The Prototype

The track plan is not based on any prototype track arrangements per se, but has it's roots in typical prototype operations using a lot of selective compression. After reading many articles, books, and forum posts and threads I have devised the plans below with much influence from the designing for realistic operations angle.

As stated earlier, this plan has been in the works for over two years, having originally created a plan based on local operations in the New Orleans, LA and south Louisiana area that included many features and operations that I have chosen to omit on the current plan. Having relocated to the Raleigh, North Carolina area in January 2006, mainly due to Hurricane Katrina, I have had to be a bit more creative in my overall operations plan since there are no Kansas City Southern (KCS) tracks near this area.

I have decided to keep the Southern and Norfolk Southern (NS) railroads as the main feature for operations on this layout, as there are many NS lines currently in use in this area. CSX is also a major player here, but at this time I have not considered it for inclusion. I have decided to eliminate the KCS as originally thought for through freight and off site running and have decided to turn my focus to the Norfolk and Western (N&W) since this railroad makes up the other half of the current NS. I will also have Amtrak passenger traffic moving between two stations as well there will be simulated off site activity. I will also have Southern passenger traffic mixed into different operating sessions.

The Era ~ The complete merger of the Norfolk Southern from paper signing to complete conversion took about 8 years; Norfolk Southern Corp. was created as a new holding company to acquire Norfolk & Western Railway and Southern Railway, effected June 1, 1982. Full merger effected was on Dec. 31, 1990, as N&W became a subsidiary of Southern, and Southern changed its name to Norfolk Southern Railway. So you could say I model that 8+ year time frame from 1982 to 1990. I also have to think that once the complete merger was effected in 1990 all the Southern and N&W equipment did not disappear or change paint schemes overnight. Heck, I still see some Southern and N&W rolling stock on NS consists here in North Carolina today. So in closing, I model the Piedmont Division of the Southern and Norfolk Southern on November 2, or minus 20 years, heh!

Specifically I model the time period from 1982 to present day considering a little history of the merger era of the Southern Railway and Norfolk and Western that formed the modern day Norfolk Southern that I mentioned above. The way I have come to justify how I run my railroad as far as era is concerned has been distilled in my North American Freight Cars ~ A report on the prototype blog post dated January 11, 2008, and is based on an article I found in the September 2007 issue of the Railway Age periodical.

Norfolk Southern

I am researching the Norfolk Southern track arrangements in the Piedmont Division with a very nice acquisition of NS track charts dated 2003, with thanks to Robbman from the forum.

Track Chart Sample - PDF

Click on the sample to the right, it is of page 1 from the Piedmont Division Danville District Greensboro-Cary track chart, and this page exhibits mile markers H0 through H5. The entire chart renders trackage rights from Greensboro, NC to Raleigh, NC to Cary, NC. This particular track chart features the H-Line and covers a total distance of 130 miles of NS trackage rights. The complete track chart for this section of the Piedmont Division is 28 pages, and by comparison the entire Piedmont Division encompasses a total of 53 track charts.

Each track chart contains documentation for seven main elements that relate to the placement of the track as it traverses each mile as represented on the chart. The elements include:

  • Maintenance - Track Class (CLASS 1 Track, CLASS 2 Track, etc.)
  • Rail - Single or Double Mains designated
  • Traffic Density Management - N/S or E/W traffic flows
  • Track Layout - Line Segments, diverting tracks, signals, bridges, crossings, etc.
  • Curvature, Alignment, Elevation - right or left turnouts, sidings, turnout number
  • Freight Speed Tangent Curve - MPH speed limits
  • Grade - listed in percents + or -

So why is this information so important? If you are really interested the nitty gritty in-depth information on the Piedmont Division of the Norfolk Southern, click In search of the prototype - a basis for modeling! a blog post dated November 16th, 2007 and follow along the tracks with me.

Rail Fan Reports

Friday, November 28, 2008 ~ Last year I donated a dollar a day to the local PBS television station WUNC-TV here in the Raleigh/Durham area and as a part of the drive I got some free gifts from the Scenic Railroads television show as well as 4 free tickets to ride on the excursion train at the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad (GSMRR) in Bryson City, NC. So in September we planned a trip to the Smoky's for the Thanksgiving Holidays. We arrived at the GSMRR Friday morning around 8:45am in preparation for our 10:30am departure. Check-in was at 9:15am, so this gave us some time to walk around and capture some images, once we checked in and got our tickets at the depot counter we enjoyed a visit at the train museum and shop. Read more....

Saturday, April 12, 2008 ~ While on vacation with the family in Colorado we were driving back from Snow Mountain and Sombrero Stables after a very peaceful sleigh ride with hot cocoa and a campfire. On the drive south through Fraser Valley on Hwy 40 between Tabernash and Fraser, CO I spotted the single main line tracks of the Moffat Route of the old Denver & Rio Grande (D&RG) and there she was, a unit coal consist with 2 lead prime movers, 2 in the middle and 1 on the end. While continuing to drive I instructed Benjamin to get my Canon Digital Rebel from the Jansport backpack and start shooting some photos. He took just over 22 of them and I have posted them all in the April 2008 page for your viewing pleasure. I have also added about 20 of them to the Blog header rotation in a cropped format.

For a map view of the area see the Denver & Rio Grande web page.

Rail and Flange Greaser

December 8, 2007 ~ Added some images from a short rail fan outing on the CSX line in Wake Forest, this is a preview of the rail and flange lube device (click image at left to enlarge). You can view all five of the images of the rail and flange greaser in addition to the layout progress photos on the December 2007 page.


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