Sumida Crossing: The Want List

This layout replaced an earlier HO-scale freight layout in my (small) basement. The available space was constrained by fixed appliances, support posts, and shelving, and basically allowed for a 16-foot by 4-foot rectangle in the middle of the room.

To allow for moves, it needed to be divided into sections no more than 6-feet long. In the end, I went with a pair of 4-foot by 2-foot tables for each of the two main scenes (one on each side of a central divider) and two four-foot-square end sections, one of which would be a simple curve with some scenery, and the other would be unsceniced and hidden behind a view-block.

Once I knew what I had to work with, it was time to decide what I could fit in the space. Here’s my original “want list” of features to include in the new layout:

Track and scenery

- A double-track mainline in a loop for continuous running.
- Relatively broad curves, so long passenger cars don’t look unnatural.
- At least two stations, one elevated and one at ground level, with multiple tracks to allow express trains to pass.
- Station capacity for large trains, 10 cars or more (an 11-car Yamanote Line train is one of my favorites).
- A freight branch with a small yard, to serve as a source/terminus of freights on the mainline.
- A second double-track main for Shinkansen or express trains, stopping only at the elevated station, would be nice.
- A mostly subterranean “subway” line, with stations visible through cut-outs in the layout fascia.
- Urban scenery (lots of buildings and roads, maybe an elevated expressway).
- A canal or narrow waterway (Tōkyō has many small rivers and canals, providing drainage and transport).
- A large river crossing, with a truss bridge.
- At least one grade crossing.
- Track that runs through (urban) scenery, not scenery that consists of track.
- A three-dimensional landscape. Parts of Tokyo are flat landfill, but other parts have hills.

Other stuff

- Ability to run both DC and DCC trains. (the more I learn, the less feasible this seems)
- Ability to run multiple (four or more) trains under manual control (on different tracks).
- Ability to have computer control (e.g., to make subway trains stop at stations and reverse).
- Electric switches with DCC control.
- A computerized dispatchers panel.
- Use of Unitrack for simplicity (I originally planned to solder feeders to it for reliability, but haven't).
- A sectional design that can move when I do, with linear scenes that will someday fit an along-the-wall railroad.

That’s a lot to fit into one relatively small oval, and I gave up on a few to make it work. Also, some of the features (like computer control) are more complex and costly than I want or have time to deal with initially. These were planned for, but will not be implemented until later.