I realize there are a lot of questions in the following text, but ya gotta start somewheres!
Most of my modeling is related to Canadian and US prototypes. I am what is called a "freelancer".
Basically, you set up a railroad with your own name, and use all kinds excuses (many very sensible) and run whatever you wish.
I am new to the forum and basically joined to get proper info on British railways.
My father was a signalbox operator at Lostock Hall on the LMSR until we emigrated to Canada in 1957.
I follow the thought that you model what you grew up with. Since I prowled the signalbox as kid (I never could understand how he knew which telephone was ringing) and yard back then, my first love is steam.
But, in Canada I grew up with diesels, so they rank pretty close to steam.
I am not what we call a rivet counter and run locomotives just because I like them or because I like their paint scheme. As a freelancer you can get away with this.
Two things are still a little hard to understand when you are used to modeling Canadian/US prototypes: the goods yard and privatized railways.
First, most North American layouts are freight based. The intensity of passenger train operation as in the UK did not exist here.
From the books I have, the simple idea is that the goods yard was the place were all freight was delivered, and then distributed, or picked up by customers
Plus you would have to incorporate some kind of passenger working into the layout.
My wife and I toured the UK in 1998. Boy, what a shock. Lostock Hall was a big overgrown field. Loved all the "pink" wagons (faded OBA's?), 80 mph from Holyhead to Bath behind a Class 37 with no lights in the passenger cars when you went through a tunnel. The joy of being on a HST as another load of people get on as their train had failed. Overall, as a model rail I loved it. Not so she who must be obeyed!
We also spend a lot of traveling on the bus, which had its advantages.
Now, the fun.
As a background, in North America, each railroad owns the right of way, the buildiings, the locos, cars, everything. They may lease equipment when needed.
So, we are in Manchester and I get talking to the fellow at the tourist booth. I let him know I am a model "railroader".
He precedes to tell that one company owns the tracks, a company or county or city or society may own the station, another company owns the locos and leases then to a railway or the railway owns the locomotives, freight wagons are owned by private companies, and a thing called a TOC runs the passenger trains!!
Anyway, I did some research and found that Thatcher had decided to make all the government owned industries into smaller components as an attempt to get more investment from the private sector.
Thus all of British Rail was sold off as smaller component companies such as Transrail, Loadhaul and Mainline. Unfortunately, an American understood that the total revenue pool was not big enough to support the competition from three railways, and bought them out to form EWS.
From what I can figure out, the competition did result as evidenced the formation GBRf, Freightliner, (an original post BR company?) Direct Rail, Corus, and others I cannot recall. The passenger trains didn't seem to be as successful to me. In 1998 we heard all kinds of complaints from people. Some of the TOC's lost their franchises. To me they had a "captive audience". How do the regional carriers compete if they are the only operator of a certain line?
My favourite passenger story is thus: in Manchester we went to the station (I don't think it is there anymore) by the hostel/YMCA/some museum/Duke 76 pub . We were going to Manchester Central(?). We couldn't figure out how to work the ticket machine. So someone told us to get on the train and get a ticket from the conductor, but not to worry as we probably wouldn't be asked.
So, we take the railcar and I swear the operator shifted the transmission as we accelerated!!
We never did get asked for a ticket.
The biggest failure was the right of way. When privatization first happened, the government indicated that the right of way may not be a good investment. They even warned invesoers that if the system was renationalized, only the initial investment would be bought out, not any accrued value. As it turned out, when Railtrack was taken back by the Labour govenment, they did allow the accured value.
Initially, the Big Four were nationalized as the Labour party saw the railway as a "social necessity" and due to the projected massive amounts of money necessary to rebuild the rail system, especially the track.
I gather the same situation exists today as evidenced by take over of Railtrack by the Labour government.
Now to the fun stuff. I have a lot of Essery, Larkin and the like books, so I think I can do a 1945 to 1947 LMS layout. Pretty restrictive, I know.
Remember the freelancer idea. I love the 4F, 8F, Black Fives, Crabs, Stanier 2-6-2T's and Jinty's (I remember these last two from being kid) as well as LNER J39's. So the idea is to have a connecting line were LMS and LNER would interchange.
Freight cars would be vans, opens and mineral wagons. I once read an article in Railway Modeller were the author said that to accurately replicate a coal operation, you would need 300 coal wagons. Ohhkay. I build Parkside Dundas, Slaters, Ratio and Cambrian kits for this era. I plan on purchasing some RTR to get the wagon fleet bigger faster. So, what manufacturer has prototypes to match late LMS/LNER operation? After reading one of Iain Rice's book I am note sure how accurate some RTR models are.
What I don't have any idea about is the correct infrastructure. Lostock Hall wold have been part of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. So, who makes signal boxes, goods sheds et al of this prototype railway?
Or, what would be a close replica of the L&Y structures?
Now it is impossible to freelance British Rail.
I wanted to do a modern northwest rail operation. After some reading and conversing with some British modellers, a Preston location in 1998 would be a Transrail stronghold with Rfd and Freighliner container trains running from Crewe Basford Hall to Garston, Liverpool. Also RfD ran the Connectrail service through Preston, but I don't know what the consist of any train would be. Res before the EWS buyout was also in the area.
Any locomotive would have to be numbered or "diagrammed" for this area. I like the Transrail paint scheme, but you couldn't run a Class 58 as they had none. Did the Class 60 make it to this area? I know they had Class 37's. But how about Class 31 in the area? If you do a loco in the Civil Engineers Dutch livery, did they exist at this time in this location?
Also, is it due to TOPS that no matter who owned a certain locomotive it always had the same number? A BR blue 37083 is a Sectoriization 37083 is a LoadHaul 37083. So who is controlling the locomotives and where they are stationed?
Also, is a trip working a locomotivie going to an industry to pick up or drop off some freight cars, and then take them back to the yard? From there trains are made up and "diagrammed" to go to a certain location? I always thought it odd that in photos from magazines and books, a 1750 hp Co-Co Class 37 would be pulling one or two cars and then on the next page an entire train.
Now lastly, my wife and I will be in London in early June for six days. Any suggestions for a hobby store that a tourist (who won't take his wife) can find easily?
Isn't this hobby fun?