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Author Topic: Oxcott [Thames valley 1989/Network SouthEast]  (Read 4055 times)

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Offline jamespetts

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Oxcott [Thames valley 1989/Network SouthEast]
« on: August 11, 2018, 01:39:17 AM »
I have recently had a shed built in my garden for model railway purposes. I plan to build two layouts in it, separated by height: an N gauge layout intended to be viewed from a seated height and an OO gauge layout intended to be viewed from a standing height. The shed is 7.5 x 2.7 meters in internal dimensions. I have not started work on the layouts yet as the shed has not been fully decorated/fitted out.

I have posted about both planned layouts on another forum, but I thought that it might be useful to acquire fresh insight from the N gauge specialists on this forum. Apologies to those who are members of both and will have seen this before. The plan that I show here is an evolution of an original plan refined with feedback and consideration over several months.

Having decided to use Peco Bullhead track for the OO gauge layout, and also that I really need to wait until the slips and crossings are available in that range before working on the OO gauge layout (they are due in late 2018/early 2019), I thought it prudent to work on the N gauge layout first.

The latest version of the basic plan is as follows:



For reference, all the track in shades of blue and green is fiddle yard track; white is main line scenic track and red represents scenic sidings/yards.

The setting is the Western Region in 1989. As with the name, the layout's setting is intended to be a portmanteau of Didcot and Oxford, with a four track mainline on the up side (left) and a two track mainline on the down side (right). Most local trains from the London direction will terminate. There is also a small branch on the down side, intended to represent the Bicester branch at Oxford.

As this is a fictional portmanteau location, we imagine that the GWML branches off a little way beyond the station (and perhaps that the line was four track all the way to this point in the pre-Beeching era, the line reserved for the branch perhaps once being part of the main line), and the Cotswold line a little way beyond that.

Services will include regular HSTs and locomotive hauled Intercity services to Bristol/South Wales on the GWML, hourly Network Express trains from London terminating at Oxcott (except for a few trains in the peaks continuing on to Banbury), half hourly local services from Reading, bi-hourly local services to Bicester (possibly with peak time through services to/from Reading, although I cannot see these mentioned in my summer 1989 BR timetable), ~hourly (irregular) local services to Banbury, ~hourly (irregular) cross-country services, a few services a day direct from London to Hereford, ~hourly (irregular) local services along the Cotswold line, some mail traffic and regular coal trains (and possibly container trains, too).

I intend the layout to be DCC and computer controlled, running to a timetable (I have built a small test layout to evaluate how best to set up the hardware and software for this; that evaluation remains ongoing). I have already acquired some stock (including three Intercity and Inter-City Dapol HST sets and quite a few Farish 47s and NSE Mk. 1s, as well as some 101/121s - I do wish that somebody would produce an N gauge class 117).

I initially intended simply to use Peco code 55 track (as shown in the above track plan). However, having built the test layout using this, I have found it to be very unsatisfactory. Its appearance is poor (admittedly, the test layout is unballasted), looking like an N gauge model rather than an actual railway, and I find it very difficult to work with the track on account of the weird practice of burying the rail in the sleeper webbing.

I have spent a long time considering what, if any, alternative is preferable, especially as I have no experience in building points. One possibility that I considered was 2mm finescale. There is somebody (a Keith Armes, whom I believe has a very good reputation) who will, for a price, build points in 2mm finescale to various specifications. The plain track from the 2mm Society is, from what I understand, easy to build, and it looks good. However, using 2mm finescale track would involve re-wheeling every item of rolling stock and having hand-built points in the extensive fiddleyards, which might be a bit excessive.

The other option is fiNetraX. Initially, this did not seem very promising, as only bullhead track is currently available. One possibility might be to mix this with 2mm finescale plain track with concrete sleepers (which N gauge stock can navigate without difficulty), although having different widths for the plain track and the points might look a bit odd. I did check with Mr. Armes whether he might build points to N gauge standards - his reply was that he might possibly do so, but only if he had enough time, as 2mm finescale work is his priority, so that leaves this way of doing things rather uncertain.

