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Yamahama - A newbie constructs a somewhat ambitious n-scale layout


MeTheSwede

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MeTheSwede

Sorry, today this will be a wall of text. Layout pictures will have to wait until someting more picture-worthy has been created.

 

 

It's been about 4 months since I started planning for my second layout (and 7 months since I got my first model train). First I spent a lot of time constructing a track plan in the free version of Anyrail. As track and buildings started arriving and I could put stuff together physically pretty much all plans gradually changed. Only now am I getting to a point where I feel reasonably confident that I'm happy with the overall shape of the layout and I can start piecing together foamboard to build my layout on. It's time to move from "prototype" to "layout under construction". And it's time for me to start sharing my progress (or lack of such). I'll start with going back to the situation of November-December and give you some background for the design decisions I've made.

 


At first I really didn't know what I wanted to model. I did know one thing. I wanted to avoid making a layout with trains racing around loops. Lots of model train people (I guess most) are happy with a layout that looks realistic when you zoom in in on something, but totally unrealistic when you zoom out and watch the layout in its entirety. But I want the entirety to make sense. I've been the same ever since I as a kid looked at towns in Lego catalogs back in the 80:ies. I remember thinking:

 

"What where they thinking? A town with no roads leading out of the town? That's silly!"

 

Things like track going around in obvious loops, rivers popping out of nowhere, a hill that looks to have been placed on top of a track in order to make a tunnel or roads with heavy traffic suddenly ending in the middle of nowhere, ruins my suspension of disbelief. Others are happy with this and that's fine, it's just not for me. Things don't have to be hyper realistic (often it's for the best if they aren't) but I want to be able to make everything on my layout to somehow make sense in my head.


I love contemporary Japan and the amount of contemporary Japanese model rolling stock available is enormous. But from an operations standpoint modern passanger traffic is pretty uninteresting and intermodal freight is not better. The classic British or American (or Swedish)  layouts with locomotives hauling a multitude of different types of freight wagons, breaking down and building trains, shunting wagons, picking up and delivering wagons to industries, are so much more interesting from an operational standpoint. Do I want to model this instead? Maybe I could model bygone days in Japan? But it's contemporary Japan I love and I don't really know anything about modeling Showa era Japan.

 


In a couple of videos I heard the phrase "It's your model railroad, do what you want with it" but I couldn't see a way of harmonizing my three different "wants" of interesting operations, contemporary Japan and making sense realism.

 


Then I found the city of Yamahama 山浜.

 


Yamahama is a place little known except among Japanese train enthusiasts. Up to 1976 it was known as Yamamura 山村. Alledgedly to avoid confusion the name was changed. Mura means village, a word that didn't match the ambition of the local leaders and Yamamura is a common surname. JR however, kept the name Yamamura Station.

 

Yamahama can be hard to find on a map, but if you follow the coastline southwards from Nagoya along the western shore of Ise Bay you will eventually find it (or maybe not).

 

Director Sugii of JR Central (JR Toukai) now retired, is generally regarded as the man who put Yamahama on the list of must go places for train enthusiasts. As containerisation of freight traffic had spread all across of Japan it was realised that a piece of Japanese railway history was about to get lost forever. Steam locomotives have been preserved in various places and are sometimes employed to haul passengers on museum railways, but little or no attention is usually given to freight wagons. An organisation for the preservation of old freight rolling stock was formed with Director Sugii at it's head. This was eventually transformed into the Yamahama Tokai Railway, a non-profit organisation that not only restores and maintaines obselete freight rolling stock, but actually operates it. This is made possible by the unpaid work of a large number of entusiasts, many of which are retired JR staff, as well as funds from the prefectures in which the railway operates, sponsorship fom JR Central, the city of Yamahama and various private sponsors, not least Director Sugii himself and what revenues the company itself can generate.   

