The selection of mainline running over either a full branchline or even a secondary line was not just taken by thinking over the choices, I actually mocked up some options using my current layout. Balbeggie Sidings has a double track mainline with a couple of loops and some sidings on the down side. It also has a smaller secondary yard on the other side of the layout from the main scene. By using one of the mainlines (the down line) as a single line I was able to mock up a station with a passing loop and small yard. One thing that struck me in doing this was the fact that I could happily live with whichever decision was finally arrived at, as none of the options were ruled out by these experiments.
I ran all three options for a few days each until I was content that they had been thoroughly tested and had satisfied myself that from an operational perspective they were achievable and would give a satisfying end result. I then considered how best the three choices could be delivered. The trade offs were in P4 there would be more building but cost of RTR stock would be less. EM would allow me to use larger steam locos in appropriate numbers and in a realistic time frame. 00 would allow the use of existing stock without conversion costs or time. The total stock required for a 00 mainline would be considerably more, but then of course it doesn't need to be built in a day. This is likely to be a long term project.
My main wresting match came when I considered the trackwork. I am happy to admit that my main error with Balbeggie Sidings was using RTR track and this was a mistake that I do not want to repeat. The thought of hand building track that is out of gauge does seem a little bizarre. However I did determine that I would not select the project on the basis of one element or pre-defined standard, but would let the project itself determine how it would be built. Suffice to say that at the end of all the experimentation it was the sight of a Peppercorn A2 at the head of 12 coaches that ultimately won the day. This is what I want to represent in model form. Whether it is the A2 or other big steam power or a blue class 40 or 47 at the head of an express, the attraction for me is watching the workings of a mainline. Perhaps it is simply a throwback to the voyeuristic pleasures of a life watching trains go by, but this has clinched the deal. Mainline it will be.
|The thought of losing the ability to run mainline trains was a huge factor in selecting a new project|
Set within the parameters of the known elements, such as; it will be scenic (rural), it will have hand built pointwork at least, it will be multi time period, DCC control, fully signalled etc, the ability to mock up and actually try the various options available was hugely beneficial to the planning process. The combination of some basic research using timetables and historical records, combined with the opportunity to "try before you buy" has lead to a clarity and focus that has been missing from my work for a long time. For anyone uncertain over a future project (there must be others - please tell me I'm not alone) I would recommend this approach, even if you have to borrow a layout to do it.