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Rusper MRC


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Let me introduce you to Rusper MRC, a truly unique club. Whereas many clubs focus on the building of a procession of detailed layouts, Rusper runs a OO gauge railway network that has remained almost unchanged since 1991. With the permission of Andy Y, it is my intention to showcase what the club has to offer. We are currently looking for members and if you like what you see, don’t hesitate to get in touch!


The club is based in Bromley, Kent and has a running session roughly once a month. The session dates are published well in advance and every effort is made to ensure they don’t clash with important dates and local shows. During the warmer months, maintenance sessions will run every other Thursday evening.



Operations at Charlwood


The network consists of 10 stations housed within 6 garden sheds (see diagram to follow in the next post) and these are connected by outside sections which are set up for the operating sessions. These outside sections can be covered should it rain, but otherwise you will be able to see the expresses at speed or enjoy watching the branch line trains plod to their next destination.



A shower brings out the covers for the outside sections


Trains are signalled using BR bell codes and a realistic timetable. There are 4 editions of the timetable, which factor in quieter night time periods as well as difficult rush hour periods. Empty stock movements, excursions, set and local goods trains add colour to the procession of passenger trains. There are even occasional permanent way occupations requiring one-line running.


If there are not sufficient members available for a session, there is a 4 shed timetable that utilises sheds 1-4 and a 3 shed timetable that utilises sheds 4-6.



Britannia hauls the Royal Train for a one off special to celebrate the Jubilee


As can be seen from the diagram, the stations are not consecutive – there are two branch lines, a large marshalling yard and extensive carriage sidings away from the mainline. There are large motive power depots at the termini, carriage sidings and a smaller one at the marshalling yard.


I will be adding further posts about the individual stations as well as other aspects of Rupser’s history and operation. If there are any aspects that interest you, I will endeavour to cover them in future posts! The next post will include a crude overall plan of the club.



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My second post follows rather quickly as I feel that the overall track plan is quite important to give an idea of the scale of our layout!



Rusper MRC overall plan


There are further linkages between stations in some sheds that I have not illustrated. These will be further explained when I go into each station in detail. An example however would be Shed 3. where, at the the 'Rusper' end of the shed, there is a double track link branch line between the two stations.


The words 'Rusper MRC' are on top of what is in reality, a square of grass where the members congregate for lunch and the AGM. A good place to watch trains go by is between sheds 2 and 3 as the outside sections are long and straight (my diagram does not illustrate this well), allowing for high speed running. There is a reasonable gradient here, so speed really is required to get the heavier expresses to Glovers Lane!


The Southerners amongst you will notice that the names of the stations can be found around the Gatwick area.


EDIT: I drew the above track plan from memory, and have since realised that there should in fact be four lines connecting sheds 5 and 6, as the branch is double track at this point.

Edited by Torn-on-the-platform
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  • 3 weeks later...

Operation Part 1 - The Timetable


Rusper MRC is, as far as we are aware, the only club that operates a fully timetabled network. The meticulous planning that must have gone into setting up the club in its current incarnation is impressive to the point of mind boggling and becomes apparent the longer you operate.


Most stations require one operator, though some require two. The operator will act as both signalman and engine driver. If in a pair, operators tend to take charge of each end of the station rather than split the driver/signalman roles, unless the second operator is not yet familiar with the duties of a Rusper signalman.


My usual station is Glovers Lane. I will write post about each station in the not too distant future, but as can be seen from my crude overall plan of the club, it is situated in Shed 3 and is fed by the double track mainline and branch line from Charlwood in shed two. The branch peels off to Newdigate Road on the other side of the shed, whilst the mainline continues onto Russ Hill in Shed 4.



