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A community of freight dogs?

1047 Views 9 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  ozwarrior
Hi Guys,

As a comparative newbie to the "scene" it seems to me that more people concentrate on the freight aspects of modelling than that of passenger operations.

I've visited a couple of shows in the past few weeks, incidentally the only two I've ever been to, and It dawned on me that I didn't actually see a single layout that wasn't predominately freight. Sure a few of them had passenger platforms but normally tucked away at the end of the display.

Which got me thinking; why is this?

Obviously the majority of us will only ever of had 'real' exposure to the passenger side, is it the pursuit of something other than the norm that's influencing us?

I'd be interested in hearing peoples thoughts.

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QUOTE (Avionyx @ 16 Nov 2007, 12:36) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>..It dawned on me that I didn't actually see a single layout that wasn't predominately freight ..
Freight is the raison d'etre of historical railway development. On most systems it was, and on many likely will continue to be, the dominant source of traffic and revenue. In this respect it's pretty much what has ensured the survival of many railway systems against competition from road and air transport in the developed world.

And there's just something about a freight train...
QUOTE (34C @ 16 Nov 2007, 12:51) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>And there's just something about a freight train...

Got to agree there - although the traffic through the part of Belgium that St.Laurent is based on is largely freight if I had my choice I would run mostly freight. As it is we run about 50/50.
Freight allows shunting . Traditionally wagons are smaller than coaches .Most layouts are too small ever to feature carriage sidings , so for most modellers passenger trains are just something that runs as a block unit , while freight trains are things you can play about with.

In the US , passenger trains almost disappeared 40 years ago, so modellers can largely ignore their existance. In Britain , people build branch line termini and run one freight train for every passenger , ignoring the fact the real things typically had 5-8 passenger round trips a day , plus one pick up goods

Operational interest is the big issue. There are ways to get operating interest out of passenger trains, but its always been easier not to get your head round the issue and just to focus on freight.

It's the traditional standard argument against post steam layouts in Britain : "there's no local pickup goods so its boring" . And much British D+E is very strongly influenced by US modelling - hence the obsession with Type5 freight diesels and lack of DMUs. The railway is 70% passenger, but many folk seem to be trying to blank the fact out.

And in fact many passenger train operations do not lend themselves to DC , so they are never modelled. Ever seen a pilot loco backing down on the train to double head on a layout? Or a banker coupling on? Or the station pilot adding or removing coaches? Or a train dividing in a station? All possible with DCC - but we've got out of the idea.

Come to that we don't see the real freight flows of the steam age modelled. Most of rthe ton/miles were actually generated by 80 wagon trains on main lines moving trunk flows between big yards , where the wagons would be re-sorted and sent out on the next stage of the journey. You never see a marshalling yard , even a tiny one , on a british layout (though they are meat and drink to the Yanks)
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Personally i like to see the thundering passenger trains. grand expresses all nice and clean.

The one major exception to freight being the predominate money-spinner was the Southern Railway or BR Southern Region as it became in 1948. Most of its money came from passenger carrying, particularly commuters into South London. Hence the quick spread of electrified lines, particularly to your part of England.
Freight was there - particularly cross-channel traffic which came across on ferries and which was then sorted out for other parts of the country. So Hither Green and other places were often the centre of dispatch or receipt of cross-London traffic by various routes, involving 'foreign' locos. There was also local freight traffic including farm produce. The main bulk traffic was coal from the Kent coal field but this was moved generally over shorter distances than in other parts of the UK - chalk & cement was another bulk product which went further afield.

I personally prefer the passenger side of things and have ended up building an imaginary 'preserved' railway where the major traffic is passenger with the occasional 'demonstration' freight. This sort of model also allows me to run virtually any sort of loco or rolling stock from any part of the UK without fear of the criticism 'That loco never worked with that sort of train'.

John Webb
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I must admit that just recently there seems to have been a plethora of hidden fiddle yard to viewing fiddle yard layouts. Now it may be my imagination but these all seem to be utilising sound fitted 20/37/66 which meams you are getting a lot of noise and not much movement on too many layouts.

Give me a 5/6 coach train in the scenery interspersed with slow and fast freights and I'll sit there and watch all day.

QUOTE (pedromorgan @ 16 Nov 2007, 13:36) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Personally i like to see the thundering passenger trains. grand expresses all nice and clean.
Hurrah for that! I couldn't agree more whether it is the Orient Express and a furious firey express locomotive devouring the kilometres or the scream of a TGV as it bowls over the fields of France or a modern day EuroCity snaking and swishing through the Alps with just the glint of sunlight on the panorama coach windows...

Although I would say the rattle and screech of a nice heavy intermodal or iron ore train is a pleasing contrast to all that refinement, the deafening sound as one rolls through a station and never seems to end...

Yes space would appear to be an issue but then who runs prototypical length freight trains??!! Even a doubled TGV is only 16 coaches and four locomotives...and 40 to 80 bogie tank wagons or intermodals or iron ore hoppers are how long? Perhaps there is just a more freight in Europe but I find the space argument specious!
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I think the thing about freight is that it is a LOCO hauling , shunting or marshalling stock far more interesting operationally to many people than a passenger train stopping and starting again but that isn't to say that there aren't a good few layouts about which predominantly Feature passenger working there are a number of very good layouts which feature Southern electrics a number which feature DMU operations and plenty around which feature a good mixture of both
Some good points being made here.
I think also the magazines rarely seem to feature mainline passenger particularly in 00. Space is probably the main drawback; if you have a large layout it is also harder to scenic up to the standards that the mags or exhibitions seem to require. It wouldn't bother me though.
I suppose a layout that featured DMU's/railcars doing suburban or branch work could be made interesting from a timetabling point of view

PS I like passenger and freight equally.
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