Part 1 serves as an introduction to passenger train operations.
About this creation
This five part primer is based on a presentation delivered at Brickfest 2006 (Washington D.C.). It serves as an introduction to passenger train operations using L-gauge trains. This presentation (and primer) would not have been possible without the work and/or photographs from the following talented builders:
Why think about operations?:
L-gauge trains have become increasingly more sophisticated over the past 5 to 10 years as building techniques have advanced. These advances would not be possible without the accompanying technological innovations of internet sites, digital photography, and CAD software, all of which allow builders to disseminate their work to a global audience. For example, as seen in the photograph above, the coach on the left designed in 2000 is meant to represent an Orient Express car, however after perusing the CAD work of James Mathis online, a more accurate representation (designed in 2004) is seen on the right. Ultimately, L-gauge trains are no longer exclusively seen as a toy, but gradually gaining acceptance in the larger model railroading world; witness the participation of LTCs in the NMRA conventions since 2005.
In addition to the trains, scenery has also become more sophisticated. A typical state-of-the-art house from the 1980s is seen above. Compare this to the rowhouse built in 2003 seen below, which features drainpipes, bars in the windows, curtains, chain-link fences, air conditioner, weeds, etc.
A substantial aspect of the hobby of model railroading is about creating worlds in miniature. Now having the ability to create more realistic trains and scenery than ever before, the next step in realism is to operate the trains in a manner that reflects the prototype.
What are Operations?:
Operations can be defined as…operating trains in a realistic environment consisting of tracks and structures based on the prototype with movements of trains based on prototype railroads.
Why passenger trains (as opposed to freight)?
Passenger trains provide for a more simple set-up, basically a station and its tracks. Operating passenger trains also provides for more train activity than most industries as a busy station creates more activity in a given space than almost any freight train operation. Passenger trains also have a ready connection with audiences as most people relate more closely to passenger trains as they have ridden on them.
The following photographs will hopefully allow you to jettison your stereotypes about passenger trains; they do have a great deal of variety as passenger trains come in many different forms and they do not have to be static, unchanging consists.
The classic passenger trains in most people's minds are the streamliners from the glory days of railroading. This photograph depicts a Santa Fe passenger train (1950s); the B-units, the first baggage car, and the dome car are custom built, while the remainder of the train is comprised of stock sets. Although the train looks stunning (kudos to TLC and James Mathis), its length makes it impractical for most home layouts.
A more practical train, albeit more humble, is the local train consisting of a engine and a few cars. This photograph depicts a short Amtrak local. The F40PH engine is based on the work of Christoph Eisenring and Bob Hayes, the baggage car is a modified Santa Fe baggage car set, and the two coaches are from the Metroliner set.
Another alternative is modeling commuter or mass transit trains. Above is a subway built by J.F. Collaco (Modified sets 4855). (I will place a VRE commuter train photo courtesy of Constantine Hannaher here sometime in the future...)
If one still likes modeling freight trains, a mixed train is a nice option. Such trains typically were branchline trains consisting of a single locomotive, a coach or combine, and several freight cars, and possibly a caboose. The freight cars were switched are various industries as the train progressed along its route. The photograph above features a diesel built by J.F. Collaco, and the flatbed with transformer is a custom kit designed and produced by Larry Pieniazek (www.miltontrainworks.com).
Railbuses and RDCs take up less space than other passenger trains, but their potential for operations in terms of adding and subtracting cars from a train is limited or non-existent. The photograph above depicts a DRG&W Galloping Goose, which is a modified custom kit from Steven Chuck (http://www.bricklink.com/store.asp?p=schuck).
Finally, passenger trains can be fixed consists, but this has very limited operating capability. The above photograph depicts the Pioneer Zephyr (1934); the prototype is currently preserved in Chicago, Illinois.