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Central Engine Terminal Track Plan

Minimalist Model Railroading Case Study #8

Central Engine Terminal

Capturing the Essence of an Engine Terminal

Track Plan At A Glance

Layout Theme: Engine Terminal
Layout Type: Permanent Layout
Size: 12'x18'
Scale: HO Scale
Era: 1980s-2000s
Track: Code 83
Turnouts: No. 6
Min. Radius: 30"

Article by: Jim Spavins
Posted: May 10, 2016
Published: December 31, 2012

A key part of the operation of any railroad is the locomotive repair and servicing shops. Usually located at a major classification yard, these facilities keep the locomotives running smoothly by providing regular inspections and maintenance as well as the occasional repair. In addition, fueling and sanding facilities along with turning facilities can typically be found at these engine service facilities.

For an engine service facility, the essential features of this design should include:

What might jump out quickly from the plan presented above is that there is almost no space for any other rolling stock but locomotives (with the exception of the fuel unloading tracks). The center island has space for the heavy repair shops, inspection pits, fuel and sand rack, as well as the balloon track to turn the locomotives around. In addition, the fuel storage tanks are located on the center island along with a small drainage pond. The staging yard occupies the left side of the room and along the top wall is holding tracks for locomotives which have already been services and are waiting for their trains to be readied before heading back out onto the road. There are a few extra tracks where maintenance-of-way equipment or bad order equipment might be held away from the classification yard activities.

Selkirk yard Engine Terminal

The engine service facility at Selkirk Yard in upstate New York. | Photo by Jim Spavins.


Operating the Railroad

The staging yard on the left side of the room acts as the connection to the classification yard where trains arrive and depart throughout the day. The locomotives will have been cut off from their train and then sent to the engine facility for inspections, fuel, sand, and a crew change. Once the locomotive set is ready, it is sent back to the classification yard (staging yard) where, in theory, the set is attached to a new train and sent back out onto the road. One or two people could be kept busy bringing these sets back and forth from the yard to the engine service facility acting as engine hostlers. Another person could work on switching out locomotive sets which are in the shop for heavy repairs as well as change out the tank cars at the fuel delivery tracks. A Trainmaster could serve as a dispatcher of sorts, figuring out what power is needed for what trains, managing what equipment needs repairs, as well as what locomotive sets need to be switched. If you want to add some complexity to this job and make it more prototypical, you could actually calculate the power needed for all the trains departing the yard and make sure that the assigned locomotive set has enough to pull the train through the territory. This could be a separate Trainmaster Assistant position if you have extra people available for the operating session. All in all, at a busy yard, 20-40 trains might roll through during a shift which would certainly keep everyone on their toes during an operating session.

Resource Use on the Railroad

As one might imagine, the vast majority of resources for a layout like this will be focused around locomotives. These tend to be the most expensive line item for any layout so when the focus of the layout is a locomotive servicing facility, the budget will be heavily skewed in this direction. It's quite possible that 100 locomotives could be placed on the layout and switched during a session. If the sound and DCC-equipped locomotives are the choice of the day, the total dollar figure just for locomotives would dwarf the rest of the components needed to build this layout. As for the rest of the resources needed for the layout, they are as follows:

Time would be spent...

The Space would be used for...

Money would be spent on...

The Skills required to build the railroad are...

Minimalist Model Railroading Case Studies

Capturing the Essence of Railroading

Introduction - Minimalist Model Railroading

Case Study #1 - Claremont Concord Railroad
Scale: O Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #2 - CP Rail's Kicking Horse Pass
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #3 - Trolley Museum
Scale: O Scale        Size: 2'x6'

Case Study #4 - N&W 611 Excursion
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 29'x44'

Case Study #5 - CS Industries
Scale: O Scale        Size: 10'x11'

Case Study #6 - Sono Tower
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #7 - Boston and Albany Railroad
Scale: N Scale        Size: 29'x44'

Case Study #8 - Central Yard Engine Terminal
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #9 - Iron Horse Railroad Museum
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 10'x11'

Case Study #10 - MM&R Timber Co.
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 10'x11'

Case Study #11 - Springfield Metro
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 10'x11'

Case Study #12 - South Station, Boston, MA
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #13 - Canaan, CT
Scale: N Scale        Size: 10'x11'

Case Study #14 - Chas Chemicals
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #15 - Westerly, RI
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #16 - Connecticut River Drawbridge
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 29'x44'

Case Study #17 - Valley City Viaduct
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #18 - Wood River Railroad
Scale: O Scale        Size: 29'x44'

Case Study #19 - Portable Shortline
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 29'x44'

Case Study #20 - Charter St. Steam Plant
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 8"x15'

Case Study #21 - Eastern Scenic Railroad
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 29'x44'

Case Study #22 - West Springfield Yard
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 29'x44'

Case Study #23 - Good Ol' 4x6
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 4'x6'