Solving the mystery of the track plan

They say that a battle plan never survives first contact with the enemy. Well, my new layout lasted three weeks. I purchased all of the components of the “express” that would travel between Pennvale and Manchester/London. I placed it on the track and it ran the 10 feet into the fiddle yard. My reaction was “Is that it?”

I went away feeling that either I had burned the money on something that was a waste of time or that I should rethink this. I had, previously, turned away from a “roundy-roundy” because my units were 2′ wide and I didn’t want to be committed to tight curves to get round in that space. However, I also didn’t want to expand the depth of the railway in the middle of the room. This is what the room looked like with the existing railway boards.

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 17.50.21.png

The main board is Board 1 and the fiddle yard is on Board 2. I had to have a good think because I didn’t spend £250.00 on a single train to see it move 6 feet and stop again! Discussions with SWMBO came up with the following:

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 17.50.48.png

This gives me a 14′ length with boards at each end that can take 4th Radius curves without making inroads into the room. The branch has been extended and no longer has the fiddle yard attached. This will now be a nice roundy-roundy with quite a long run. The fiddle yard will be along the front (taking up 6″ of the 24″ wide boards and will be lower than the rest of the layout so that it is effectively hidden, even though it is out front.

The fiddle yard will have hand operated points as they are right up front. They will be outside of JMRI routing but that won’t matter as we will just have a “generic” source for each and every train that runs on the main line. This also means that the branch can now be remotely controlled as I have ample Cobalt IP point motors. However, I am having some difficulty in designing the layout which will now comprise of Pennvale Sands as a through station on a fictitious run through from Whitehaven to Workington from the WCLM.

The railway exists but not as I am using it but remember Rule 1*! This gives me an excuse to run express trains through from Manchester/London which terminate at Pennvale as it is a popular seaside resort. It also has local passenger services up to Carlise and a DMU service to Ellerby – the branch terminus. Goods services are as follows:

  • Through pick up goods from Carlise and Whitehaven stopping at Pennvale
  • Mineral trains (coal) from Whitehaven to Pennvale and empties back
  • Local pickup goods to and from Ellerby (including coal)
  • Fish traffic from Ellerby to the Fish Processing factory in Pennvale
  • Fish products from the factory north to Carlise and south to Manchester and beyond.

Journeys will all involve a set number of loops around the track – some more than others with the minimum being for trains to the branch/Ellerby.

I have most of the stock required but I don’t have a track plan so that will be the next post.


  • Rule 1 – it is my railway;
  • Rule 2 – I refer you to rule 1!




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