Planning a Layout Part 1 – Geography

Right a new adventure….

Having decided that Norwood Road’s time on the exhibition circuit is coming to an end, it’s time for something new.  I realized that Norwood Road wasn’t the layout that I wanted, so with a totally blank canvas, it’s time to think about what I do want out of a layout.

So, what do I want to get out of a new layout? Well, the geography of such a thing is imported as I already have a raft of rolling stock which I want to use again and again, these mainly being:

  • South West Trains Class 450
  • A 4-CEP and 4-VEP
  • 2 Class 205 Thumpers
  • A Virgin Voyager
  • A FGW Class 150
  • Plus lots of Modern Freight Stock

There is also some stock which is on the horizon that I want to use, such as Class 59 and MJA wagons from Dapol. I would like to have a facility to run stone trains, particularly after I have a cab-ride on a Westbury to Acton Stone Train with DB Cargo 3 years ago (see my main picture).

So,  I need somewhere on the Southern Region with third rail that sees trains from Southern, South West Trains, Cross Country and First Great Western, as well as a modest amount of freight workings.

But features do I want in the layout itself, over than the trains, well, there’s a few things that always attract, or that I want from one:

  1. A Junction of some kind – This is a recent thing really, I have always enjoyed seeing trains going over junctions, and since helping Mike Wild and the Hornby Magazine team with ‘Twelve Trees Junction’ at the Basingstoke show, I would really like a double junction!
  2. A Station with a Bay Platform – Only a couple of through platforms, but I do like bay platforms!
  3. Signalling – You might have figured that I’m quite into signalling, so I want somewhere that has some fairly complex signalling, but not too complex.
  4. Sidings – Either carriage sidings or for freight
  5. Scenic Breaks – Either convenient tunnels or bridges.

So, I went about finding somewhere where all of this happens, well, there is somewhere that I know that fits the bill almost perfectly. Fareham.

Fareham looking North
The View from the end of Platform 1 of Fareham Looking towards Southampton and Eastleigh. (C) Simon Paley 2014

I spent 9 months living on HMS Collingwood in Fareham as part of my training on Network Rail’s Advanced Apprenticeship. As part of that I would return home to High Wycombe on weekends via Fareham Station, and it only has just dawned on me that it would make the perfect layout.

The Prototype

Fareham is on the ‘West Coastway’ Line between Portsmouth & Southampton / Eastleigh.

The Station was opened by the London & South Western Railway (LSWR) in 1841 as part of the Eastleigh to Gosport Line, although this line was only in operation for four days due to instability north of Fareham. The line towards Portsmouth was opened by the LSWR seven years later in 1848. It wasn’t until 1889 that the junction on the Southampton side of the station was installed as part of a single line from Netley. Finally a line from Alton via the Meon Valley was commissioned in 1903.

This lasted until 1953 when the Gosport Branch was closed to traffic, followed by the Alton Branch in 1955. Third Rail Electrification came to the area in May 1990 as part of the West Coastway Electrification.

The Station currently has 3 platforms, with the centre platform, number 2, being a little used bay platform. The line from Portsmouth sweeps around a tight bend at the that end of the station (which imposes a 20mph speed limit throughout the station). It then runs through the station, and then branches out with a pair of lines going to Southampton and a single line (initially double track, but reduces to a single line before Fareham No. 2 Tunnel) heading towards Eastleigh. On the Town side of the area is a set of sidings for Stone Trains from Acton & Westbury.

Nowadays Fareham is quite an important junction and has a number of TOC’s serving it.

  • South West Trains:
    •  Half-hourly Portsmouth – Southampton service (formed of Class 450’s)
    • Hourly Portsmouth – London Waterloo via Basingstoke service (formed of Class 444’s)
  • Southern:
    • Hourly Southampton – Brighton service (formed of Class 377’s)
    • Hourly Southampton – London Victoria service (formed of Class 377’s)
  • Great Western Railway:
    • Hourly Portsmouth to Cardiff / Great Malvern service (formed of either Class 158’s or Class 150’s)
FGW Class 158 at Fareham
First Great Western Class 158 No. 158951 calls at Fareham with a Cardiff service. (C) Simon Paley 2014

As can be seen, Fareham is one of the few station in which you can catch a direct train to London going in either direction from the Station, which is slightly confusing! Although the Up direction is towards Southampton / Eastleigh.

Freight is not rare, but not common, with engineering trains and stone trains being the the most common. There has also been sightings of Cross Country Voyagers at Fareham, presumably on diversions, with the odd charter being seen as well.

In terms of signalling, the signalling in the area is 3 aspect in the station with 2 aspect signalling on the rest of lines, the double junction makes it fairly complex, but not too complex. There are also some shunt signals dotted about. I’ll talk about it in a future blog post.

E810, the Up Platform 3 Starter at Fareham. A Dorman head with junction indicator for routes around the bend to Netley, (C) Simon Paley 2014

All of this meets with my layout requirements and seen as it is quite personal to me, so it will be my dream large exhibition layout in the future.

So there you have it, the new project, you won’t see anything physical for a long time yet, as I haven’t the space to build it yet (although the money and time I do have!), so for the moment I’m using the time to fully design the layout which I will document on this blog.





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