 

 

 

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MeTheSwede

Since I don't really have a layout to show yet, just provisionally placed houses put in various places and some track that looks awefully much like loops since the hidden sections aren't hidden yet 🙂 , here's instead a schematic representation of the layout. There will probably be more minor tweaks and changes but I don't see any big changes to be likely.

 

 

WbdwqYo.png

 

 

 

There's a double track main line (or quite possibly it's rather two single track mainlines that happen to run in paralell though Yamahama),  I'm not sure.

 

The mainline tracks are coloured green and red in the diagram. There are two hidden staging yards (red background rectangles) that will be placed under liftable hills. The northern staging yard represents Nagoya, whereas the southwards staging so far bears the generic name of "Southern Terminus". The double track forms a hidden loop, i.e. the arrows left and right connected via track along the back of the layout that will be hidden. There's a coastal branchline (dark blue) that traffics Yamamura South Station and then continues out off the layout. The rest of the track is used solely for Yamahama Tokai Railway's local freight operations.

 

There is no freight traffic on the coastal branchline (currently) but it's marked with a blue colour as electrically it connects with the blue tracks of Yamahama Tokai Railway.

 

This is all Tomix track, DC plug and play out of the boxes, no electrical additions and modifications. A total of 24 turnouts (3 double slips, 2 curve turnouts, 1 Y-turnout and 18 regular ones) and 3 train controlers did however create the need of a lot of thinking about how to connect everything. Here is how it works:

 

The "thunder flash icons" shows were the feeder cables from the train controlers are connected. Thus one controler is used for operating on the "green line", one for the "red line", and one for the "blue line". The blue line requires two feeder points due to the kickback siding into the Engine shed, where the current couldn't otherwise reach. The two feeders cables come from a 5533 Universal Switch box. As you can see the blue track is connected to the red track at two points, at a double slip and at a regular point. Whenever those two points are switched using the 5532 point control box to connect red and blue track, a connection to a 5533 universal switch box makes the current turned off at the blue feeder points, preventing any short cut. Thus track 3 of Yamamura Station becomes electrically isolated as the frieght yard becomes electrically connected to the rest of the red line allowing freight trains to enter or leave the yard and connect to the outside world.

 

Simularily the point control box that controls the points connecting the green track 2 and red track 3 at the south end of Yamamura Station is connected to a 5533 Universal Switch Box that cuts the power of the red controler making the red line operated by the controler for the green track whenever that set of points are switched.

 

 

It's possible to operate the yard at the same time as passenger trains traffic the green and red main lines. Here is an example of how the layout can be operated:


The passenger train on the red line leaves for Nagoya parking on Nagoya track 4. A freight train pulled by a JR Central diesel locomotive type DE 10 1000 leaves Nagoya track 3. The freight yard is connected to the mainline allowing the train to reach track 6 arriving from the north side. The brake car is parked on the kickback siding at the north end of track 5 whereas the rest of the cars are dropped off on track 6. The locomotive continues southwards back up on the mainline via the double slip. The locomotive then reverses direction using track 3 to run around the entire yard. It enters the yard once again from the northern side heading for the departure track number 5 picking up the cars there destined for Nagoya. It exits the same way it came and moves on towards Nagoya to drop off the cars on track 3. From there the locomotive can either do a runaround on Nagoya track 4 to couple onto the cars on track 3 from the other side in order to return again from Nagoya at a later time, or the locomotive may proceed on the hidden loop to the Southern Terminus staging to pick up cars there and pull a northbound train arriving at a later time.

 

The points connecting the freight yard to the main line are then switched activating the blue controler again at the same time opening the main line to passenger traffic. The freight yard's shunting engine drives out of the engine shed and contines to pick up cars on track 6. The shunter now travels back and fourth over the yard lead sorting the cars putting cars that are to continue southwards onto track 4, cars destined for the harbour area on track 5 and cars heading for the industries on track 6. One car scheduled for maintainance is put on the siding at the southern end of track 5 or temporarily on track 4 if the siding is hard to reach. The cars destined for the industries are then delivered freeing up track 6 so that the shunter may use track 6 as a runaround reaching track 5 from the southern side. The cars positioned there are then pushed to the harbour area where the cars are placed on the appropriate tracks in the harbour area doing additional shunting there if necessary. The shunter then returns to the yard to move the southbound cars placed on track 4 over to the number 5 departure track. Finally the car with scheduled maintainance is picked up and moved to the engine shed. The shunter is then parked on the other track in the engine shed allowing the driver to investigate what his wife has put in his bento box this day.

