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Springfield Metro HO Scale Track Plan

Minimalist Model Railroading Case Study #11

Springfield Metro

Capturing the Essence of a Transit System

Track Plan At A Glance

Layout Theme: Transit System
Layout Type: Permanent Layout
Size: 10'x11'
Scale: HO Scale
Era: 2000s
Track: Code 83
Turnouts: No. 4
Min. Radius: 20"

Article by: Jim Spavins
Posted: June 7, 2016
Published: December 31, 2012

One of the key components of any large city planner's transportation plan is almost always a transit system. In many big cities, rail is the obvious answer in moving large numbers of people around the city quickly and efficiently. In the last couple of decades, light rail transit systems have become a popular choice for these city planners and a number have been built around the United States such as the St. Louis MetroLink (pictured below) constructed in the early 1990s. For model railroaders, these light rail systems make for interesting modeling candidates. Track radii and grades can be substantially smaller and steeper, respectively, due to the size of equipment run on these lines. This makes designing a layout to fit in a spare bedroom much easier with lots of opportunities for highly detailed scenes with large buildings towering above the right of way. This theme would be a great candidate for the modeler who enjoys building structures and adding endless detail to their layouts.

To capture the essence of a transit system, the essential features of this railroad should be:

Even within our constraints of a 10'x11' spare room, it would be possible to incorporate all of these essential elements to build a spectacular transit line. The plan shown at the beginning of the chapter is a point to point design featuring a light rail line set in the fictional Springfield metro area from its start at an airport in the suburbs to the city center. A total of four station stops are included on the route. The layout starts at the suburban airport station and proceeds to a suburban station stop. Buildings in this area should only be a few stories tall and the line should even feature a grade crossing or two. The line then proceeds into the more densely populated downtown area with a stop at the commercial district and terminates at the downtown stop in the city center. At this end of the line, the tracks proceed below grade with large skyscrapers dominating the area around the station.

Operating the Railroad

This railroad could be operated in a traditional manner with engineers operating the trains and a central dispatcher directing traffic. A small crew of three people could fit in the room to handle the traffic on the line with a pair of trains shuffling between the station stops. However, this would be a light schedule. The railroad could support as many as four trains on the line at any given time but the room would be ill-equipped to handle this number of operators. Therefore, the alternative would be to program an automated train control system to have hands free operations on the railroad in order to increase the number of trains on the railroad. This would certainly be a programming challenge but certainly well within the realm of possibility for any hobbyists willing to spend a little time learning code and computer interfacing.

st Louis Metro at Busch Stadium

A St. Louis Metro set pulls into the Busch Stadium stop during the fall of 2005. | Photo by Jim Spavins.


Resource Use on the Railroad

To capture the essence of a transit line, here is how resources would be used to accomplish this goal for the Springfield Metro design:

Time would be spent...

The Space would be used for...

Money would be spent on...

The Skills required to build the railroad are...

As mentioned earlier, this layout would be well suited for the person who enjoys building structures and detailing. The layout could provide a plethora of these types of projects and certainly be outfitted with numerous lighting and animation features such as a working signal system and building lights to add to the effect of a bustling city themed layout.

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'