From the beginning, I dropped the idea to operate both railway companies, deciding to focus on only one main carrier. However, I kept the interchange since it is a great hidden industry that can support all kind of traffic. My main inspiration was made up of several junctions in Quebec, mainly a mashup of Allenby in Quebec City and Farnham in the Eastern Townships. Another important inspiration is the junction was Fergus, Ontario, on the Elora Branch (on the CP Bruce Lines).
I've often observed you can find somewhat large industries located near junction. Thus, I thought it would be neat to implement an interchange and a major customer. As presented, the layout would operate almost as the one layout turnout promoted by Lance Mindheim a few years ago.
This small layout could be entirely modelled within a 18" x 80" area, maybe less. It would handle 4 to 5-car long trains and the customer would have 5 different car spots for interest and challenge. Add to that a staging cassette and you are in business.
|A short version|
Meanwhile, I thought to myself if one would like to make the staging cassette, what could be done. First, you can simply scenic the cassette as a part of the layout. It would be neat and give a sense of space. An old depot could be implemented for the sake of visual interest and to geographically link the layout to a specific prototype.
The second idea was simply to boost the layout a little bit. Looking at real interchanges, particularly in Joliette, QC, I decided to make the interchange longer and merging with a passing track. From there, the industry siding was connected. And since space was available, a second opposite siding was installed to take advantage of the runaround. This new customer could be anything, or be an extension of the first one, representing a very large plant receiving and shipping goods by rail.
|A on-steroids version|
Finally, I added another track near the station. I could represent a branchline, a team track, whatever you want. It could be a neat place to stage a local switcher run. On the other hand, it could be entirely omitted.
From an operation standpoint, it can be operated as a single switcher run, serving all the sidings at once. Or one could elect to operate the train in one direction then, during a later session, a train moving on the opposite direction.
For reliability and realism, all switches are Peco code 83 #8. If one was handlaying his own trackwork, I think he could bump this up to #9 or #10 without too much problem. If space is a problem, the more standard #6 could be used though I think the gain is minimal.
As for era or prototype, there is no limitation. I think any railway, industry and era can fit the bill. Personally, if I had to build such a scene, I would make it as generic as I could so I could alter easily the era and prototype to fit my mood. For the sake of planning, I had CP in mind, particularly during the 1960s.