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Is Minories operationally satisfying?


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  • RMweb Gold

I understood (?!) that layouts like Minories worked one of two ways.

 

1) train runs in to Platform 2 (the designated arrival line) and loco decouples.  Replacement loco from siding pulls out stock onto "out" main line and then propels back into Platform 1 and then departs after taking on passengers.  These were likely "tank only" services where the loco from incoming would go for water to the to the loco siding and then do the honours for the next train. All in to Platform 2 and out from Platform 1.  Note shunting (as per Bradfield) would be to the outgoing main line and NOT to the incoming line.

 

2) trains run in to either platform, new loco arrives LE and attaches to draw out.  No need for pilot.  Though of course previous loco (if it was a tank) could simmer in the sidings.  Tender locos have to rattle off LE to the nearest turntable (unless you want grumbling  and black faced drivers on long distance trains?)

 

If you want carriage siding(s) they really ought to be parallel and alongside the main station so the pilot can draw out from the platform and propel into the CS.  Else it becomes trapped as it can propel into the head shunt but is left to draw back into the siding and is trapped since there is nowhere to run round?? Hence carriage sidings usually off scene in areas where land is cheaper and there is space for run rounds etc.

 

Your throat diagram is a little over egged (?) for either way of working since the slips only need to be singles, the upper in favour of P1 to out main and the lower in favour of in to P2/3.  The other routes have alternatives.  Your design allows arrival to 2/3 whilst departure from 1 and departure from 1/2 with arrival to 3.  Unless you want parallel moves (fun if you can control them) the the upper slip could be a single LH point and the extra point at the end of P2 deleted - but keep the lower double slip to provide access all areas.

 

Don't forget that CJF's alleged inspiration for Minories was a prototype which worked using turnover engines - Train A arrived, engine from sidings worked it out, engine from Train A went to sidings or stood aside somewhere.  Train B arrived and engine that had worked Train A in worked Train B out, engine arriving on Train B worked Train C out.  No need to bother without shunting ECS around except possibly at the start and end of the day and in a busy small urban terminus it would be avoided like the plague during the day and particularly in the peak periods.

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I have never operated a Minories layout, but can see the attraction.  It is a classic plan and to my mind the best thing Freezer ever did, adaptable to several types of operation or a mix of them.  The concept of a suburban terminus, busy in the rush hours but lightly used in the periods between them, and probably operating parcels traffic in the evening as the local postal sorting office produces mail for despatch by midnight.  My main complaint is the lack of proper goods facilities, but if I were to build one I would have these as an urban goods depot on a higher level behind the station.  Freezer's concept has the station below ground level surrounded by retaining walls, which automatically lends itself to this approach.  You need a lift to get mails to platform level.  

 

As I say, it's adaptability is considerable; you can shuffle multiple units in and out, top and tail with locos, have a pilot removing stock to carriage sidings beyond the tunnel and bringing it back cleaned and serviced, or anything between.  Freezer suggested top and tailing, but this is not compulsory.  Traffic can be as intense as the layout can stand in rush hours, and more relaxed at other times, and the changes can be rung with different stock for inner and outer suburban runs, parcels, and even the odd excursion.  Unless you are wedded to the big main line concept of big engines and fast expresses or 60 wagon freights, Minories should be able to satisfy more or less any operational requirement, and is suitable for pre-grouping, big four, BR, and modern era stock.  I would personally be reluctant to recommend it for OHLE layouts, as the knitting will prevent access to anything that needs it because of those retaining walls, but that is about my only proviso.  The station throat is a masterpiece of compression, and entirely realistic and rallwaylike.  

Edited by The Johnster
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I recently realised something that I'd not really thought of before. Some years ago I spent an enjoyable few hours operating Brian Thomas' Newford (now incorporated into "Littleton") which was, with the addition of a storage road betweent the two platforms, a direct transposition of the original Minories to O gauge with the loco spur turned into a van siding for greater variety. Trains were mainly Southern EMUs (including a 4BEL) but there were also loco hauled passenger and parcels trains 

Newford at Watford Fine Scale

During the course of that session one of the points failed and the layout had to be operated effectively with a single track main line. That didn't though really diminish its operation.

