"Kickback Quarry" by Iain Climie

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Kickback Quarry © Iain Climie

A popular small space subject in GB and Europe is the small branch line, light railway or narrow gauge terminus, serving a small town or large village. A typical example is shown above (ignoring the heavy broken line). Entry from the hidden area is often under a road over-bridge, with a scenic block along the long siding to the left e.g. a bank, trees, buildings.

Traffic is light, with domestic and rail coal in, agricultural produce and livestock out, passengers, parcels and occasional other items going both ways. The Western end of the run-round loop is within the hidden area itself, allowing a sector plate or similar to be used. It’s very quaint, but could easily reach limits of operation and interest quite quickly, for builder, exhibition operator and audiences at exhibitions. So consider the effects of a quarry (or possibly factory or other plant) opening somewhere to the NW after the station has been built. An extension now comes in as shown by the broken line, and operating potential could increase significantly.

Firstly, the separate line may use its own stock, including workmen’s carriages as well as mineral wagons.

Secondly, there will be significant extra traffic to a quarry, including explosives, occasional coal wagons and other supplies.

Thirdly, unravelling a fairly long loaded train from the quarry (to allow it to proceed back along the branch line) could take some time, particularly if other sidings are occupied.

Fourthly, there will be far more scope for mixed trains of carriages (including main company and workmen’s coaches) and wagons.

Lastly, additional equipment such as signals, would now become a requirement, not just an optional extra.

To be fair, I don’t know whether this set up is prototypically realistic, and it is only intended to be a starting point for thought; considerations of scale and size are left to the reader. The layout itself could be very compact (e.g. in H09) or stretched considerably if space permitted.

The junction of the mineral extension is a little contrived (for space reasons), so would need some sort of geographical justification e.g. a hill or river. Yet it does seem to allow much more varied operation, perhaps in a little more space. My hope is that such a scheme could increase public interest in small layouts at exhibitions, and bring new recruits (especially younger ones) into the hobby.

Possible train movements on this layout include:

  • normal passenger services in and out,
  • empty stone wagons to quarry,
  • full stone wagons from quarry,
  • workmen’s carriages between quarry and station (some in place at start),
  • workmen’s carriage(s) to and from main station,
  • empty quarry wagons to station from rest of world,
  • full quarry wagons to rest of world,
  • van or similar to and from quarry,
  • livestock in and out,
  • other agri-produce (including wood) in and out,
  • coal in for domestic and railway use,
  • empty coal wagons out and
  • explosives and other supplies to quarry with empty van(s) in return – specialist wagon may be needed for explosives.

Plenty there to keep an operator or two busy!

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