Paul A. Lunn saves the best of his Dra­matic Lines se­ries to last: Scot­land!

Model Rail (UK) - - Contents -

Paul A. Lunn has for­mu­lated lay­out ideas for some of Scot­land’s epic branch lines.

It’s been a fun exercise to in­ves­ti­gate the most spec­tac­u­lar stretches of rail­way in the UK – and just be­yond – but is there any bet­ter place with which to con­clude this ‘Dra­matic Lines’ se­ries than Scot­land? You could ar­gue that al­most ev­ery mile of rail­way north of the ‘Cen­tral Belt’ would qual­ify for ‘dra­matic’ status and so I apol­o­gise for bring­ing you here – and in the next issue – what ap­pears to be ev­ery line in the High­lands. But the rail­ways of Scot­land al­low us to ex­plore a tech­nique that I call ‘for­mat plan­ning’. Lay­outs come in sev­eral ba­sic ar­range­ments – end-to-end, ‘L’ or ‘U’-shaped or the con­tin­u­ous loop, pos­si­bly in­cor­po­rat­ing an op­er­at­ing well. What­ever ar­range­ment you choose, it’s easy to fall into the trap of fill­ing a base­board shape with what­ever can be shoe­horned in. This can of­ten ex­plain some pretty in­con­gru­ous and un­pro­to­typ­i­cal ar­range­ments, such as un­re­al­is­tic curves, un­der-pro­por­tioned sid­ings and loops and a lack of space for key struc­tures. It can also lead to a par­tic­u­lar bone of con­tention, made worse when try­ing to recre­ate a land­scape such as Scot­land, to an ap­pear­ance of track sit­ting on

a base­board rather than cre­at­ing a land­scape through which trains run. They’re all easy mis­takes to make, yet equally as easy to avoid with a dol­lop of fore­thought. In my de­sign clin­ics, there’s one key state­ment that I make: keep an open mind when start­ing a new project. Have a good look at what’s out there and make an in­formed choice be­fore you start to throw lots of time and money at it. Some of my favourite ideas have, at the out­set, seemed a bit on the wild and im­prob­a­ble side, maybe fan­ci­ful, per­haps unique and cer­tainly ven­tur­ing into untested ter­ri­tory. That said, it’s so im­por­tant to con­sider any­thing and ev­ery­thing at the out­set: don’t fo­cus too quickly on one sub­ject – in do­ing so you might blinker your­self from find­ing the best so­lu­tions. Most im­por­tantly, you might be quite sur­prised that your ini­tial idea has been far out­weighed by some­thing con­sid­er­ably bet­ter. Let’s start by iden­ti­fy­ing the best way for­ward.

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