 

To traffic the coastal branchline a two car EMD departs track 1 in Nagoya. It follows the mainline stopping at track 2 of Yamamura Station. Now the point box for the points connecting to the red line is switched deactivating the red controler allowing the train to enter the red line. Then the point box for connecting the red and blue lines is also switched deactivating the blue controler allowing the train to reach Yamamura Southern Station using the green controler.
 

The other passenger traffic is very straight forward, just driving an EMT and a DMT back and forth, stopping at the station. Track 1 has a one sided platform and Track 2 and 3 are served by an island platform. All platforms are capable of serving 7 car trains.

 

 

I have considered adding more connections between track 2 and 3 allowing for proper double track operations where trains always depart on the left side, but it's hard to find the room to physically fit all the points and then I need more point controll boxes and more universal switch boxes, making things both more complicated and expensive. I'll probably keep it like this. As I'm writing this I realise I could chose to only put catenary on the green track leaving the read track for my DMU and freight.

 

 

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MeTheSwede

Someone said doing model railroading is great because you get to learn to become a carpenter, an electrician and a metal worker.

 

Sure, it's great to acquire skills, but I didn't take up model railroading in order to learn those crafts and I really don't want to spend a year learning them all before I get to run any trains. Thus my philosophy is to keep stuff simple if at all possible.

 

I did for a while dream about a two level layout with helixes and lower level staging areas until I realised that project was unlikely to ever go from the planing stage to a finished project, atleast not in a reasonable time frame. Thus I'm sticking to building on top of old IKEA furniture and using out of the box Tomix DC stuff.

 

 

 

I found it a bit difficult to find information about how to connect the Tomix products for a complex layout that goes beyond the regular "loops with sidings".

 

I really didn't understand the Tomix 5533 Universal Switch Box until I got to try it. Here follows a quick intro that might benefit others. Those not interested can skip the rest of this post.

 

 

 

FNdtQDV.jpg

 

 

We see a standard Tomix controller, a 5533 Universal Switch Box and then three Point Control Boxes. The cables with white endings are delivering currents to the track (directly or indirectly through a Switch Box), black endings are going to point motors. 

 

The 5533 may be used in various ways, most of which I haven’t tried. Here it’s used to turn off the power to the track from the controller whenever I set a point in such a way that two tracks normally controlled by different controllers are connected, thus avoiding a possible shortcut. The 5533 comes with a plastic piece that is put over the levers of the 5533 and a Point Control Box put next to it. This means I can not change the position of one lever without the other one also being changed. 

 

From an electrical point of view the 5533 is put between the controller and the power feeder to the track. Power comes from the controller to the 5533 and depending on the position of the lever, either the two rightmost exits from the 5533 have power or the two leftmost exits have power. Here I’ve only attached one feeder cable to it.

 

It’s also possible to connect two or more 5533:s in series (one feeding another) in such a way that power won’t reach the track if either of a number of Point Control Box levers are in the wrong position. 

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roadstar_na6

Nice plan and idea, I'm looking forward to see progress 🙂

 

Have you thought about using insulated rail joiners between turnouts instead of the 5533 universal switch boxes?

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MeTheSwede
On 3/14/2021 at 1:14 PM, roadstar_na6 said:

Nice plan and idea, I'm looking forward to see progress 🙂

 

Have you thought about using insulated rail joiners between turnouts instead of the 5533 universal switch boxes?