I now note that British Finescale is planning to release concrete sleeper/flat bottom track and turnouts in the (fairly?) near future. Unfortunately, there are no immediate plans to release turnouts with flat bottom track and wooden sleepers as were prevalent in the 1980s on the main line (I note the bullhead track in the yards):

Didcot station by James Petts, on Flickr

I have posted on the fiNetraX thread inquiring whether painting the sleepers in the forthcoming concrete sleeper turnouts might produce an acceptable appearance.

One advantage of using either 2mm finescale or fiNetraX over the Peco track is that it permits more realistic large radii of points. A version of the above track plan taking advantage of fiNetraX geometry in the scenic sections is here:



One thing that I have been planning to do for a while is buy a single sample fiNetraX turnout kit and jigs and try building that to see whether it is within my capability, although I am a little reluctant to do that before I am able to work in my shed, as I do not really want to do any serious filing in my study.

Somewhat ironically, having initially decided on building the N gauge layout first in view of the current unavailability of the track that I am after for the OO gauge layout, I am now possibly in the position of also having to wait for a track product to be released for this layout, too. Whether this will be rendered moot by the time that  it takes for my shed to be fully fitted out remains to be seen.

In any event, any comments on the track plan and/or choice of track would be most welcome.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2018, 05:33:02 PM by jamespetts, Reason: Adding information to title »

Online Webbo

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Re: Oxcott
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2018, 06:21:18 AM »
James, fulfilling this plan and an OO gauge layout as well is going to keep you busy for some time as I'm sure you well appreciate.

Before giving up on Peco 55, I would try painting a test section of track (rail and sleepers) and ballasting it as well. I've seen some examples of Peco track (and Kato as well) treated this way that look mighty good.

Webbo

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Re: Oxcott
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2018, 06:57:11 AM »
Was thinking the same thing. Going down the 2FS route on a layout that size is going to be a lot of work, and that's not even vectoring the 00 layout into the equation!
Vision over visibility. Bono, U2.

Offline Train Waiting

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Re: Oxcott
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2018, 09:18:04 AM »
James, fulfilling this plan and an OO gauge layout as well is going to keep you busy for some time as I'm sure you well appreciate.

Before giving up on Peco 55, I would try painting a test section of track (rail and sleepers) and ballasting it as well. I've seen some examples of Peco track (and Kato as well) treated this way that look mighty good.

Webbo
Was thinking the same thing. Going down the 2FS route on a layout that size is going to be a lot of work, and that's not even vectoring the 00 layout into the equation!
Hello James

I think the above quotes are important.  I think your 2mm project is impressive (just look at these hidden sidings!) and will be a splendid main line in miniature.  And, of course, there would be a lot of concrete sleeper p way to be seen in 1989.  I have a bit of experience in building points (in P4, not in our scale) and it is satisfying but time consuming.  If you stick to British 'N' gauge, at least your extensive hidden track could be Peco Code 55.

With careful work, Peco Code 55 can look amazing - please have a look at the magnificent Wrenton thread.  As Webbo suggests, you might find that Code 55 track is just the thing.  And, as both concrete and wooden sleepered types are available, you could have concrete on the main lines and wooden sleepers in your sidings and byways of the scenic section.

Bealman's point is worth repeating; as you are going to be building two substantial two layouts, you are going to have a lot of work anyway.  Therefore, it might be helpful to see if you can find a way to use the excellent Peco Code 55 track, at least in the off-stage area.

I think this is a great project and wish you all the success in the world with it.

With best wishes.

John
'Why does the Disney Castle work so well?  Because it borrows from reality without ever slipping into it.'

(Acknowledgement: John Goodall Esq, Architectural Editor, 'Country Life'.)

The Table-Top Railway is an attempt to create, in British 'N' gauge,  a 'semi-scenic' railway in the old-fashioned style, reminiscent of the layouts of the 1920s to the 1950s.

Offline jamespetts

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Re: Oxcott
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2018, 12:01:25 PM »
Thank you for your thoughts. I had had largely similar thoughts about 2mm finescale - having it in the large fiddle yards and re-wheeling all of the stock may be somewhat excessive. (The only slight complication with that is the ability to have points made by a third party in 2mm finescale that may well not be possible in N). That really leaves either Peco or fiNetraX, the latter of which has the various conundrums outlined above.

