Thursday, May 9, 2013

Narrowing Focus

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm heavily leaning towards the multi-pass design. That's not final, but I think it's the easiest way to ensure a relatively longish run on a single level layout in my given space and minimize the hidden trackage. Since this would be freelanced, I started going about the types of industries I'd want to represent on the layout. I've usually been focusing my efforts in research on the eastern portion of Conrail. That area is really dominated by chemicals and intermodal (and auto distribution) customers. There are a concentrated pockets of other important customers, like grain/food in Delaware and South Jersey, but by and large, that was the heavy traffic coming into the Philly/NYC area of Conrail.

A few weeks ago, when the configuration was presented to me, I was still holding out hope of doing the Harrisburg Line. The more I looked at the operations, however, the more I realized I would either have to a) severely compress the line or b) add more operation and traffic then existed or even exists today on this portion of Conrail's system. Because I was holding onto the idea of a single track line with industrial support, I started looking at other areas of Conrail that had decent traffic. I hadn't realized it but the Indianapolis Line between Berea and Galion, Oh., is single track. It doesn't have many largeish industries or decent yards. One could proceed into Cleveland, but then that would introduce the Chicago, Buffalo, and Cleveland lines into the equation with possible need for staging, etc. I went a little further west and thought about centering the layout on Marion, Oh. I went to the Rail BBQ there a few years ago when the CRHS held it at Marion Union Station, however, I felt that there might not be enough industry on either side of it to really work not to mention intermodal traffic diverted to Columbus at Galion. I haven't completely ruled it out, but I kind of left that area and started to explore other areas.

So the next course of action was to download appropriate ZTS documents from the Multimodalways archive. I really started exploring the areas from Columbus up through Cleveland then back down towards Pittsburgh which was a mix of the Indianapolis and Pittsburgh divisions. The thing that jumped out at me was all the various parts of the auto industry and also the number plants tied to the steel industry as well. To me, that felt like the Conrail that had a nice, big, industrial presence and really moved the goods in and out. This research actually brought me to the Ft. Wayne Line between Alliance and Crestline, Oh. Anything heading towards Indianapolis or Columbus used this line as a shortcut, thus avoiding Cleveland. This included Mail-3 and other TV/Mail trains. It also supported a number of signature industries like Rubbermaid, Smuckers, Step2, and GM in the area as well as the Republic Steel plants in and around Canton. It also had interchanges with the W&LE as well as the Ashland Railway. What this section lacked, however, was a single classificat-type yard. In fact, it really had two smaller, industrial support yards, one in Mansfield and one in Canton, both generating locals out to the various industries in the area.

While I'm not actively pursing this more, at the moment, the research has led me to look at incorporating the two major players of steel and the auto industry into any future layout. One, they are traffic consumers and generators, being switched multiple times a day. Two, other then intermodal traffic, those two areas were big money makers for Conrail and to really only represent them as perhaps overhead traffic I think would be wrong. So add them to the list of focus areas for the layout plan in addition to intermodal operations. With that, I started doodling, but I'll put that in another post shortly.

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Welcome to the my Conrail Model Railroad site. I will document the research, design, construction and operations of my N-scale model railroad based on Conrail's Ft. Wayne Line in Ohio.

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