port would make it very narrow
- The Headshunt is just over 1m Long
On to version 2
- Extend by adding an additional board at the Southern End (Right) to extend the headshunt
- bring the Headshunt round the front as a 4th line
- Smooth out the curve a little to create more room for the container port