In relation to Peco, can anyone recommend any online photographs of this track ballasted and painted to look very good? I still think that it is probably worth me at least trying to build a fiNetraX point - I am told that the process is really quite easy in view of the cast frog/crossing, but I should try it myself before committing to it.

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Re: Oxcott
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2018, 12:59:05 PM »
'Why does the Disney Castle work so well?  Because it borrows from reality without ever slipping into it.'

(Acknowledgement: John Goodall Esq, Architectural Editor, 'Country Life'.)

The Table-Top Railway is an attempt to create, in British 'N' gauge,  a 'semi-scenic' railway in the old-fashioned style, reminiscent of the layouts of the 1920s to the 1950s.

Offline jamespetts

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Re: Oxcott
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2018, 01:18:16 PM »
That is a lovely layout - but, even when dressed that well, I am still not convinced by the appearance of code 55 rail - the paint and ballast, even well applied as in the Wrenton example, does not entirely hide the dubious rail height.

Offline jamespetts

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Re: Oxcott
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2018, 06:18:42 PM »
I have been spending some time lately investigating automation software, and reached the provisional conclusion that Triancontroller Gold is likely to be the most suitable system, JMRI lacking the timetabling features necessary for robust operation (and scripting an entire timetabling function being impractical).

Looking into Traincontroller in more detail and what people have been able to achieve with it, it seems that it is quite possible to change locomotives in the fiddle yards. Being able to do this would allow me to alter the design to eliminate the reversing loops. This, in turn, allows for a larger fiddle yard with fewer conflicting movements and more storage space.

For comparison, here is a slightly revised version of the layout as originally posted, with the road now correctly scaled:



whereas here is the version with the reversing loops removed and the enlarged fiddle yard:



The design with reversing loops had a total of 18 long fiddle yard storage roads plus 9 short dedicated DMU storage roads. The new design has 27 long fiddle yard storage roads, 13 short dedicated DMU storage roads, 16 dedicated extra short locomotive roads, and one road that can be used either for DMUs or locomotives.

The main and relief lines on the quad track side now have a separate set of storage roads to each other (although 5 long storage roads, those shown in bright green on the left hand side, are shared), reducing conflicting movements, and through running in both directions and from both main and relief lines remains possible for fully circular operation (as in running-in, testing, etc.). Freight trains with open wagons (i.e., coal and aggregates trains) have paths to allow them to circle in only one direction to permit having an identical set of empty and full wagons of each type.

As a result of the removal of the reversing loops, the scenic area has been able to be extended slightly at the ends, allowing for slightly longer carriage sidings at both sides of the layout and a few centimetres more of scenic running.

The large space at the back that would have had town scenery has been reduced, but this is not a problem, as I was unsure how to fill this, and I can now simply use much low relief scenery: there is still room for the multi-storey car park that I am keen on having.

I should be interested in anyone's views on this revised version, especially as to whether there are any operating issues that are apparent to anyone that I may not have spotted.

In relation to the track situation, I note with interest that British Finescale is planning to release by the end of the year flatbottom turnouts in code 40 whose sleepers do not have a distinctive concrete profile, so can be painted to give the appearance of wood, as well as releasing in the quite near future concrete sleepered plain flexible track. Subject to testing the turnouts for ease of construction, this is looking the most promising at present for the track to use in the scenic area.

Offline jamespetts

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Re: Oxcott
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2018, 09:28:37 PM »
Some more slight revision:



I have removed a redundant crossover from the fiddle yard, tidied the front of the baseboards somewhat, added more road to the right hand side of the layout together with a bridge, adjusted the size to take account of the measured dimensions of the shed (it is a few cm longer inside than on the plans), and modified the sidings to the left to make them longer and a little more flowing, taking advantage of the slight change in position of the road.

I have also altered the branch fiddle yard to allow long freight trains such as that depicted here to use the branch: the short passenger trains will use the dedicated branch fiddle yard as before, but the long freight trains will be re-routed into the main fiddle yard by a new crossover.

