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