The addition of a bay platform, as covered in the last entry, begs the question of where the branch trains are meant to go once they travel off around the layout.
There's nothing to stop them going into the fiddle yard and occupying one of the main roads, before reversing direction and coming back out again, but given that there are only
six storage roads (plus a few cassettes) it seems a bit wasteful to tie up a whole road with just a railcar or dmu when it could be taking a 7 coach train. Hence, I've been giving some
thought to adding a diverging branch which will be served by its own storage solution, be it a siding or two or perhaps cassettes.
I thought I'd doodle up handy, cut-out-and-keep sketch to show where things are now, and where they might be heading:
Click, as they say, to embiggen.
This is all in the context of a larger plot to possibly go fully double-track around the whole layout. something that's been hatching for a few years, but which I've not yet
committed to fully. As can be seen from the sketches, I've got two possible options for the branch, one which preserves a bit of single-line main, as it is now, and the
other which fits in with the full double-track scheme. There are numerous pros and cons, as can be imagined. Going double track allows for the fun of running two
trains at once, which can't really be done at present, but it would take away from the slightly bucolic, sleepy feel of the layout as it currently stands. In DCC, it's not
too hard to coordinate two trains operating at the same time (allowing for the single-line section) but in DC, it involves far too much switch-flicking to be relaxing, so
I tend to go with just one train moving at a time, which is by no means a bad thing.
I do like the double track concept, though, especially with the diverging branch, and in a way it's back to square one as this was basically the final configuration
of my old layout, which I took down in 2006 before we moved to Wales. That one also went through a number of phases, including being a bit like the present one
in that it was partly double and partly single track. Perhaps "double-track plus diverging branch" is my ideal layout?
One consideration which ought to be mentioned is the winter module, which is not really compatible with the double track junction, since it would be hard to conceal
the entry/exit points in a satisfactory manner, with so much more track. However, the winter model is more or less gone as it stands, since I ended up tearing out a lot
of the scenery in adjusting the track earlier this year. I also found that the plaster bed for the snow-covered landforms weighed a bloody ton, something I hadn't been
aware of when I was adding it a bit at a time. No wonder the brackets needed reinforcing! So whatever happens, the winter module needs a lot of work and won't
be returning in its old form.
On that score, I've been considering knocking down the partition between the summer and winter bits, making a single scene and allowing the junction to breathe a bit
more easily. Once I've done that, I'll only have to conceal one set of tracks, rather than two, which does appeal. (In the very, very long run, I might even blend the
spring and summer modules, too, creating a single scene much more like a traditional model railway).
Anyway, just floating these thoughts here and very interested to hear any opinions!