Jump to content
  • entries
  • comments
  • views

Introduction to North Marsh Road - Ex. 2010 Challenge




After much procrastination and umming and ahhing I have decided to take a late plunge and enter the RMWeb 2010 challenge. Not sure how far I will actually get, but the challenge has really inspired me to get on do at least something. However, my modelling efforts will have to be shared with a rather long running and fairly extensive house renovation project.


But for now here are the basic layout stats I am thinking of:


Layout Name
- North Marsh Road


What Type
- OO 4mm/ft - DCC


Where is it
- Eastern Region


- 1975 to 1995


- Scenic section - 45''x12'' - Full layout including fiddle yard and continuous loop - approx 10' x 6'


- The 2010 Challenge and for some fun







North Marsh Road will be a fictitious station based somewhere in the Eastern Region and possibly on the section line running from Kings Lynn to Ely in Norfolk, the London & North Eastern line.


The track layout, scenic elements and typical railway operation will be based upon a mixture of the stations and surrounding areas at Wymondham, Littleport, and South Lynn (disused).


I have purposefully chosen to create a fictitious layout as I like to idea of 'creating' a plausible layout at a justifiable location with prototypical operations. This, I feel, adds to the challenge of creating a layout that looks believable and would require a bit more research. It also frees me up from having to find an exact location that fits the baseboard size/room space or having to heavily modify an existing track layout to fit.


What I have not yet decided is whether to locate the layout on an existing line such as the Kings Lynn line or to create a completely fictitious place. There are two schools of thought on this; one is to add a station as a 'what might have been' scenario, or make it fictional but to take on the look and feel of the line, local architecture, railway operation and regional railway style. I guess time will tell.




Having grown up close to Kings Lynn and spending my formative railway enthusiast years traveling out to such places as Ely, Cambridge and Peterborough, I now have fond memories of that region during the late 70s and 80s. The era that

I grew up with at this time was BR Blue and then Sectorisation. It was a time of loco hauled passenger trains and freight services such as Speedlink and local trip workings.


It was also still a time when many areas were ruled by semaphore signalling. From an atmosphere perspective everything looked run down; stations, track and infrastructure. Track rationalisation and modernisation had not yet really started either, so with many stations still retaining their old track layouts and disused sidings.




Research, I think, is one of the fun parts about building a model railway. In fact I am sure many a layout idea gets researched but never built. I guess this is why I am entering the 2010 challenge, to actually move on from the armchair phase to the construction phase ;-)


I have been in the armchair phase for many years now, playing with plans searching the web and reading books and magazines. During this time I have come across many fantastic archive photographs on the web and these brought memories of BR days flooding back.


Some of the more specific web resources that I have found which have inspired this layout are as follows


  • This is a video that really inspired me on the Wymondham track layout and fright operation for my layout idea -
  • I think some of these photos really sum up what East Anglia felt like in the 70s and 80s = East Anglian Railway Archive and in particular Cambridge- Ely- Kings Lynn


And of course I have found RMWeb a great resource and inspiration too :D



Part Two - Further Idea Developments


The Fictional History


The station is located on a double track main line with a freight only branch line leading to local industrial facilities and a small port. At the station there 2 platforms, a good yard/loading facility, a good loop and some exchange sidings.


The 1946 OS Map below shows the location of the station, the various freight lines, port and surrounding area.





After the end of the World War II and then with the privatisation of road haulage in 1954, the volume of goods being handled by the port steadily declined. As a result and as part of the Beaching cuts in the mid 60s, the railway dock capacity was cut back with the double track branch line becoming a single track. This actually lead to an increase in shunting movements at the station as more freight was now trip worked from the port and local industries to the exchange sidings. Here they were marshalled into longer trains ready to be moved to other parts of the country. The reverse operation took place for goods arriving and empty stock for incoming goods.


The track layout and sidings at the station were built to enable freight from the docks to be exchanged and marshalled. There were also facilities to allow locomotives to swap ends. These simple sidings also offer storage and shunting capacity for the small loading facility adjacent to the station. The original track layout at the station is still pretty much in tacked today.


This loading facility with hard standing allowed for the handling of such products as cement, arable goods and other van load items.


