Track Plan At A Glance
Layout Theme: Railroad Yard
Layout Type: Permanent Layout
Scale: HO Scale
Track: Code 83
Turnouts: No. 6
Min. Radius: 36"
Article by: Jim Spavins
Posted: November 29, 2016
Published: March 7, 2014
As discussed in many of case studies presented on the website, there are a variety of ways to view on a prototype railroad to develop a design for a model railroad. The Boston and Albany line through western Massachusetts was discussed previously but with an eye towards trying to model the traffic movement over the Berkshires. The output of that design offered a railroad with lots of mountain scenery and plenty of mainline trains. However, what if your preference is for lots of switching and preparing trains for the run over the mountain? In this case, a different approach would be to focus the view of the prototype line on the essence of a railroad yard - in this case West Springfield yard on the eastern side of the Berkshire crossing.
To design a layout around this theme, the essential features of this railroad should be:
- Main yard
- Maintenance trackage and facilities
- Staging yard
As can be seen at the beginning of the article, the layout's design uses the space to build a slightly compressed model of the prototype West Springfield yard - the real yard is a little over a mile long - or 60 feet in HO scale. Some tracks have also been eliminated but enough are left to provide the essence of the operations of the yard. The mainline connecting either end of the yard curls around behind the main yard to a staging yard. There is enough capacity here to handle a reasonable operating session but if more traffic was needed, there is space for a person to work full time in the staging yard manually removing and adding cars to the layout. In addition to the main yard, a few of the industries which abut the yard have also been included as these are generally serviced as part of normal operations.
Presenting the Railroad
The layout should be finished so as to make operations for the crew easy. In this case, lots of light to read the paperwork and maybe some strategically placed shelves to handle these items. There is also space left in the design for a comfortable crew lounge to be added along with a dispatch console. The aisles are a minimum of three feet with wider areas by some of the pinch points in the yard by the two ladders.
Operating the Railroad
The typical operating session would need a crew of 4 to 5 people to keep traffic moving on the layout. One person would serve as dispatcher and another as yardmaster. Another person would stay busy switching cars in the yard and the remaining crew members would spend time operating trains in and out of the staging yard from the West Springfield yard. The schedule of traffic would need to be determined based on the era modeled as the line has seen fluctuations of traffic through the years. Given the size of the yard and the length of trains which are intended to operate through the scenes, it might be worth considering not using a fast clock as is typical in many operating sessions. There is enough space and enough potential traffic the crews would need to do the same amount of work as the real railroaders accomplish.
Resource Use on the Railroad
Unlike the previous railroad designed around this line, this version would be of more interest to the person who enjoys switching rather than running trains out on the mainline. However, both layouts would need rather large locomotive and rolling stock fleets to keep up with the scheduled traffic of the line. As for the rest of the resources needed to create a model of the West Springfield yard, here is how they would break down:
Time would be spent...
- Building Railroad Equipment
- Laying Track
- Building Structures
The Space would be used for...
- Constructing the locomotive and rolling stock fleet
- Laying and wiring the track
- Developing the operating plan
Money would be spent on...
- Locomotives and Rolling Stock
- Trackwork and Control System
The Skills required to build the railroad are...
- Rolling Stock and Locomotive Detailing, Painting, and Weathering
- Track Laying and Wiring