Sheerness station today - there used to be a 3rd track between the present 2 for freight trains being shunted into the steel mill's sidings
Ok, here's the deal. I like trains. Not just modelling them but traveling on them too. From the 6 weeks I spent in Japan traveling on the various types of Shinkansen - I especially liked the 700 series - to traveling on the creaking, under funded and neglected British network, I've always enjoyed train travel. That is what has inspired me to model railways.
Now, I only model British railways, and modern traction to boot - specifically the time when Ii was a kid and used to travel to Chatham to school from Sheerness. So that means modelling a period between 1978 and 1983. I do have some flexibility in this regard and so would consider modelling the period from the introduction of EMUs on the Kent coast line in 1959 up to the mid-late 1980s. I have no interest in steam traction, only diesel and electric, though I've got nothing against other people modelling steam layouts. It's just a matter of personal choice. I've also tended to buy models of trains that I've traveled on, where they've been available in RTR. From class 91's through class 43 HST's to class 50's and 73's, I've bought them all where I could. On the freight side, I've got class 47's, 37's, 8's and some kits of class 56's and 60's. On the MU side, I've got a class 101 DMU too.
It doesn't take a genius to see that this is a real mix and match of rolling stock with a number of locomotives that would never have operated together norin the timframe I want and that's left me in a bit of a quandary. That's because lately I've thought that it would be good idea to model a particular area - and that area is Kent, where I live.
I'd also like to have a rail connected container handling facility. Sheerness docks has a container handling facility but it isn't connected to the rail network, although the railway line is only a couple of hundred yards or so from it. I also want an MPD, possibly with some carriage sidings and a loco/EMU cleaning facility, such as is at Gillingham and the Sheerness line has nothing like those sorts of facilities. I also like EMUs, as you can gather from my requirements for an EMU cleaning facility, and want to add as much variety in this area of railway stock if I can, especially the corridor stock that could be seen running back and forth from London to the Kent coast when I was at school. It is one of the main reasons that I have added some variety to the locations serving Sheerness so tjhat i can justify stock that wouldhave been seen running to Victoria, Cannon Street, Charing Cross and London Bridge as well as the trains that used to be seen on the Sheerness line when I was in my teens.
One of the 2 actual container cranes at Sheerness Docks
So, rather than basing my layout on how Sheerness looks today it will be a layout loosely based on Sheerness but with a few what if's? thrown into it and called something along the lines of Sheerport or Sheerhaven. The what if's? will be:-
What if the Sheerness line didn't stop at Sheerness but continued on to Minster, Eastchurch and Leysdown?
What if the level of traffic on the line justified a 2-track, or even 4-track, line?
What if the container facility at Sheerness docks had rail access?
What if there was an important enough destination on the Sheerness line to warrant express traffic hauled by class 73's in a Gatwick Express-like formation?
What if the old line to Sheerness via Cliffe and Hoo that had the rail line terminate at Port Victoria before completing the journey by ferry to Sheerness Pier was kept open to passenger traffic? Also, what if the line had been improved over the years by having a tunnel built under the Medway to replace the ferry service so that trains could travel all the way to Sheerness via this line?
Also, after a suggestion from one of the site forum's members, I've decided to make provision for military traffic. The Isle of Sheppey used to have an RAF airfield at Eastchurch and an army barracks and Royal Navy dockyard at Sheerness. If one of the What Ifs? was to imagine that one, 2 or perhaps all 3 of the military installations were still on the island in some form or other then some military freight traffic could be run on the layout to add operational variety.
I am also considering other things to add to the variety including a quarry somewhere on the island and possibly a cement works with rail access too.
That means the layout should have the following:-
- 2 tracks minimum but preferably 4
- 4 platform station with passing loops at the station if a 2 track plan is used
- Through line to fiddle yard behind backscene to allow for continuous run
- >MPD with carriage sidings and loco cleaning facility
- Container handling facility
- Car train loading facility if space allows
- Scrap and steel trains to be run on the layout
- Military traffic on the branch line
- Fast trains to be powered by class 73 hauled stock
- Slow traffic to be a combination of 4-CEP, 4-CIG, 4-BEP, 4-BIG and 2-HAP's
- All passenger traffic to be in blue, blue/grey or Intercity livery
- All freight to be Rail Express or Railfreight 3-tone grey livery
- Extensive fiddle yard to allow for smooth operation
So that means I've got quite a bit of surplus stock to offload and a lot of EMU's to buy and build to achieve the mix of rolling stock needed to achieve what I'm after.
Now to put together a track plan to achieve all that!
The track plan itself, once put together will be, surprise, surprise on the Track Plan page. The project concept is also being discussed on the site's forum. I've added a link to the forum below should you be interested.