South Downs Railway

Modern Image, Computer Controlled

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About South Downs Railway

About the website

The purpose of this site is twofold. It describes the railway, for the interest of others. It also acts as my main "index" into the design and implementation information for the railway.

This railway will take a long time to come to fruition. The progress section provides periodic updates on where we are with it, what is happening, what problems are being addressed etc.
The Design section describes how the railway was conceived and planned. A computer CAD design tool has been used extensively. This has enabled not only a good design to be made - reducing changes later in implementation - but also captures documentation that will be needed for ongoing maintenance.

The Construction section describes how the railway is being implemented. The Chief Civil Engineer has been busy; substantial work has been needed to arrive at a stable trackbed. This may be of interest to other modellers, and again acts to provide documentation to support future maintenance.

The track laying and wiring section describes what for many is the "interesting" part: turning a pile of timber into a running railway. This covers the process of installing the track and connecting to it. The details of how it is controlled is in the next section.

The Chief Control engineer decided that the railway would be operated on a semi- automatic basis. Information about how this is achieved, and the electronics used to achieve it, is described in the Control section.

The Chief Mechanical Engineer will have a relatively easy job: he will purchase his engines & stock "off the shelf". The rolling stock section will describe the stable, and the DCC installations needed to make them available for use.

The Operations Director describes in the "Operations" section how the railway is used.
Finally, a page listing some of the suppliers and materials used. This is more of an aide memoire than anything else, but may help others in their quest!

We are aware of a South Downs Light Railway which has its own website. We have no connection to that railway.

what is the South Downs Railway?

This site describes the South Downs Railway: a fictitious model railway set in the South Downs area of Southern England. It operates modern image era but is not intended to be representative of any real railway, or any realistic train operations. It has been created purely for personal entertainment.

A space of approximately 15 x 10 feet was available; to accommodate a reasonable amount of track and stock, "N" gauge was chosen as the design scale. Being a "techie" it was an obvious starting point that the railway would be DCC controlled.

Why modern image? The rolling stock is readily available, and my children recognise it. A DMU with 3 carriages tends to be better value that a steam loco with 2 carriages. But I'm not slavish to the image: the main station will still have a turntable - simply because I like the idea of them.
Why the South Downs? Well, that's where we live; the railway isn't intended to be real but the names are well known locally.

The railway has several features:

A long double track main line, with hidden and visible sections. each line is approximately 5 scale kilometers in length.

The line is a continuous run, allowing trains to run uninterrupted for longish periods.

  • A 10 track fiddle yard, giving opportunity to store several trains. There are also "passing places" around the railway.
  • Two return loops, allowing trains to change direction and back again.
  • A "through" station, with a terminus platform.
  • A small station with three platforms. the current design question is whether one of these should allow goods operation.
  • A large terminus station with goods facilities.
  • An oil depot, allowing oil trains to arrive and depart.

The railway has been designed around the concept of semi-automatic operation. It is intended to have computer control of main-line operations, with either automated or manual operation of major terminus areas. The main line and fiddle yard will normally be automatically controlled. Trains can be run into the stations and oil depot and back out from them, again under automatic control. The operator will need to prepare trains for departure in those areas, and can elect to drive a train manually through the layout. This isn't for everyone; but it is how I want my railway to be.

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