BR 3MT 82020 waits in platform 3 at Glovers Lane


There are 4 editions of the timetable and I always find it remarkable how intricate they are. The timetable varies in intensity depending on the time of day represented, with sleepers replacing the expresses at night. As long as the operators and infrastructure can keep up, the timetable allows for a very smooth operation, with the odd intentional hiccough thrown in to keep everyone on their toes. For example:

  • Express trains will overtake other mainline services at Glovers Lane, requiring Branch-Mainline movements
  • The engineer's train may take occupation of a running line, necessitating wrong-line running

The main 4 and 6 shed timetables have remained largely unchanged in over 20 years, however a member has recently decided to type them up and include colour coding for the movements that are slightly out of the ordinary. Glovers was one of the first to receive this new timetable and it has been a great help! The following page is the 7th page of the 300 series timetable, and includes the movements described above:




I apologise for the number of codes that I have not yet explained, but they generally apply to different types of passenger train, for example CM6 is one of the mainline corridor trains, whereas PP1 is one of the push-pull trains.


If there is a problem with the layout, or someone is struggling to keep up, the clock can be stopped to allow a period of catch up time.


Up next will be Part 2, bell codes and train control. Part 3 will focus on the trains.


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I would love to join but sadly im under 18.


That is a shame!


I was lucky enough to have just turned 18 when this rule was forced into play. The club has nothing against younger members but the change was a necessity following the CRB law changes. I always had to attend with an adult until I was (I think) 16.

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  • 2 months later...

Apologies for the lack of promised updates, I've been studying hard for upcoming exams. The detailed articles will follow but here are a couple of photos taken by Trevor Jones of Hornby Magazine, who has given the club permission to use them for publicity:



Shed 1: Hookwood - A Pullman service departs for Rusper.



Shed 5: Prestwood - A 4MT takes a semi-fast service along the mainline* whilst a 45xx simmers in the station. A goods train has just arrived from Birchfield goods yard and will shortly depart for Russ Hill.


*Shed 5's operator controls both Prestwood station and Birchfield goods yard. They do not, however, control the mainline section that passes through the shed, which is controlled by the operators in sheds 4 and 6. Its a fantastic sight when the mainline trains cross here!

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  • 2 years later...

One of the club's members has produced this rather excellent driver's eye view of the club's mainline and given me permission to post it on this thread. It was filmed earlier this year and some maintenance has taken place since, in particular the underlay at the final station, Rusper, has been replaced (much needed!). For some reason much of the stock in the video is more dated than usual - we tend to run more recent RTR stock, and are particularly reliant on Bachmann standard 4s and 5s, as well as their DMUs.


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  • 5 years later...

Just to bump this thread!

I have recently joined this group and was amazed at running a model railway to a proper timetable!

New members will start shadowing a more experienced member on one of the stations to see what has to happen and when. Some of the stations are very busy, where you could have two mainline and two branch trains arriving with in minutes, whilst you have to shunt the pickup goods train in the yard!

Other stations are a bit more quite, especially on the single track branch sections. The operator can have a rest between trains or help out with the busier station in the same shed as them. But they have to keep their ears open to hear their signal box bells ringing, announcing the impending arrive of a train. Their shunting pole cast aside, they rush to accept the train, because a delay of a minute here can cause a ten minute delay further down the line. 
Both end stations have the preceding stations in the same shed, so bell codes are not necessary, as you can speak to your fellow operator to accept or offer a train. This is the next place for the new member. 
At the terminal stations, the trains are driven into the correct platform corresponding to the timetable. The train engine is uncoupled and run forward clear of the carriages. Then an appropriate fresh  engine from the shed is coupled to the front of the train to take it out when it is called in the timetable. 
As we run in a time period 1948-1964 the correct ex regional passenger locomotive has to be matched with the appropriate coaching stock. All regions are represented with the British Railways standard designs being very handy if you do not have the appropriate loco on shed. (Britannia 7MT

4-6-2 are the great wildcard for even the parcels trains!)

Then the old train engine at the buffers under the station canopy has to be sent to the sheds for turning and servicing. 



Edited by muddy water
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I will always approve of layouts where distance and timetables are taken seriously, and this looks a lot of fun. I have never seen the point of ultra-scale models that do not try to represent what happens on the full-size railway in some form. 


It helps that the place names chosen are awfully familiar. A good friend wrote off his Lotus Cortina on a back-road between Newdigate and Rusper 50 years ago (he was sober), and his father had spent years re-wiring Russ Hill Country Club! 

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