 

I've been thinking about a lot of things. Haven't yet figured out how that option works.  😅

 

Originally I actually wasn't planning to use more than one train controller on a layout with a single track mainline and I bought 5533 by accident instead of an additional 5532 point control box... Then it turned out to be a good investment.

 

As you see I'm stumbling forwards. 😆

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Jaco3011

The trains from blue sections are unable to arrive/depart from/to green track. That's huge drawback. I also don't see why track 5 has those spurs, unless there are team tracks. If I were you I'd put one on the left end on track 4 and change that double slip turnout on track 3/coast line for a double slip crossover.

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MeTheSwede
On 3/17/2021 at 10:55 PM, Jaco3011 said:

The trains from blue sections are unable to arrive/depart from/to green track. That's huge drawback. I also don't see why track 5 has those spurs, unless there are team tracks. If I were you I'd put one on the left end on track 4 and change that double slip turnout on track 3/coast line for a double slip crossover.

 

Thank you for your input.

 

Freight trains aren't supposed to be on the green line under current plans, although they could get there with a change of train controler after switching the relevant points.

 

The reasons for the spurs are mainly that an earlier now discarded plan required 3 double slips and then changes were made and I got two double slips left over. 😄  They did however found a use as they are parking places for break cars, one for each direction of traffic. The spur on the southern side can also be used when a switcher is accessing track 5 from the southern end in order to push everything on it to the harbor. This means a lower risk of accidentially moving onto the mainline and instead the driver may end up pushing a break car into a bumper. 🙂

 

Me trying to make the station area as long as possible seriously hampers what's possible to do at the southern end of the layout. The blue/red double slip actually performs a dual function, as it's also a part of the curve sending the red line and the coastal branchline in opposite directions dodging my apartment wall. Thus the current configuration is the most economical for space if I want to be able to send a train from track 2 to the coastal line.

 

 

 

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MeTheSwede

Today I assembled signals for the southern island platform end to prevent nasty accidents as the trains aim for the dreaded double slip crossing. 😄

 

 

1453345378_ojI8fBWw.jpglarge.thumb.jpeg.42bc51d9c949f801fb769050a53def47.jpeg

 

 

All those little bits and pieces that comes with the Tomix plattforms, I feel like it will take me forever to get everything finished. I still haven't figured out what all pieces are for. The instructions aren't much of a use. Instead I look at pictures, try to find the relevant pieces and figure out how they go together.

 

My last platform piece (a one sided urban platform B-type) and a third overtrack station arrived this week, so now I can start to see how everything is going to fit together.

 

 

1169737629_0DK0UJrS.jpglarge.thumb.jpeg.7d363454c9a698b0309a0d20ac3a40d5.jpeg

 

(Station photo from the southern side.)

 

 

 

 

 

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Jaco3011

I've never made DC layout with two power supplies, so I don't know how hard it is to connect it at the intersection. If you're going to switch to DCC, it would be very convenient to have double crossovers at both sides.

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The layout is looking very nice Swede.  The blue freight line seems very realistic with japanese opterations, tying into the passenger lines only where necessary.  It's great how fast Japanese roadbed track allows you to get a layout up and running!

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It was pretty common in the old days, just isolated sections of track (you can use a common rail in many plans and only isolate one rail) and then feed power to the sections with dpdt (spdt if common rail) to flip between the two controllers. Very effective, just a lot of wires and switches... 

 

jeff

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Jaco3011
On 3/14/2021 at 12:41 PM, MeTheSwede said:

WbdwqYo.png

 


Btw. how did you draw this track plan? I wanna do one of these too.

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roadstar_na6

Regarding insulated power circles, I have my floor layout with 3 loops and each turnout where you can change to another loop has insulated joiners. When I want to change from one loop to another I just speed match the controllers and have a perfect switch 🙂

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MeTheSwede
32 minutes ago, Jaco3011 said:


Btw. how did you draw this track plan? I wanna do one of these too.

 

It's made in Google Drawings.