Clearly. a single track version of Minories would have a far shorter throat so I got to thinking

787748410_compMinoriesFortWilliam.jpg.128621e21c1a2cc9f90675eb6c3746a7.jpg

The top diagram is the original Minories but with somewhat longer platforms.

The middle one is the exact same plan but with the crossings needed for the double track main line removed and the loco spur repositioned.   This far simpler plan still allow every move possible with Minories  to be carrried out apart form simultaneous arrivals and departures

Finally, move the loco spur out to the fiddle yard, flip the same plan left to right and, apart from halving the length of the throat,  what have you got?

The answer, with the curves appropriately adjusted,  is the pre 1975 terminus at Fort William. This only had two points and, though originally there was a releasing crossover between the two "bay" platforms, this was never much used and, by the mid 1950s, had been removed altogether. This lack of a relasing crossover was of course one on the design features of Minories.

The Western Highlands may be a long way from the City of London but Fort William was no branch line terminus and actually hosted a wider variety of operations and even trains than the commuter terminus imagined by Cyril Freezer. Through trains from Glasgow and Mallaig  would be in the station together, often losing or gaining the London sleeping cars, Glasgow restaurant car and a few other coaches that didn't work the Mallaig section so needed to be shunted to and from the carriage sidings half a mile or so up the line. In the summer relief trains could require all three platforms to be occupied simultaneously.

In the summer, there were also observation cars that had to be taken to the loco depot to be turned and some trains from Mallaig included the pre-Motorail car carrying vans that saved motorists arriving from the islands the tedium of the A380, then still a single track road with passing places, These had to be uncoupled from the passenger train and run up to the goods yard's end loading dock to be unloaded . More prosaically, many passenger trains also included a tail load of fish wagons. 

All these movements provided enough work to keep one or even two station pilots busy while other locos backed up the single line from the sheds to join the trains they were taking out, so freeing  the locos  that had brought them in to retire to the same sheds for servicing and turning. Apart from the turning of steam locos, most of this often hectic activity continued well into the diesel era.

The downside of Fort William is its uniqueness. So far as I know, it was the only single track "terminus" in Britain that handled such a rich variety of operation.  It would of course be perfectly possible to work a double track Minories in much the same way and, when trains were loco hauled, this kind of reversing junction involved a lot more operations than more conventional termini where every train starts and finishes its journey.  They were less common in Britain, though the GWR had one at Millbay before North Road station became Plymouth's main station,  but there were and are a number in the rest of Europe. Tulle, Tours, Orleans and to some extent Deauville-Trouville come immediately to mind. They were far more common in the USA and Canada where the main station in many  largish cities was a terminus on a spur off a main line that bypassed the downtown.  Sadly, unless used by commuters, most of these downtown stations have disappeared and, if there is a train, intending passengers often have to go to the edge of town to catch it. 

 

Edited by Pacific231G
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  • RMweb Gold

The only downside of Fort William operationally is that goods traffic wasn't handled in the terminus area.

Also the quayside line was very long in reality—ISTR that it would be tricky to operate the station if it was significantly shorter.

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Would having the fiddle yard nearby help to alleviate the problems caused by the shorter quayside line?  The only unavoidable problem I can see is that train lengths would be limited by the length of the longest platform, but we tend to run shorter trains that the real thing anyway.  That being said I'm not an expert on how Fort William was operated so there might have been some moves that relied on the longer line?

