Samstag, 16. September 2017

Planning update: PUCHSTEIN is born

UPDATE 2 March 2018: Puchstein will not be built. I still like the concept (a lot), but I have ultimately switched to a new layout: WREDE, a small terminus in the North-West of Germany.

The original entry:

It has been very quiet around here. But lately not on my planning desk. Months of exploration of ideas have finally led to a concrete theme and plan for the new layout. I refer to it as “Plan 56a” which shows a bit the struggle (read: fun) in coming up with a final theme and plan.

I considered three options:
  1. An industrial layout as Valkenveld inspired by the former Distelweg line in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, set in the mid 1960s;
  2. An Austrian-based, ÖBB serviced layout set in the suburbs of Vienna, inspired by stations like Simmering Ostbahn or Donaukaibahnhof;
  3. A terminus at a single track ÖBB line in Lower Austria/Styria, inspired by lines like the Neubergerbahn, Gutensteinerbahn or Schneebergbahn, set in the late 1980s, early 1990s.

The first theme was tempting but felt like “more of the same”, especially when I keep my Valkenveld Inglenook layout in operation. The second would have provided great freight switching opportunities in an urban setting. But all plans felt very “squeezed” and unnatural on my available 250 cm layout length. The third, however, would provide the potential for passenger and freight operations following a real timetable in a scenery very familiar to me from my childhood.

So option three it is. But which prototype to follow? Ultimately I have chosen for "proto-freelancing", a concept where one does not replicate an exact prototype, but instead tries to capture the atmosphere and essence of a station or line that could actually exist in reality. This offers the opportunity to add elements one particular likes rather than strictly sticking to one, particular prototype station.

The name for the new layout is similarly "proto-freelanced": PUCHSTEIN is a mix of the stations Gutenstein and Puchberg am Schneeberg.

One of the images that resembles the spirit of my to be built Puchstein is this shot of Neuberg an der Mürz, taken in 1981:

Busy times in Neuberg an der Mürz, Austria on 21 May 1981. GmP Z 72055 (freight train with passenger service) has just arrived from Mürzzuschlag. The unusually high weight of 250t and a train length of 190m made it necessary for locomotive 2062.48 to support the regular 2060.77. In the background sits DMU 5044.21 of trains 2985/2984. The track in extension of the freight train engines leads to the saw mill of the “Österreichische Bundesforste”, on the other end the line reaches after about 12k Mürzzuschlag on the Südbahn. Source: Schienenverkehr Aktuell, image by Mr. Leirer

Here all comes together:

  •        A single track line terminus
  •        Quite extensive freight traffic
  •        Passenger service with DMU’s
  •        A mix of many different locomotive types
  •        Set in a mountainous, typical Austrian scenery

I still have original timetables from Neuberg in the 1980s, so could operate according to a real-life time-table. My line to Puchstein would, however, see more freight traffic than the Neubergerbahn with also heavier locomotives, like the 2143 series. In my imagination the line has a couple of industrial clients to serve, very similar to the real situation along the Gutensteinerbahn and Schneebergbahn.

Timetable from the same year as the above image: ÖBB line 53 from Mürzzuschlag to Neuberg, winter 1981/1982, including the GmP, a “Güterzug mit Personenbeförderung”.

Puchstein track plan (No. 56a)

Three stations in Lower Austria and Styria formed the inspiration for the track plan: Türnitz, Neuberg and Kernhof.

Rough scenery plan of Puchstein.
When some freight cars arrived too late in Mürzzuschlag they were added to the passenger service. Something that would be great to feature on the layout. DMU 5044.22 and 2060.67 in Neuberg on 23 April 1981. Source: Schienenverkehr Aktuell
The same train as it arrives in Neuberg, 23 April 1981.

It’s all over for the line from Mürzzuschlag to Neuberg. On 30 December 2009, my brother and I were looking at the beautiful Neuberg station building and the sad state of the overgrown tracks. More on flickr.

A grand building for a small station, due to the fact that Emperor Franz Joseph traveled in style to his hunting grounds in the area.

Apart from the line from Mürzzuschlag to Neuberg I draw inspiration for atmosphere, scenery and operations from the two lines not far to the North, the Schneebergbahn ending in Puchberg am Schneeberg and the Gutensteinerbahn ending in, yes, Gutenstein. Both lines are still going strong with freight trains serving industries along the line and hourly passenger trains.

Still going strong. 2143.051-7 ready for departure in Gutenstein on 16 August 2016. More of the Gutensteinerbahn on flickr
Overview of the lines to Gutenstein and Schneeberg in 1897. The Neubergerbahn is situated a bit to the South of these lines.
An idea of the atmosphere of the layout to be built.

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