Offline jamespetts

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Re: Oxcott
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2018, 05:50:37 PM »
Having spoken to the people from whom I have sought a quote for making the baseboards, I now have at least a rough idea of where the board joints are likely to need to go and how wide that they will be. I have thus revised the layout to try to accommodate this by trying to avoid having point motors positioned over the board joint width. I have marked the board joints including their width on the plan in grey as shown here:



I have also taken the opportunity to redesign the carriage siding and locomotive stabling area somewhat, and have shown the carriage sidings now in orange instead of yellow to make it clearer where they are.

Further, I have made some slight amendments to the fiddle yards to create three new short train sidings on the right hand side in place of some areas formerly dedicated to locomotives and multiple units, which are intended to be used to house short sleeper trains (1 class 47, two mk. 3 sleepers, one mk. 2 mini-buffet and one mk. 1 BG) as in reality ran between Poole and Glasgow/Edinburgh in this period so as to take advantage of the recently announced Dapol mk. 3 sleeping carriages.

I should be grateful for any comments on whether the redesigned carriage sidings are an improvement, and, in particular, whether I have left enough clearance for the point motors in the vicinity of the board joints.

Offline jamespetts

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Re: Oxcott [Thames valley 1989/Network SouthEast]
« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2018, 05:40:31 PM »
I have added some details of where the point motors and uncouplers might be located:



For these purposes, I have assumed that I will be using Cobolt IP point motors (although I have not made a final decision as to that yet; but they have many recommendations and I have the dimensions), and that it is possible to offset them considerably and with some flexibility (as implied here, albeit without detail).

I should be interested in any feedback as to whether the point motor positions are likely to be workable and also whether any issue with the uncoupler positions are likely. I have kept most uncouplers as passive uncouplers using permanent magnets, but I need four roads in the fiddle yards for freight trains with open wagons where there will be pairs of identical rakes of wagons, one full and one empty, each half of which pair will always traverse the layout in the same direction, but the locomotive of which will traverse the layout in alternate directions, hence needing the uncouplers to be able to allow both coupling and uncoupling at the same point, something not needed elsewhere.

I am not entirely sure whether I need active (i.e. servo-mounted or electromagnetic) uncouplers here, or whether I can simply use small rare earth permanent magnets and push back somewhat when coupling (and then run forward a little and set back again) to prevent the locomotive from being over the magnets when coupling. This would require a slightly shorter train than the maximum that could be accommodated using electromagnets or servos, but I suspect that the difference would be only one wagon and that the difference would be worthwhile to save on wiring.

If anyone has any experience of this arrangement and whether it works well automated, I should be most interested to find out.

Incidentally, middle click and open the .png in a new window to see the detail fully.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2018, 05:41:32 PM by jamespetts, Reason: Errors and omissions »

Offline Tank

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Re: Oxcott [Thames valley 1989/Network SouthEast]
« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2018, 09:12:48 PM »
I look forward to seeing this one coming along.  :) :thumbsup:

Offline jamespetts

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Re: Oxcott [Thames valley 1989/Network SouthEast]
« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2018, 12:23:12 AM »
While I await the completion of the interior of my shed, building the layout cannot yet commence, but further planning and rolling stock accumulation can occur.

Firstly, on the subject of rolling stock, I have acquired three complete HST sets, one of which can be seen running on the MRC's test tracks:







Air conditioned Mark 2 carriages are a slight difficulty, as the good quality new ones are not likely to be out for at least a year, so I have been accumulating and modifying some older Farish types, adding NEM pockets, replacing the wheels and adding Electra Rail Graphics transfers (only to the one carriage so far, after a few failed attempts):





They are a definite improvement on the untreated Poole era carriages:



I still have quite a number to complete:



Having seen some pictures of "Doncaster Enterprise" at Reading and Oxford in 1989 and having found a bargain secondhand example of the Farish model of this at Hattons, I have added this to the collection:



And also some freightliner wagons, again secondhand old (Poole era) Farish:





Some other Class 47s have been renumbered, including 47613 "North Star" (from 47612 "Titan"):







And also 47573 "The London STANDARD" (from "Great Eastern"):



Changing the colour of the front panel from black to yellow was quite a challenge and some of the imperfections in this work can be seen close up, but are not really noticeable at normal viewing distances:



There are also DMUs - I have a number of 101s awaiting renumbering and other cosmetic work, but I have added NSE flashes to this Dapol 121:





I also acquired a Dapol class 122 to convert into a 128 using a 3d print, but I am not sure whether I will proceed with that now that RevolutioN trains have announced a ready to run class 128, so here is the class 122 running on the MRC's "Lacey Dale" layout using that layout's JMRI powered automation:





I am waiting with some anticipation for the Dapol class 50s, whose release is said to be imminent, and am planning to acquire one of the "Fifty Fund"'s limited edition locomotives (to re-number/re-name to Ajax, as "Defiance" was in Railfreight livery hauling china clay in Cornwall in 1989), two of the other blue/grey (one to re-name to "Centurion" keeping its base number and the other to re-number/re-name to "Hood") and two in original NSE ("Illustrius" to remain as supplied and a further to be re-numbered/re-named as "Indomitable", which my spotting books record that I saw several times in the late 1980s).

***

In terms of detailed planning, I have calculated that I have a total of 27 fiddle yard roads for long trains, 3 for short trains, 14 for locomotives, and 14 for multiple units (not including the branch fiddle yard).

Layout operation will be automated, and locomotive hauled trains will automatically change locomotives in the fiddle yard to increase running variety and remove the need for reversing loops while still ensuring that a train that disappears into the up fiddle yard does not re-emerge again from the down fiddle yard, and only ever head in the one direction.

The layout is intended to be a portmanteau of Oxford and Didcot both in name and services, which is reflected in the below.

Of the 27 long roads, four will be dedicated to open wagon freight, two for coal and two for aggregates, as these will work unidirectionally: one rake of coal wagons (full) will always head up, and one identical rake (empty) will always head down, and likewise with aggregates. These require dedicated roads because the uncouplers need to be in different positions and also (possibly) to be able to be turned on and off (to allow a different locomotive to re-attach itself to the same end of the train from which the first was detached), possibly using the Kadee electromagnetic uncouplers.

For the multiple units, I have plans for the use of 7 of the 14 slots, being a mix of class 101 and 121s for the Network SouthEast stopping services to Reading and Banbury, a single class 121 for the branch, plus a class 150/0 and 108 for the Provincial services to Worcester and Great Malvern. I might add an extra 150/2, since I have recently found photographic evidence that these were used on the Oxford to Great Malvern services in 1989, increasing the utilisation to 8; and an additional 101/121 combination for the Reading/Banbury services to add variety, increasing utilisation to 9 of 14. The remaining slots can remain spare/unallocated pending future DMU releases, such as the 128 and any possible 117 from another manufacturer in the future (or alternatively if I ever manage to get a scratch/kit built example).

For the 3 short roads, these are to be used exclusively for the Poole to Glasgow/Edinburgh sleeping services consisting of a Class 47 and four carriages (two mk. 3 sleeping carriages, a mk.2 buffet and mk. 1 BG), three sidings being needed as the trains do not cross in the station, thus there will be two with uncouplers set for trains arriving from the down line and one with uncouplers set for trains arriving from the up line, as the trains would cross north of Oxford in reality.

For the 23 long roads not dedicated to freight open wagon freight, 3 would be used for HST sets (for GWML services as well as the one a day Hereford service that was run by an HST in 1989), 4 for Network Express services (I may well have 5 rakes for this, but at least one would almost always be in the carriage sidings), 1 for a GWML locomotive hauled train (class 47 and 6 mk2s), 2 for the London inter-regional (Paddington-Birmingham, Paddington-Wolverhampton, Paddington-York, Paddington-Manchester) services with class 50s and mk.2s, either InterCity or NSE, one TPO rake, two cross-country rakes (class 47 and 9 air conditioned mk. 2s with a mark 1 RMB and BG) two parcels rakes, one local parcels rake (perhaps a class 31 with two GUVs until I can obtain a 128 one way or another; obtaining the 128 may then free a long slot), one freightliner rake (class 47 + the Farish container flats), one petroleum train (class 37, possibly double-headed, plus ~10-12 TEA tankers) and one military freight train with an RFD class 47 and ~17 vans of various types, this using the down branch, but connecting to the main fiddle yard.

