Monday, 5 April 2021

Layout design and philosophy


For those who were expecting another post on Wagga Wagga  station painting?  Sorry. Painting is progressing, and whilst I am making good progress, I can only spend so much time on the workbench, before my concentration gives out, and mistakes happen.


So, in the meantime, I have reworked my layout sketches

3801 excursion train approaches Junee April 5, 2021 after spending Easter running shuttles out of Albury.  Photographed just before sunset.

Wagga – A layout designed for operation


It may be of interest when you are viewing my trackplan sketch, to know some of the philosophy behind the design.

One needs to have a proper idea of what you want in a layout, and design it for that purpose.   I have based the operation on real railway practices.  The layout does not have a long mainline, and running trains in scenery has taken a back seat to my interests of signalling, and shunting.  Mainline passenger operations are simple. Having a mix of industries in Wagga, and up to Tumbarumba should allow trains with a purpose.  The industries are REAL – nothing is made up, although the 1970 timeframe is stretched a bit to incorporate industries that were established later, for instance - 1971 (Tooths) and 1974 (Barnes cannery)   This is where research is really coming into its own

My proposed layout is prototypically based on Wagga, so in some ways, I already have limits on what I can do, and can reference the Southern Region working timetable.  But, it also has a need for 7 operators, and it will be operated very much along the lines of a USA layout operation if people are familiar with those..  Staging yards will have already formed trains.  Some trains will simply run from one staging yard to the other.  Some goods trains will need to drop, and collect wagons in Wagga’s goods siding loops, to be shuffled to the 13 industry sidings, in the Wagga yard area with an X200 shunter.  Bomen station will allow mainline goods trains some shunting.  Local passenger train to Tumbarumba is normally a CPH.  Goods trains to Tumbarumba are trains that will be made up in the Wagga yard track, but the branchline can generate goods traffic that has destinations for on-line sidings on the layout.  The Wagga signal box will be manned, and control the train movements on the visible portion of the layout.  A “train control” position  (dispatcher) is responsible for ensuring trains enter, and leave  the layout from/to staging, by assigning drivers.  This will keep trains moving.  A CCTV system is available to the train drivers so they can watch their trains entering, or leaving the staging yards.  Once a train has entered the staging yard, I do not expect it to re-appear in the operating session – although the train controller has full access to the staging yards, and  can shuffle a train from one staging yard back to the other using the “X” factor layout design I am employing

The branchline is quite long, and engine drivers will be able to shunt trains and wagons as needed.  Point control on the branch is with wire in tube from the fascia – so eliminating complex electronics on the branch.  The main Wagga station area points and signals are  electrically controlled from the level frame, with simple wires going to tortoise motors (or servos still thinking about it).  The only DCC selectable complex electronics is for the route selection of the staging yards, and that is assigned during an operating session by the dispatcher, not the driver.  The dispatcher will also have a manual green/red signal for the train drivers prior to them entering the hidden staging.

Room size – 9 metres x 6 metres – although there is an kitchenette and ensuite also within this area

Walk around control for all trains. Wireless an option, but lots of wired facia panels

Big width aisles, with short pinch points only. – but we will see

Double deck, with stations on the upper level staggered to not be directly over the lower level stations.

Shelf width only, apart from the Wagga yard – limits the scenery task to basically between the fence line

Radius of 24” (60cm) on the branch, and sidings  28” (70cm) on the main. 

Probably will use NCE DCC.  Only a few locos will be sound equipped – most will be non-sound DCC or sound turned off, as I find sound to be annoying in a room if more than 2 trains  have noise makers.

Reseting the staging yards is via the “x: factor design” and will probably take just an hour. But that will also test almost all the locos needed for the operation session

The big concern with my design is access to  the hidden staging if there is a fault/derailment -particularly as I will not have more than around 15cm of clearance below the Bomen yard.  Am considering a fold up hinge for the entire Bomen station area, although that complicates the trackwork joins, and electrics



1) Barracks building.

Barracks, as restored on the railtrail

2) 60’ Turntable. Scratchbuilt Manual table, awaiting detailing and painting

3) Goods shed and 5 ton crane.  Models have been made

4) Station building. 

5) sawmill. 

Image supplied by Mark Pottie
6) Potato Shed.