 

I've been thinking about the similarities between Fort William and Minories myself lately, although coming at it from a slightly different angle.  Starting with Fort William (but flipped vertically, compressed, and with the curves adjusted to make the Minories comparison more direct):

FtWilliam1.png.610610a75b0cfc949deddf730c20a8d5.png

I then modified the plan to make the line to the distilleries branch off much closer to the station so that I could do the old "hiding the fiddle yard behind an industry" trick.  I also decided to use the distillery line as a headshunt for the carriage sidings, as I wanted to move the carriage sidings closer to the station so that portions waiting to be attached to other trains would be on-scene rather than in the fiddle yard:

FtWilliam2.png.b5ba9659d2f281d678a5e7cb9a9df0f9.png

Finally, it seemed useful to have a second link from the distillery siding to the longest platform so that trains could be made up from coaches in the carriage sidings whilst other trains arrive and depart in the other two platforms:

FtWilliam3.png.686ca053874582b43cde0c3ad78e3f47.png

Which brings us back to the Minories throat, albeit now the non-station side of the throat has a single track line and a siding as inputs rather than a double track line.  This is all still very hypothetical, if I ever build anything based on this it will probably be L-shaped with the throat going around the corner and I'd try to work in at least part of an MPD because I think turning the observation coaches is an interesting move that I'd like to include in the operations.  Of course that implies I'd be able to get an observation coach in n...

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4 hours ago, D9020 Nimbus said:

The only downside of Fort William operationally is that goods traffic wasn't handled in the terminus area.

Also the quayside line was very long in reality—ISTR that it would be tricky to operate the station if it was significantly shorter.

It was and originally the quayside itself had a more extensive layout when it was used to import grain for the distilleries. Latterly it mainly only seemed to be used for the odd coach though entire trains had sometimes been parked there. The lack of goods traffic would also apply to the basic Minories, my point being that Ft. William can do with two points almost everything that Minories can with six. Goods wagons were worked into the station as there were quite a lot of tail loads  as well I think as mixed trains and the approach track as far as the entry signals was effectively the headshunt for the goods yard on the town side of the line.  I've seen tank wagons being shunted that way.

To save length you could move the quayside to in front of the lochside platform track but I'm not sure if that would keep the same atmosphere.

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For me a Station with centre road between platforms or Carriage sidings beside the platforms is the next step up from Minories if it is to be a genuine terminus, as in starting and terminating trains.   That way the pilot pulls the stock off an incoming train and pushes it back into a platform or siding, otherwise the pilot takes the stock away and ends up trapped at the buffers when it brings the stock back in .

I very much enjoy seeing trains arriving and departing simultaneously, or even better a shunt pushing in as a train arrives is very visually satisfying.

Some termini like Swansea, Bath Green Park and Bodmin GWR behaved or generally behaved like through stations with trains arriving and departing again with a fresh loco on the back but with most passengers remaining on the train and very few passengers alighting or joining. 

Apart from the "Through Terminals" many termini saw very few trains by present day standards but had lots of trains loitering around, trains due to depart an hour apart would be waiting together and woe betide the unwary passenger  who got on the wrong one.  Something all too often overlooked on a model is there is no need to keep a platform clear in case an extra train turns up.   They don't, not without a special traffic notice,  so two trains waiting to depart from Minories or even three as we approach the evening rush with an incoming service awaiting a platform adds to the fun

 

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Other than tweaking the plan, I would suggest that the other ‘make it interesting’ approach is to create a proper mini-signalbox, with lever-frame and, ideally, interlocking, and to signal all moves properly. That way it becomes more of a ‘terminus simulator’ and hence more purposeful.

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  • RMweb Gold

Here's a design derived from Minories that adds operational interest by imagining a busy city terminus with 5 platform lines filled with commuter trains and allowing lots of concurrent movements:

 

1090176367_DawsLane1.png.e4dd5d664bdc5debaea21d51d9d20011.png

 

It very much continues in the spirit of Minories:

  • Two small scenic boards, each 1220mm*510mm (4ft by 20in)
  • All the pointwork fits on one board
  • Double track running lines enter and turn across the platform ends forming the characteristic ladder of parallelograms
  • Constructed from standard Peco Streamline geometry
  • There's room for loco spurs or kickback sidings to be added if required

 

(The design is a bit rough in places - could be improved.)