The track layout will be based on Wymondham Station in Norfolk on the Norwich to Ely line at the junction to Dereham. The current station track layout is show below.




Rolling Stock


The period to be modelled will be set between 1975 and 1995 and so the livery era will cover both BR Blue and the introduction of Railfreight Sector liveries. Passenger traffic will be formed by both loco hauled and DMU stock and goods traffic being formed from short wheeled based wagons including such formations as Speedlink short trip workings.


The key traffic types are summarised as follows:


Goods Movements

  • Branch Line - Docks - Grain, coal, timber, steel and petroleum
  • Branch Line - Local Industries - Food products (Campbell Soups), sugar, building materials and timber
  • Station Goods Yard - Cement and agriculture
  • Main Line - Anything within reason
  • Typical loco types - 08, 25, 31, 37 and 47

Passenger Movements

  • Branch Line - None
  • Stopping at Station - Local stopping only - DMU (101, 108, 105) and short loco hauled (31 and 37s)
  • Main Line - Loco hauled - 31, 37 & 47 with MK1, Mk2 coaching


The rolling stock will mostly be RTR with some kit built wagons. I hope, over time, that all rolling stock will be weathered as I think it looks so much better. I have not yet fully decided on the coupling system to be used on North Marsh Road but it will be either 3 link or an auto coupler like Dingham - See here.


As already mentioned the layout will be DCC, initially just for control purposes. But, ultimately, I would like to go the whole hog with DCC and taken advantage of sound and rolling stock internal lighting, but the cost is just too high for sound at the moment. I would like to install sound to a Class 37 and a DMU, as these do sound good so who knows.


Summary of Key 'Wish List' Elements



  • A set Period
  • Semaphore signalling
  • Run down feel
  • Realistic
  • Illumination - buildings, signals, etc


  • Must be fun to operate
  • To provide a sense of the bigger world outside of the scenic layout itself.
  • Train movements to be based on typical prototype operation
  • Continuous running (to allow for watching train go by) and shunting
  • DCC
  • Prime function - Single operator, Secondary function - two person


  • Must be quick to build and also achievable in a short time period
  • Test bed of modelling techniques, materials and experience
  • Flexible - the layout design to allow future expansion



Part Three - 2010 Challenge - How to fit all this in.


"That's a lot to fit in 2010sq inches", I here you say :huh: Well here's the twist ;) what I will try to build will be a very small part the Wymondham track plan yet give the impression, operationally and scenically, that it is part of the bigger layout.


Time is short, so I needed to come up with a layout design that I could build relatively quickly without too much cost outlay. I needed to come up with an angle that would achieve all this but still be part of the 2010 challenge.


After a little bit of sketching and some calculations in Excel, I came up with the following idea - how about modelling 2010 sq meters of real life but in 4mm / ft. This equates to 536.6sq inches of baseboard area and so a 45' x 12' baseboard (1.154m x 0.300m) would work quite well. As this would be the scenic board I would use the rest of the 2010 area to create a non scenic continuous loop layout and fiddle yard.


What this means is that the small scenic board will be a small window of what is a much bigger layout 'off scene'. The trick will be choosing the right bit of a track plan to put in the Scenic window.


Taking the original Wymondham track plan and turning this in to North Marsh Road and then selecting the 'scenic window' area I have come up with this.




So the basic track plan I have come up with looks like this.





This is the early idea for the 45' x 12' scenic 'window' section.



(This was drawn in TRAX2 and then modified in SmartDraw to add the scenic elements)



And the over all baseboard dimensions are shown below, this all adds up to just under 2010 sq inches.




The green is the scenic base board, the yellow are the non scenic radius boards and the blue will be the fiddle yard, which will in the long term be a vertical traverse (thanks to Fen End Pit for the idea of a Vertical Traverser).



The next stage will be finalising the track design so that I can move on with the final baseboard design. Not sure at the moment whether to make the baseboards to buy them. To get me going quickly I could get the 45"x12" scenic board from a local company, White Rose Model Works, but not sure at the moment.



So there we are, a rather long introduction to my planned layout, but I hope an enjoyable read.


I look forward to sharing updates and photos of the various stages of the build and I welcome any comments / feedback.





Recommended Comments

There are no comments to display.

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...