Given that I need to have two spares (one for the up and one for the down) to prevent gridlock, this leaves 2 unallocated. I may well have to use those 2 to increase the number of Paddington - inter-regional rakes, since the services going further than Wolverhampton seem to have catering vehicles whereas the ones going no further than Wolverhampton seemed not to have these.

The plan is, for all the Network SouthEast services to keep full track of the rakes of carriages and locomotives so as to have a realistic turnaround rate. By this, I mean that, given that the journey to London takes 1 hour, that the service is hourly, and that there would be slack built into the timetables at either end at which carriages waited in carriage sidings, at least 4 different rakes would have to operate the service in any one day, and this is not counting the peaktime services. Thus, a set of carriages which has departed for London should not return from London until it has had time to reach London, wait in the carriage sidings while another train forms the next departure, and then returned to our fictional station an hour away. The same would apply to the stopping services to Reading (a half hourly frequency with an hour's journey time) and Banbury (a 2 hourly service with a half hour journey time). This may not be possible to achieve fully on full consideration of the real timetable (a great many services started from Oxford/Banbury of a morning - I am not sure that I can even fit all those into the carriage sidings, which will only accommodate two 9 carriage trains), but it would be good at least to get close.

For the InterCity services, at least two rakes are needed for each service pattern to avoid seeing the exact same carriages almost immediately returning from whence they came or, worse, running more than once in the same direction before coming back, but because of the greater journey time and variety of these services, it is not possible to keep full track of these, and likewise the freight services (the MGR trains will have to be considered to be essentially fungible - one would have to look very closely indeed to see any differences in any event, especially if all the wagons are red cradle HAAs). However, variety can be given by automatic swapping of the locomotives in the fiddle yard so that at least a train with the same rake of carriages looks as if it might be a different train because it has a different locomotive.

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Re: Oxcott [Thames valley 1989/Network SouthEast]
« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2018, 01:34:29 AM »
looking prototypical already
blue / grey era diesels / electrics and suitable stock

Offline jamespetts

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Re: Oxcott [Thames valley 1989/Network SouthEast]
« Reply #14 on: October 11, 2018, 12:40:31 AM »
Researching the timetable a little more, it seems that no fewer than 8 9 carriages sets of Network Express stock (i.e. NSE mark 1s and early mark 2s) would have been required to work the weekday diagrammed Paddington-Oxford/Hereford/Banbury through services (excluding the Cathedrals Express, which was an HST). (I have asked a question about how the trains would have been stabled in Oxford in reality here in case anyone can assist with this). There were 8 consecutive up departures before the first down arrival (and there would have been no time for balancing ECS workings either).

This may be a little difficult to accommodate (I had hitherto planned on only 5 such sets - the Farish mk. 1s in NSE livery are now sold out everywhere, although there are good stocks of the NSE mk. 2As), and fiddleyard space may be a little tight: it might be able to be done if the locomotive fuel train can fit into one of the fiddle yard roads set aside for DMUs, suitably provided for with uncoupling facilities, but this would limit options for changes later (and requires removal of the aggregates traffic, although I had planned to abandon the idea of having this in any event as this traffic seems not to have gone via either Didcot or Oxford with any regularity, but rather used the line towards Westbury). Also, there is currently space for only 5 sets to be stabled in the carriage sidings (assuming that one of them is an 8 carriage set: there was an 8 carriage blue/grey mk. 1 set running on these services in 1989, so this should in principle work) in the currently planned layout.

I am quite keen on having at least the services that are part of a diagram in which at least some services terminate at "Oxcott" to have fully tracked rolling stock (i.e., for any given set of carriages that has departed towards London to return only from the London direction and after enough time has passed for it actually to have got to its destination and back with appropriate turnaround time), although inevitably other services (such as freight workings and through Inter-City/INTERCITY workings) will have to be somewhat fungible in their coaching stock as I cannot use my neighbour's entire garden as a fiddle yard.

Quite what to do about this I have yet to decide - some further consideration of the question will be required.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2018, 01:00:03 AM by jamespetts, Reason: Remedying omission »

 

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