I thought it was time I introduced a new layout that's been under quiet development for a little while. Just over ten years ago I got bitten by the French bug and built Cogirep, a small industrial layout that was created initially as an entrant in the RMweb "six foot challenge". The layout went on to have an extended life on the local exhibition circuit, with appearances mostly in the South Wales area, but also popping up as far away as Stafford, Melksham, Stow-on-the-Wold, Blandford and Bradford-upon-Avon.
Here''s the concept sketch for Cogirep, drawn in about 2006:
The layout altered a bit during construction, but the finished article wasn't a million miles away from the concept, with the "grotty pond" being a central feature:
Inevitably one thing led to another and over the ensuing ten years, I've acquired a few more items of French railway equipment ...
far more than could ever be plausibly accommodated on this little layout. So, thoughts naturally turned to a sequel ... not a replacement
for Cogirep, which is still extant, but a possible extension with a more urban feel, allowing for larger locomotives and perhaps some
Here's the concept for this next phase, then:
The "dream" was of a station, goods yard and connecting branch to Cogirep, all nestling amid attractive French town buildings,
all in a scenic area measuring 8 foot long by a shade under 1.5 feet wide. As a bonus, I also wanted to incorporate the
Faller car system, which had been intriguing me more and more.
The reality soon bit: unless I went for a more minimalist concept, it was all going to be unreasonably cramped. So, rather
than having a station, run around loop, connecting branch and so on, I settled on the idea of a large diorama in which the
operational possibilities are necessarily restricted, but with (I hope) scope for atmosphere and urban ambience aplenty. Having
operated not only Cogirep, but also the layouts of friends, I'm of the opinion that a low-key, minimalist operational set-up can
still provide plenty of entertainment in an exhibition context, provided the modelling's of a good standard and there's plenty
of atmosphere to soak up when the trains aren't doing much.
So I eventually whittled down my ambitions to a single track mainline, with a trailing connection to a small but ample goods
yard, of which the highlight is a characteristic Nord-style concrete goods shed. There's no run-around loop, and only three
sidings in the yard. However, with a sound-equipped loco pottering about moving wagons, while the occasional goods or
passenger train passes through on the main line, I reckon there should be just enough to sustain interest. The module
will be fed by two sets of storage sidings, one on either end, and unusually, there's an 1" elevation difference between
them, due to the contortions needed to get the mainline and road-system to co-exist.
Adding interest, the mainline enters the module to the left over an elegant bow-string bridge, crossing an urban river
and then vanishing behind a series of tall tenement buildings. As the mainline progresses to the right, the ambience
shifts from cozy cafes and hotels to a more run-down, seedy side of things, culminating in the area around the
I've made a head-start on many of the buildings, most of which feature interior detailing and illumination:
As for the layout itself, the boards, backscenes and lighting arrangements are already in place, as is much of the substructure for the tracks and road system. The road system is now in the process of being finished and thoroughly de-bugged before further construction continues. The layout - which still needs a name - is due to have its first outing later this year at Larkrail, and I hope to continue documenting the build between now and then. Fingers crossed it all goes well!