 

When logged into Google, go to your Google Drive by clicking the icon with 9 small circles at the top right of any Google page and chosing Drive.

In your Drive, click "New" near the top left of the screen, click "more" and then "Google Drawing".

 

I hadn't used it before for anything serious. I found it very practical for this kind of thing and easy to use. It's all just lines, rectangles and text boxes.

 

If holding down shift while drawing lines it's easy to make 45 degree angles. Holding down shift while moving objects also makes it easier to align stuff.

 

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MeTheSwede
1 hour ago, Jaco3011 said:

I've never made DC layout with two power supplies, so I don't know how hard it is to connect it at the intersection. If you're going to switch to DCC, it would be very convenient to have double crossovers at both sides.

 

I have considered putting a double crossover at the back of the layout, in the hidden part of the loop. The visible parts of the layout hasn't got room for a double crossover.

 

I really should do some decluttering, get on a chair and take a photo of all the track.

 

 

 

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Jaco3011
1 hour ago, MeTheSwede said:

 

I have considered putting a double crossover at the back of the layout, in the hidden part of the loop. The visible parts of the layout hasn't got room for a double crossover.


Even for two pairs of switches allowing train from blue part to go to/from green track? If it was real railway, then trains heading to Nagoya would use green track and would go through those arriving /departing from Yamamura. Passenger trains between Minami-Yamamura and Nagoya could use the eastern (left side) too.

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MeTheSwede
On 3/21/2021 at 8:36 PM, Kiha66 said:

It's great how fast Japanese roadbed track allows you to get a layout up and running!

 

Yeah, it's great!

 

On the other hand, laying down flex track, installing point motors, building your own electric switchboard... I understand some of you here think that is all great fun, but people like me just want to get a layout running.

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MeTheSwede

Time for a couple of photos of my work in progress.

 

1293239140_4v99sW_Z.jpglarge.thumb.jpeg.4b4a2d32378d6eb9e5e3fa91f0f0557c.jpeg

 

Just because it's plug and play doesn't mean I won't have to do some work organisation the electric part of things. 😆

And the points in the staging yards haven't even been wired yet, so there is even more to come. I have a general idea abot how to solve this mess though, so I'm confident it will be manageable.

 

Time for a helicopter view of the layout under construction. Basically this is my track plan now, as I've ditched layout planning software in favour of 1:1 hands on planing. 😄

 

633149351_ceZN7PdN.jpglarge.thumb.jpeg.a0d986fcbb741563bcc5a7364701494f.jpeg

 

On the far left you see the "Southern Terminus" staging yard that will be hidden under/behind some lift up tree-covered foamboard. I'm waiting for a curve turnout that will connect the outer spur to the mainline at the topleft corner of the photo. At the top right is "Nagoya" staging yard that is planned to go under a big liftable mountain. All track between the staging yards are also to be hidden from view.

 

If you wonder about the point at the lower left side of the photo, the idea is that I can use the Tomix uncoupler track to uncouple the Tomix diesel locomotive from the freight wagons, do a run around the train and couple it from the other side. Thus having the train reappear on the layout comming from the same side as it earlier left. I did some experimentation and was able to do this "blind", only using my ears when uncoupling.

 

I have some sawing work to do that I've been putting off. Some more ground (i.e. desk board) is needed at the harbor, right of the operator's position. Instead most of the board to the right (north) of the rightmost industrial spur is to get removed. Maybe I'll get it done around Easter when I have a few days off.


 

On the isse of arriving and departing on the left hand side

 

When I decided to go for a double track mainline (which wasn't my initial plan) I naturally wanted my trains to run on the left hand side like good Japanese trains do. At this time the station tracks and yard tracks where shorter than now. At the southern end of the station (left in the photo) it was quite clear from the start that there was going to be problems with having all trains arriving on the left side of the double track. There simply isn't any way to get freight trains arriving out of the tunnel from the south on the left side (upper track) over to the freight yard on the opposide side without consuming a lot of space. Also the inner curve is a 243, thus too tight for a curve turnout and even if a pair of curve turnouts were fitted, they would be atleast partially inside a tunnel so I wouldn't see the train arriving on the right (i.e. left) track anyway.

