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Newbie layout design - introducing Langholme

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I’m brand new to the hobby, not much of a chippy or sparky, but have always enjoyed trains. I was born in Doncaster and loved to peer down on the station’s goings on front the North Bridge. 

I have put together a layout design, and in my own typical fashion, I have undoubtedly bitten off more than I can chew. I want a main line, a freight/branch line and a TMD. I want to create a Doncaster-esque station and have the lines double loop so there is a decent enough run between station passes on a continuous loop. The challenge is as the space available, the likely challenge in constructing the inclines to co-exist happily and still be able to be complimented with some scenery model work. I’d like to get a fiddle yard in somewhere - but I’ve not tackled that requirement yet, nor do I have the down main line able to access the TMD yet...


Anyway  - that’s it in a nutshell. Plan attached so far. Constructive feedback welcome and appreciated.






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Hi Robin 


Welcome to RMweb. 


There is nothing wrong with being ambitious, but many on this site will say start with something simple to get something done. 


The plan you have drawn does allow you to build in different stages, and getting things working on one area before working on another. For example you could start with the main line, then add the branch and the freight line, and finish with the depot. 


Some thoughts on the track plan. 


For the main line, you could put a fiddle yard under the main station. There are ohers on RMweb who have devised hinged upper tracks to allow access or you could put the point work outside the main station under some scenery for easier access and less wordworking!.


A fiddle yard on the branch line is more difficult, although a simple passing loop on the branch somewhere would allow trains to run between one set of bay platforms at the other. 


Same applies for the freight branch. I would maintain two tracks on the bottom bit of the layout with some crossovers between the barnch and freight route - that would allow th two routes to be operated seperately and perhaps could include a passing loop on both lines to ac t as a small fiddle yard. 


As you mention there is a need for some more crossovers to link the various lines together. If you want to exchange locos on the main line, then some loco holding sidings at each end of the station would be required. Perahps for the time period, you could imagine that the line was being electrified and that the station was the current extent of the wiring, so a loco change would be required on through trains. More of a West Coast layout than an East Coast where that didn't happen. 


For a 80-90s layout the MPD looks extensive, unless there were major sources of traffic locally, a smaller stabling point would  be more typical, but this could create space for some freight sidings. 


Hope this is helpful





Edited by stivesnick
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As suggested I wouldn't think about trying to do all that in one go.

Get one part up and running first and see how you feel about completing the rest, you may find after doing the first "stage" that your plans were a bit too ambitious and you might want to scale them back a bit.

One of the problems with this hobby is trying to bite off too much in one go , getting frustrated and either giving up completely or constantly going back and making changes to the point where you might want to give up.


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Welcome. Looks interesting, and having spent time at Doncaster on many occasions I can see why you want to replicate the feel. A couple of points to add to what has been said already:


The light blue branch looks like it will be very awkward above the dark blue, as well as being a big scenic feature which will be hard to make look realistic, running parallel to and above the dark blue. I would suggest the branch might be better as a simple oval on one level, or maybe move the loop so it runs underneath the same as the fiddle yard. Otherwise it will dominate the scene and look rather odd I think. 


Some of the platforms look a bit short, especially the orange main line one. Starting the loop on the curve at the left hand end with a set of right hand points would both eliminate the reverse curve through the points into the platform and allow the platform to be longer. If possible, I'd look at doing the same to the left hand end of the green line too. 


Above the top platform you have a set of points starting a loop half way along it. It would be better for that loop to be the full length of the platform otherwise if a train is in the platform it will block the loop. Points against straight platform edges also mean you'll have a risk of the overhang of long coaches scraping the platform unless you leave a much larger gap. 


The arrangement with the diamond crossing and the light blue arows showing one track for each way looks odd too. The platform and (extended as above) loop would both likely be bi-directional. Anything crossing from light blue to dark blue from the right would enter the (extended) loop, not enter the platform road then cross the loop on a diamond crossing - that would effectively make the loop useless as you couldn't use it for stabling trains, and nohing could cross it if there were a train in the platform already. 

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Given the name, I was expecting a sleepy Scottish BLT rather than a major East Coast junction.


I agree with the others that a bit of simplification and, if possible, longer platforms would be good.

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Thank you Nick, JDW, Smallman and Joseph! Much appreciated! Thank you for the graphic amended too Nick - that’s a massive help.


Langholme was the name of the country lane I used to sit and watch the trains roll by from as a kid. It was an old level crossing on the Doncaster to Gainsborough line. I live in NZ now so have a habit of naming things after the UK part of my life!


Thanks fellas.


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That's looking better but you seem to have a large ratio of branch platforms (4) to main line platforms (2) with no connections. I'd have a set of trailing crossovers to the left of the station to allow clockwise main line trains into the through and two bay branch platforms and to allow them to depart anticlockwise, as @stivesnick indicated at '1' on his drawing above. 


