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The Layout

I have spent many days over the past couple of years photographing and viewing trains at the Rochelle Railroad Park in Rochelle, Illinois in the United States.

I am an intermodal railroading fan, so Rochelle was the perfect place for me, with the UP Railroad’s massive Global III intermodal facility just down the road. Unfortunately I am a BNSF fan, so when it came to planning my railroad I decided to change things slightly…my layout therefore features a BNSF intermodal yard near Rochelle…slight abuse of modeller’s licence! ūüôā

Here is a map of Rochelle, Il. showing Global III, the famous Railfan park (which I am unfortunately not modelling) and the S. Caron Road industrial area.

At present my layout consists of five¬†4ft by 2ft modules which contain a small intermodal yard and a small industrial area, and three 3ft x 2ft modules which contain an industrial area and a tunnel, along with two end boards (the one 45″ by 36″ & the other 41″ by 36″) which contain loop tracks, thereby enabling me to have a continuous layout. ¬†So, in total the layout is about 29ft long, in a U shape. ¬†I am currently planning two yards, one a classification yard and the other a staging yard, as well as a loco servicing facility. ¬†The classification yard & loco facility will be on a new 6ft x 2ft extension.

The layout is built around the Bend Track modular system, which is an improvement on the NTrak modular system in that it only has a double main line as opposed to triple, and is double-sided, which makes it a lot more flexible with setup choices. More details on the Bend Track concept can be found on the Bend Track website. ¬†However, as I no longer take my layout out to exhibitions, I’ll be making it more permanent, which means viewing from one side only and tracks across the board joins, for better reliability.


The blue track is at ground level, the brown track is elevated, starting the gradient at the top right hand corner, crossing over the lower track (which is in a tunnel), then going back down to ground level again.  At the summit of the hill there is a single slip & a turnout, which leads to the planned staging yard, classification yard & loco servicing facility, which are all elevated above the other track at the back of the layout.

I am using the Digitrax DCC system, running a Super Chief command station with a DT402 throttle & DT400 throttle as well as two UT4 throttles. I am also using Digitrax BDL168 and BD4 block detectors, along with two CML SIGM20 signal controllers and one Digitrax SE8C signal controller which enables me to have realistic operating signalling and block detection.  For point control I am using four CML Electronics DAC20 stationary decoders as well as two Digitrax DS64 quad stationary decoders

I run Railroad & Co. software enables me to have a layout schematic on a panel on-screen showing the location of all the trains and the status of the turnouts & signals. I am planning on adding transponding hardware so that I can see the actual train number on the schematic as well. In the future it will be used to enable automatic operation of the trains on the mainline thereby enabling me to concentrate on local switching without worrying what is happening on the mainline.

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