Potato shed in the background. Photo by Graham Pegg

7) stock yards

Humula.  NB Trackplan not yet finalised – I may flip the station, and loading bank

8) stock yards

Remains of stockyard - 2020

9) Perway shed.

Last train - 1974

10) Toilet block and lamp room

11) Loading bank – used for local timber mill etc

ARHS tour 1965 shows station. G.Lillico picture

12) station building

13) Signal box

1980 - 5 years after abandonment

14) Scooter's bridge – relocated from near Ladysmith – similar bridges near Humula


15) Goods shed

16) station building shed and water tank

17) stock yards


18) Station building

19) Signal box – (similar to the one at Tarcutta)

20) Toilet block and lamp room

21) Goods shed

21a) SM cottage 

21B) Perway shed

22) Silo – part constructed

23) Kyeamba Creek bridges – built

Wagga Wagga

24) Boral

25) Esso depot

26) Tooths depot

27) Shell depot

28) Caltex depot

29) 60’ turntable – I have an Antons60 foot table

30) Barracks

31) Goods shed and crane

32) loading bank

33) Murrumbidgee Milling company

I have more recent pictures, but may have to base my model on this early one, as the present size of the mill building is huge

34) Wagga Wagga station – under construction

35) SM residence

36) Signal box – made

37) Cottage and old gate keeper cottage

38) Best Street bridge

39) and 39a)  Footbridge

40) BP depot

41) Hardys Timber siding

42) Wagga gasworks

43) Speed-e-gas depot

44) Trucking yards stock loading bank

45) Urana Street crossing, and Kapooka road bridge (to act as a tunnel portal)

52) Murrumbidgee River Bridge – 2 spans constructed – viaduct flexible to fit available space

53) Gatekeeper cottage

Tony Macillwan picture.

54) Edward Street level crossing

55) Docker street level crossing

56) 56 lever frame – 1/10 scale – Part built


46) Wagga Abattoir, and stockyards

Site of former siding

Shunting the abbatoir siding

47) Barnes Cannery

Tracks in concrete still visible behind the gate

48) Station building and signal box – scratchbuilt.

49) Level crossing and SM residence – residence built

50) Hollanders leather works

1990 aerial image of the Leather works

Siding, and dock. The new shed is on the site of the leatherworks

51) Shepherds Siding silos


54) Scissors crossover – X factor design element – Shinohara acquired

55) 3 metre staging sidings for long trains (eg Southern Aurora)

Final thoughts.

Sorry for the extended post.  But taking inspiration from the prototype adds greatly to the authenticity.  Most of the pictures are those I have taken myself - but without the efforts of others, I would have many gaps.  Thankyou.  

Construction of models for this layout will take a long time.  But having a few already built will speed the layout construction.  And most of the track in my plans is subject to refinement closer to the actual platelaying, so please don't be too critical.

Until next time


  1. Great post Rob. A lot of rail history of Wagga Wagga crammed into one post, as I'm sure will be the case with the layout too! I like the operational aspect in choosing Wagga as the subject matter. Plenty of industries to work as opposed to just watching trains traverse a double tracked mainline which most of us see whenever a Main South layout is mentioned. By building your buildings first, you'll get a much better feel of how they integrate with the trackplan, instead of making them fit into the available space. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thank you Phil. I have in the past been involved with tail chasing layouts, and they have limited appeal for me. You are quite right about building structures now, although this is for me a necessity, as the train room space is still not ready for benchwork.....but more on this in a future posting - getting closer.

  3. Hi Rob, great to see my little bridge agai m. If you want, I'd happily build a couple of other structures for you if you'd like.

  4. I am sorry Scooter, that I couldn't get your bridge in the correct location on the branch, but the ensuite/kitchenette design takes up more space than originally hoped. I hope the alternate position is OK. The pictured bridge is at 583km milepost on the branch (close to Umbango), is essentially a clone of the one near Forest Hill that you modelled. Thank you for your offer to build some more structures - there is a lot of items to choose from. But let me get the benchwork started first.

  5. Perfectly fine with that Rob, I'm just glad to see it being used as intended. All your pics brought back a lot of happy memories railfaning around Wagga, and my own exploring trips on the Tumba branch.