The right hand bay platform is next to a very wide platform, I'd get rid of the lower strip of platforms and move the bay up so it is in line with the upper of the two left hand bays. That way you get a longer platform face, and can either widen the main line platform (with fence on the upper edge against the bay, as seen at Doncaster in the south end bay that EMT services to Lincoln use) or make it look like there was a second bay there and the track has been removed. It would also balance out the platforms a bit, as the current branch platforms seem much bigger than the main line ones. It might also allow you to keep the same platform length but increase the space between the two sets of bays to provide more circulating space for passengers.


I'd move the light blue to dark blue connection as far to the left as possible to give you the longest possible loop to stable a freight train.


I'm still not convinced about the light blue freight bypass above the station/TMD (unless that's a non-scenic area) as it will have to float above the TMD tracks. It cant't run on arches as there is track below, and couldn't sit on a series of girders as again there's nowhere for the piers to support them. A cantelevered concrete structure would allow it to overhand the tracks below but that would suggest a much more modern structure that tends to be found on high-speed lines or motorways rather than an old freight route. Even then finding space for the pillars where tracks run under will be awkward.


The platforms look quite short, how long are they, a nd what kind of trains do you intend to run? Looking at what you have I'd guess the green (anticlockwise) one would fit 5-coach trains (loco+4 or a 2+3 HST) and if the yellow to blue connection were as far to the right as possible, the yellow (clockwise) one would fit an extra coach. I'd be tempted to replace the loco spur on the left of the green platform and make that into part of the loop, rejoining the main line on the curve to give a longer platform. That said,  I'm conscious that trains at Doncaster do snake across the pointwork into the platform (especially those arriving from the south) and it might be more important to replicate that than have longer platforms.


Where possible I'd try and make the platforms as wide as possible, especially the one between yellow and blue lines, to give an impression of space.


The light blue points bottom right look very squashed in. I can see why it's like that to allow for the up and down gradients of the two routes, but it will impinge on the main lines below, and introduce reverse curves (left-right-left if running anti-clockwise or vice versa) which are always best avoided where possible. it would be better if the left hand point formed the start of the curve, but it might not work out with the gradients. There seems to be a similar problem of trying to fit too much with the left hand side, where the light blue crosses all 4 tracks then re-crosses two. It might look spectacular but the real railway wouldn't build something like that, and again it will be hard to fit in the piers to support a realistic-looking bridge. If I've understood right, it also means a limited length for the track to descend back to station level. Having it branch off to the outside at the start of the lower left curve (where the blue arrow head is) would give a gentler gradient and save having to criss cross every other track twice.


Sorry, that's a lot of text, it is hard to get across things in text that would be simple with a picture! Looking forward to seeing this develop though, should be an interesting layout. What era/time frame are you looking at?

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Thanks JDW. You seem to have an heck of an educated eye for this! I’ll soak all that up and have a play to see if I can get the inclines to work and I do agree with your points. The bypass piece is more me liking what I’ve seen on other layouts, having an upper bypass above a retaining wall - but do see it is a trade off as it distracts from the station scene and needs a bit of tricky engineering to keep it supported above the TMD entry. I may try to move the TMD entry to the left and reduce the amount of track under the bypass, but that will mean more redesign of the in/out to each of the TMD zones. I could push out the baseboard an couple of inches to just ease the need for the engineering miracle. I’ll have a Crack at @stivesnick #1, I had a quick go but the curves were getting too tight for the mainline.

I don’t have a lot of stock - but I was thinking some 3 coach HSTs and class 56, 47 and 32 pulled main trains, and then just DMUs on the branch. The era won’t be a strict time slot, but 80s/early 90s is where my aim as that was the time I enjoyed it in person.

Appreciate you time and efforts JDW!



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I think I might be missing something, but I can't work out the size. I can see lots of vertical measurements, but nothing in the linear dimensions. I can see that the space in the centre is two-and-a-bit squares by one and a half. That makes me suspect that reaching over to the sides, and perhaps to the bottom, will be difficult. And if I'm reading correctly that it has tracks at multiple levels, I think that accessing most of the tracks will be difficult (stalled locos, derailments).


Also, I hope your curves are gentle enough for the stock you intend to use. Is it N or 4mm scale ?

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The squares are 1m by 1m, and the scale is 4mm. I have access from both sides of the station (as well as from the centre space obviously). I’m hoping if I construct the inclines early on, I will build the scenery to maximise front access into the hidden spaces if its needed.




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Posted (edited)



I couldn’t get a link from the main line to the branch as the inclines we’re going in opposite directions - so I’ve parked that one for now. I have simplified the dark to light blue and moved the TMD entry out a few inches to remove the overlaps. A bit of platform mods as per your thoughts @JDW and I’ve added an attempted fiddle that links up top the mainline under the Station....


Other changes as per the suggestions as best as I could have it work. 


Cheers Robin








Edited by Robman75
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