The new Welsh Highland Railway is a real main line in narrow gauge, utilising the immense power of South African Beyer-Garratts and 350hp diesels. When you couple these beasts of engines with rolling stock of the highest quality and comfort and add in breathtaking views of mountains, lakes, rivers etc. the new WHR is simply wonderful. If you have not yet visited, or indeed have yet to experience the glorious Aberglaslyn Pass and the ice cream shop in Beddgelert (!), then do make it your new year’s resolution to visit this year!
My model of Rhyd Ddu is an attempt to recreate the feel of the new WHR amongst the barren but beautiful scenery close to the summit of the line. Rhyd Ddu is a small village station, the terminus during construction of the final part of the line and is now a key passing place some 640 feet above sea level. It is surrounded on all sides by mountains, with Snowdon towering above it and on a clear day you can just make out a SMR train ascending the peak! The east side of the station was used as a
construction base and features ballast stores, the container shed of the tamper
and two sidings plus a headshunt. This gives the layout some shunting possibilities alongside the passing of passenger trains.
009 was my chosen scale as it allowed the trains to be part of the landscape, rather than the layout be dominated just by track. Even so, despite a layout floorplan of some 15 x 8 feet, it has been necessary to significantly reduce the length of the platform and the track between the reverse curves and the station. The idea is that the model is a sample of the station which people should recognise as Rhyd Ddu, not an exact scale model. However many visits to the site and literally 1,000s of digital photos were taken to try and get as many details right as possible.
The layout uses MRC’s excellent DCC control system (sold as Gaugemaster in the UK) alongside a Lenz points decoder powering Tortoise slow-action motors and loco decoders mostly from ZTC.
This demonstrates the flexibility of the standards used in DCC – using multiple manufacturers’ kit alongside each other. The diesel locomotive Castell Caernarfon is fitted with an ESU sound decoder and a ‘similar’ sound has been sourced, although it is not
The layout is meant to be fun – it’s a train set after all!