 

On the northern side of the station (right in the photo) there are also space limitations. My first experimentations had a shorter station area with room for just a 5-car passanger train and a shorter freight yard. Then the tracks in the freight yard connected to the mainline before the curve towards the peninsula. Then after the curve a pair of points on the next straight secion allowed a departing train to move to the left side of the double track. By moving the connection between freight and the mainline to it's curent location near the engine shed I got a lot more space in the station, but on the other hand there wasn't any longer room for points to get the departing trains over on the left hand side of the mainline.

 

It would be possible to fit a pair of curve turnouts on the tip of the peninsula, but then just after the departing trains have changed to the left hand side they would be heading into a tunnel anyway, so I'd hardly see the result of the maneuver. And then there would be the added complications in the staging yards of having trains arrive on one track and depart back from another, meaning I'd need another pair of turnouts in the hidden part of the layout. I'd end up with at least four more turn outs and they would connect track run with different train controllers causing more complicated wiring and a lot more more complications for my brain to deal with. Rather than having to deal with all that for very little gain, I'm currently leaving it at "There are double crossings on the other sides of both the tunnels which will get the trains over on the correct side of the mainline". It's a lot easier that way. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MeTheSwede

642773413_mSTDnwlW.jpglarge.thumb.jpeg.71b230417ac738158fb1b745d4035027.jpeg

 

This week two very crucial parts of any Japanese town came to Yamahama. The electrical grid and a FamilyMart.


After finishing the FamilyMart building I notice that I probably spent an unnecessary amount of time painting the unifom of the store clerk as he's apparently very good at not being seen. 😄

 

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MeTheSwede

Yesterday I finally finished the tedious work of moving furniture, cutting foam and burying cables. As usual I'm not quite sure what I'm doing, but this seems to work at least so far.

 

image.thumb.png.1a2897a7f24cd7f57b241d5862f3af1a.png

 

image.thumb.png.56767c9671fd16c177c6e4b37b384f7b.png

 

Now finally I should be back to see a layout grow instead of just seeing blue foam and having scenary and rolling stock stored all over the place in an extremely messy room.

 

I still need a couple of more extension cords, which untimely sold out everywhere. 😕

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bill937ca
Posted (edited)

Those inside curves look tight. A little more slack will make your trains corner better and look more prototype.

Edited by bill937ca
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MeTheSwede
1 hour ago, bill937ca said:

Those inside curves look tight. A little more slack will make your trains corner better and look more prototype.

 

Hmm... I think I'll skip redoing everything today. 😛

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gavino200
On 3/23/2021 at 3:01 PM, MeTheSwede said:

Time for a couple of photos of my work in progress.

 

633149351_ceZN7PdN.jpglarge.thumb.jpeg.a0d986fcbb741563bcc5a7364701494f.jpeg

 

 

 

I love how the station is offset at an angle!

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cteno4

Really is amazing what a 5-15 degree offset of tracks like this helps the visual appeal and make it feel much more organic and real and not the usual oval loop. It was wild the change in look on the JRM 1.0 layout when we tilted the shinkansen viaduct 5 degrees off the ground level tracks. Really was amazing effect.

 

jeff

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kami_illy
13 hours ago, cteno4 said:

Really is amazing what a 5-15 degree offset of tracks like this helps the visual appeal and make it feel much more organic and real

Especially in modeling a scenery that (in real life) grew around natural or historical frontiers and things rather than being planed. The 90 degrees grid would work well for US or some latin American places but usually fail in European or Japanese layouts as it makes it real hard to recreate the feeling of these places. But then all of that makes it harder to model the scenes, put the track, etc.

 

But it looks good with the gentle curves and the non-parallel station. 

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