Edited by Harlequin
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1 hour ago, Harlequin said:

Here's a design derived from Minories that adds operational interest by imagining a busy city terminus with 5 platform lines filled with commuter trains and allowing lots of concurrent movements:

 

1090176367_DawsLane1.png.e4dd5d664bdc5debaea21d51d9d20011.png

 

It very much continues in the spirit of Minories:

  • Two small scenic boards, each 1220mm*510mm (4ft by 20in)
  • All the pointwork fits on one board
  • Double track running lines enter and turn across the platform ends forming the characteristic ladder of parallelograms
  • Constructed from standard Peco Streamline geometry
  • There's room for loco spurs or kickback sidings to be added if required

 

(The design is a bit rough in places - could be improved.)

I like that Phil - mind you it does need one extra connection (two additional point ends) to achieve perfection with an added connection from the top platform to the departure line.  Put that in and you have got an absolutely top notch job in parallel moves with a track layout very much in the spirit and reality of a busy steam age terminus

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I like the busy appearance created by the additional slip at the 5 foot mark on Phil's plan and it does of course add a concurrent move.  The drawbacks of using Peco slips with their tight radii have been discussed on most of our Minories threads.

 

The extra pair of platforms suggests Birkenhead Woodside, which is another stalwart of these threads.  I'm sceptical, however, as to whether they will add much to the fun; I think you can easily reach the capacity of the throat with three platforms.

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  • RMweb Gold
27 minutes ago, The Stationmaster said:

I like that Phil - mind you it does need one extra connection (two additional point ends) to achieve perfection with an added connection from the top platform to the departure line.  Put that in and you have got an absolutely top notch job in parallel moves with a track layout very much in the spirit and reality of a busy steam age terminus

Ah yes! I gave the top platform that simple connection to shorten the ladder and I accepted the compromise it would cause but you're right, of course, it could probably have it's own outbound connection. (Tricky to keep the extra turnout required on the right hand board, though...)

 

21 minutes ago, Flying Pig said:

I like the busy appearance created by the additional slip at the 5 foot mark on Phil's plan and it does of course add a concurrent move.  The drawbacks of using Peco slips with their tight radii have been discussed on most of our Minories threads.

 

The extra pair of platforms suggests Birkenhead Woodside, which is another stalwart of these threads.  I'm sceptical, however, as to whether they will add much to the fun; I think you can easily reach the capacity of the throat with three platforms.

Yes, the small radius of the slips might be problematic in some cases but not always and they greatly help with compression. And I'm aware there are some sharp reverse curves in there at the moment. It might be possible to smooth some of them out.

 

Don't you think extra fun would be generated precisely because of the restricted capacity of the throat? E.g. Planning ahead to avoiding conflicting movements to try to get trains in and out efficiently?

 

Edited by Harlequin
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  • RMweb Gold

In many respects it comes back to 'Nearholmer's' comment in the post just above Phil's latest plan.  It will boil down to how you plan your trains to run over it and how you deal with the various controlling methods such as segregating Drivers and Signalmen and so on.  I suspect that if it were a steam hauled service five platforms might be a bit will be much  too much  for single handed operation whereas three platforms could be managed by a lone operator and provide some really good operating fun challenges.

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My friend's model of Cannon Street is an eight platform station (though with some licence two platforms are used as through roads).

 

To get the best out of it, it requires two people to operate the station (one doing arrivals and departures and the other doing loco moves). A third operator is required for the fiddle yard!

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42 minutes ago, Harlequin said:

...

 

Don't you think extra fun would be generated precisely because of the restricted capacity of the throat? E.g. Planning ahead to avoiding conflicting movements to try to get trains in and out efficiently?

