Having decided to build an N Gauge layout the first step was to ask myself a whole load of questions:-
- How big should it be?
- What era do I choose?
- What sort of trains do I want to see?
- How much is all this going to cost??!!
Not being one for extensive researching I stuck with what I know and grew up with – modern diesel/electric express trains and multiple-unit commuter trains. I did make some concessions with regard to era though, as what I grew up with was blue-and-grey everything! Also being a big fan of the HST, aka "Intercity 125", I had always loved the look of the Intercity Swallow livery which suited this train so well, so that set my era as late 80's to early 90's. I am being deliberately vague here as this allows me to move the date either way and therefore run a bigger assortment of stock not otherwise seen together. Incidentally I'm also a fervent supporter of '125 Group' - a group dedicated to ensuring that at least one HST set is run in preservation now that their mainline career has come to an end - in England anyway.
The layout itself had to be big enough to allow a full-length HST to stretch its legs, but not be too unwieldy or complicated to set up, or take up too much room when stored. The longest manageable board-length was set at 6 feet since this will fit vertically through a standard doorway, and the width set at 3 feet to comfortably allow multiple tracks without the end radii being too tight. Two of these boards joined end-to-end make the layout 12 feet long – more than enough to run a scale-length HST at 5' in length. In the interests of keeping it looking realistic the end curves were to be hidden somehow, and to add some height I wanted one track to cross another somewhere. I eventually settled on a fictional section of the East Coast Main Line, with a branch line heading off somewhere.
I downloaded some excellent layout-planning software called Anyrail and got stuck into the planning . . .
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