Track Plan At A Glance
Layout Theme: Industrial Railroad
Layout Type: Permanent Layout
Scale: O Scale
Track: Code 125
Turnouts: No. 6
Min. Radius: 36"
Article by: Jim Spavins
Published: April 19, 2016
One of the tighter focuses of a model railroad design is an industrial railroad. These vary in size widely with some operations little more than a single spur and a Trackmobile to industries with their own locomotive fleet. These railroads can make interesting themes for a layout as they usually are fairly compact and offer enough switching variety to keep layout operations interesting.
Before starting the design for a layout featuring an industrial railroad, let's list the essential features that capture the essence of this theme. These elements should include the following:
- Manufacturing or production facility requiring frequent spotting of cars
- Industry owned locomotives
- Interchange with common carrier railroad
The plan at the beginning of the article emphasizes these essential layout elements and minimizes everything else. On the top wall, the production facility which requires delivery of railroad cars is modeled with room for up to four 50' cars. On the bottom wall is the interchange track. Here there is space for another six 50' cars. In all, up to ten spots are available to switch equipment. It should be noted that the tail track off the spur is shorter than the industrial spur - this means the entire siding cannot be pulled in one shot. This will add some complexity to the operations.
A Bay Colony Railroad Geep switches an industry in the summer of 1998. | Photo by Jim Spavins.
Presenting the Railroad
With an emphasis on switching the industry as the focal point of the layout, the layout room should be well lit so as to allow crews to comfortably read switchlists or handle waybills. There is enough space in the center of the room that it might be possible to widen the layout a bit on the top and bottom walls to add a one foot wide shelf in front of the layout for crews to place their paperwork and controllers while working through the day's operations.
Operating the Railroad
This layout is meant to be operated as a solo endeavor although a second crew member could certainly help as a conductor throwing the switches and handling the paperwork. The crew would start by gathering the switchlist and preparing the day's activities. The crew then picks up the locomotive which is stored at the end of the line by the production facility. Depending upon the crew's work for the day, they will either start by working the industrial siding or heading down to the interchange to pick up the cars left overnight. One of the interesting operational elements of an industrial railroad is that the crew may need to re-spot cars during the day as the crews inside the facility finish unloading or loading the cars. In addition, the interchange railroad may show up during the day meaning the crew may have to run back and forth a couple of times during the day to be on time for these various events. It may not be as simple as just exchanging the four cars for four at the interchange and calling it a day.
Resource Use on the Railroad
For this railroad, the goal is to capture the essence of an industrial railroad. Here is how these resources would be used to accomplish this goal for the CS Industries design:
Time would be spent...
- Building Railroad Equipment
- Operating the layout
The Space would be used for the...
- Industrial Facility
- Interchange Track
Money would be spent on...
- Locomotives and Rolling Stock
- Control System
The Skills required to build the railroad are...
- Rolling Stock and Locomotive Detailing, Painting, and Weathering
- Track Laying
This potentially could be a good layout for the person who enjoys building highly detailed rolling stock and equipment along with switching freight cars. This type of layout lends itself well to the exacting P48 standards with a reasonable amount of trackwork to build and a relatively small equipment roster. However, these projects would take some time so a smaller bedroom size layout like the one above would allow progress in a shorter amount of time than if this same layout was expanded to a larger space.