 

 

I think you'd be into diminishing returns with five platforms and as Stationmaster commented (and probably CJF was well aware) three is enough to challenge a lone operator, particularly when all the movements associated with steam age working are considered.  I tend to think in terms of a single operator as I believe the great majority of layouts are still built for that purpose, but a club or exhibition layout would have a different set of requirements and in that case the ability to hold more trains in view might indeed be an advantage.

 

BTW a plea for DMU working. If you can fit three carriages and a couple of locos into a platform, you can also fit two 2-carDMUs: permissive working of platforms was common on the prototype, but is generally ignored by modellers.

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1 hour ago, Peter Kazmierczak said:

I agree with Mike.

I once built an 8-platform terminus with four approach tracks. It was just too BIG and I lost interest.

Hi Peter

 

That is very sad to hear, I am finding Sheffield Exchange Mk2 with 8 platforms as much fun as Mk1 was with 3. I think where I am lucky the trains don't just go from station to fiddle yard but run around the room for a few laps before I dispatch them into a fiddle yard. While they circulate I do the loco moves or just sit back and enjoy seeing trains moving.

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  • RMweb Gold

Notwithstanding the discussion above about layouts arguably being too much for a single person to operate (very interesting in a thread that asks whether Minories is satisfying enough) I went ahead and revised the "Daws Lane" design anyway.

 

I deployed my secret weapon, the Peco curved points (green), to swing the running lines 2 degrees more across the boards (was 18deg now 20deg). That gave me just enough room to fit in the outbound connecting line from platform 1 and still keep all the points on the right hand board. Notice how just that one extra line makes it much more difficult to recognise the design as a Minories variant (maybe it isn't one any more?).

1734796482_DawsLane3.png.18d95f1412b94a8514b4e8a4b106ee75.png

Although that fits, I'm sure you can see the problem: the outswing of carriages crossing over from Down to Platform 1 would be a problem against the platform edge and it's a shame having a small radius point (blue) in the design at all.

 

So, then I had a lightbulb moment and realised that setting all the platforms at an angle would do a number of good things:

  • Avoid the crossover against the platform face
  • Avoid the small radius point
  • Make the design a bit more dynamic
  • Make better use of the space, moving the "centre of gravity" back a bit.
  • Introduce some nice sweeping curves
  • Give people better views of departing trains

So the current idea is this:

1390950935_DawsLane4.png.5a8d691134232e4c56510dc42750d74f.png

 

I really didn't intend to spend all day drawing layout designs but it's so satisfying...

Edited by Harlequin
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6 hours ago, Harlequin said:

Here's a design derived from Minories that adds operational interest by imagining a busy city terminus with 5 platform lines filled with commuter trains and allowing lots of concurrent movements:

 

1090176367_DawsLane1.png.e4dd5d664bdc5debaea21d51d9d20011.png

 

It very much continues in the spirit of Minories:

  • Two small scenic boards, each 1220mm*510mm (4ft by 20in)
  • All the pointwork fits on one board
  • Double track running lines enter and turn across the platform ends forming the characteristic ladder of parallelograms
  • Constructed from standard Peco Streamline geometry
  • There's room for loco spurs or kickback sidings to be added if required

 

(The design is a bit rough in places - could be improved.)

I concur with Stationmaster Mike's suggestions that the topmost platform needs a separate exit to the out-bound main line (not for operating capacity on the model, but because it would look more plausible that way), and that the bottommost platform is one too many.

 

Many important termini got by with only four platforms. Marylebone never grew beyond four and Fenchurch Street was reduced to four when rebuilt for MY working. A station needs extra platforms when many trains have to be platformed at the same time. That happens more naturally when many destinations are served, or when there are long-distance trains where the stock remains in the platform for a long time. If Dawes Lane only has services to two or three suburban lines than four platforms are plenty.

