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Black Diamonds and Beer in N Scale

Modern-era operations-oriented layout based on real regional RR

Despite many changes in modern railroading, there are still a lot of interesting operations on shortlines and regional railroads. One of these regionals is the Reading & Northern (RBMN), which is made up of cast-off lines from Class 1 railroads in east-central Pennsylvania.


But even this regional was a bit too large for the compact space available to my client for an N scale layout, so he created the Schuylkill Haven Railroad (SHRR), a proto-freelanced modern-day shortline inspired by the Reading & Northern and including some of the regional rairload's locations, customers, and operations.


Operations for the SHRR are headquartered at Cressona, on the main running track imagined to be shared with the RBMN. SHRR branch lines connect to St. Clair (site of a large brewery) and Minersville.

Modern era PA model railroad switching layout RBMN

Click image for a larger labeled Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) view in a new window

Major layout elements included Cressona Yard and a couple of branches to serve key customers.  The Schuylkill Haven interchanges with the RBMN within Cressona Yard, with the Norfolk Southern via an imagined connection at Cressona Tower, and with the Shamokin Valley Railroad via connections through staging. These interchanges provide the sources and destinations for the SHRR's industrial traffic.


A single loop staging yard below the benchwork functions as both ends of the line via a short connection (Route B-C, see Schematic below) that allows staged trains to enter Cressona from both directions.


[Although inspired by real locations, neither the layout nor the schematic exactly duplicates any real life map.]


The SHRR layout offers a variety of operating options, including through trains and branch line freights. The Reading & Northern even offers passenger excursion service, so that could also add variety to operating roles.

You can read much more detail on the layout in the Jan/Feb 2010 issue (#5) of Model-Railroad-Hobbyist media-zine, always free for download on the web! The article includes photos of key inspirational scenes from the Reading & Northern that are found on the layout, operating ideas, and more details of the planning process.

N scale switching layout track plan

Whether your layout concept is modern-day or set when steam was King, I'll help you choose the right elements for an engaging and fun layout. Please contact me today and let's get started.

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