 

If I were building a layout starting from Dawes Road as drawn, I'd turn the bottom road into a headshunt for goods activities, related to a depot or industry in front of the fiddle yard, as has commonly been done. I'd then add a goods-arrival road from the fiddle yard, parallel to the passenger arrival-road, and joining the headshunt where it bends near the platform ends. This allows a goods service to arrive and the goods engine to be released and sent back up the line for servicing, while a pilot engine deals with the incoming train and only takes one extra turnout. The depot access would be trailing off the arrival road, and there's room for either quite a large facility or a smaller one separated from the station by a bit of scenery and a road crossing.

 

I I was really going for it, I'd add to the above an extra, low-level goods depot under the station, served by a wagon hoist  near the end of the bottommost platform. The hoist siding would a kick-back from the depot in front of the fiddle yard.

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  • RMweb Gold

I tend to agree with those who feel that extra platforms does not necessarily give more interesting operation. Far better to include some sidings for a station pilot to shunt carriages and vans to.

 

Also important to split some trains so they depart with fewer carriages than on arrival with the empty stock being shunted away. A separate ecs road off to the fiddleyard might seem excessive from a three-platform station but I think it could be justified from a four-platform station.

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13 hours ago, Harlequin said:

Here's a design derived from Minories that adds operational interest by imagining a busy city terminus with 5 platform lines filled with commuter trains and allowing lots of concurrent movements:

 

1090176367_DawsLane1.png.e4dd5d664bdc5debaea21d51d9d20011.png

 

It very much continues in the spirit of Minories:

  • Two small scenic boards, each 1220mm*510mm (4ft by 20in)
  • All the pointwork fits on one board
  • Double track running lines enter and turn across the platform ends forming the characteristic ladder of parallelograms
  • Constructed from standard Peco Streamline geometry
  • There's room for loco spurs or kickback sidings to be added if required

 

(The design is a bit rough in places - could be improved.)

This is a very neat plan Phil. I was disappointed when trying a single slip to shorten the Minories throat to discover that its radius was about as tight as a Peco short radius turnout and buffer locking was far worse than the original plan using medium radius points  This wasn't just a peculiarity of Peco's geometry, I got exactly the same problem with an SMP slip and three foot radius point. By using single slips you do seem to have avoided having reverse curves without a point length between them. except for the route from inbound to platform 3 (counting from the top)

By the way, this is what your parallelograms look like in an idealised commuter station

 

770441390_GaredeBanlieue-projetideal.jpg.49d0db7e3d7eb0c8a83ad36a1611ecae.jpg

(from a study by the CF de l'Est in the 1920s to  increase the capacity of its Paris commuter termini without major investment)

 

I do though rather agree with Flying Pig and the Stationmaster about diminishing returns and I think you safely could safely lose  platform 1 without much reduction of operational potential. That would also make the new platform 1 significantly longer than the others (5ft rather than 4ft -4ft 6)  so useful for the odd express or semi fast amongst the suburban stuff. 

 

It's also worth remembering that, until comparatively recently, Marylebone managed with just four platform faces (It has six now but three of those are relatively shorter bays beyond the train shed). It wasn't of course a particularly busy commuter station but Fenchurch Street was and is and it also has just four platform faces (and originally three roads between two of the platforms.

If you look at books by the likes of Edward Beal and layouts like Maybank it's clear that four platforms, no more no less,  were long considered the appropriate number for a mainline terminus, usually arranged as a couple of island platforms. I do though think that two island platforms gives less sense of main line terminus importance than having at least one non-island platform, probably the original departure platform with waiting rooms, ticket office etc. buffet etc.

  1484629399_platformarrangements.jpg.9768c477b16ef7c9b4cdfb43333e2cba.jpg

I think the lower plan here feels larger and more important than the upper even though they both have four platform faces.  (ignore the throat pointwork, I just doodled this from an existing plan)  This requires more width of course but it's usually length that we're up against when cramming a main line terminus into a branch line space.

 

 

Edited by Pacific231G
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