Prototype Modeling - Finding a Location

Location, Location, Location!

Finding a Suitable Prototype Location

I had several criteria for the location I was to model. The biggest problem was that big city stations are enormous. Even with selective compression, a station like the München Hauptbahnhof, with all of its approaches and supporting stations, would fill an entire gymnasium!

At the other extreme are the small branch line stations. While much easier to model space-wise, these stations see very little passenger traffic in modern times (1979 to present). Freight traffic is practically nonexistent on these lines as well.


With these dilemmas in mind, here are the criteria I used to pick the prototype station I would model:

Located in Bavaria

München is one of my favorite cities in Europe. Bavaria has a laid back atmosphere. It also has very beautiful landscapes. Being of German descent, albeit northern German, I feel a connection to Bavaria. Its people are much like Iowans - very down to earth, hard-working, friendly people. Yes, Bavaria was definitely the place I wanted to model.

A Variety of Train Types

I really wanted to have several different types of trains. By that, I don't simply mean freight and passenger service. I wanted variety within the freight and passenger services. For passenger service, I wanted as many of the following types as possible:

 RegionalBahn (RB) - Local trains which stop at every station.

 S-Bahn (SB) - Local trains which serviced only towns a short distance outside of major cities, such as München.

 Regional Express (RE) - Local trains making fewer stops than RBs.

 Stadt Express (SE) - Similar to REs.

 InterCity (IC) - Typically, trains which stop only in major stations.

 InterRegio (IR) - Like ICs, but cheaper in price.

 EuroCity (EC) - Like ICs, but with a more international flavor.

 InterCityExpress (ICE) - High speed trains with few or no stops between the biggest stations in Germany (and some international stations).

For freight service, I wanted as many of the following types as possible:

 Unit Trains - Trains with cars containing the same cargo (i.e. - coal or ballast).

 Intermodal Trains - Trains with cars that have containers as loads.

 Mix Freight Trains - Trains with a mixed manifest of cargo.

 Local Freight Trains - Typically, short trains which move freight from one local town to another.

 Through Freight Trains - Typically, longer trains which move freight greater distances than local freight trains.

A Town with a Population of Around 10,000

The outskirts of a town of 10,000 people would be easier to model than a larger city. The station would also be a size which could be modeled with little or no selective compression. A town this size would have a good combination of city structures and village-like structures.

A Town with a Junction of a Branch Line and a Main Line

A town on a main line with a connecting branch line seemed to have a better chance of having a more interesting track plan. In addition, a branch line, while fairly boring standing on its own, could be an integral part of an interesting layout. A very short branch line would also allow the opportunity to model the entire line - selectively compressed, of course.

The Candidates

After doing some intensive research, I had narrowed down my choices to four cities: Rosenheim, Traunstein, Weilheim, and Murnau. All seemed to meet the criteria I had set forth.

After ordering some German railway books, I quickly eliminated Rosenheim and Traunstein. Both of these were on a line from Munich to Salzburg, Austria. While the town size was within the range I had set, the track plan for each of these cities was enormous! At the time, I was still considering HO as the scale of preference. With my limited space, it would have been impossible to capture even the spirit of these large stations. They weren't the München Hbf, but they were still much bigger than I had hoped for.

Weilheim Bahnhof, while much smaller than Rosenheim or Traunstein, was still a little larger than I was hoping for. However, it was still in the running until I got a chance to see a track plan of Murnau.

A gentleman by the name of Moritz Gretzschel was kind enough to send me a track plan and several photos of the Murnau Bahnhof. After seeing the track plan and photos, I was convinced this was the station for me. I also learned a little history about the branch line between Murnau and Oberammergau. Apparently, this was the first electrified main line in Germany. In the early 1900s, the Murnau to Oberammergau line was a main line run by a private company, the Lokalbahn AG, out of Munich.

There were many other interesting aspects which made Murnau appealing. The flyover where the branch line track crosses above the main line is a wonderful landmark to model. A road crosses the main line right under the bridge as well. The Hechendorf Ramp makes this flyover possible. At 2.5%, this is a fairly steep grade. Some heavy freight or longer passenger trains may require a helper in order to make it up grade. This will make for interesting operations.

Four passenger tracks, several freight sidings, old buildings from the Lokalbahn, concrete ties, and a double main line to the south of the station were all features that I thought would add to the interest of the Murnau Bahnhof.

Moritz also had the track plans for Hechendorf, which is at the bottom of the ramp. It looks compact enough to model. Things were coming together. A solid track plan of Murnau and Hechendorf marked the beginnings of my layout plans. Another gentleman, Christoph Schneider, would eventually give me the plans for Oberammergau. Things were indeed coming together!

As a side note, I should mention that after making my decision to go with Murnau, I found a site on the Bahnhof in Geltendorf. After pouring over the site, I had determined that this also would have been a very good choice to model. I would definitely give this station consideration in future layouts as it had even more variety in the type of trains that ran through it (S-Bahn and InterRegio).

Why N Scale?

After doing some rough estimation, it appeared that some serious selective compression would be in order if I were going to model Murnau in HO scale. Depression began to set in as I began to realize that even this relatively small station would take up more than 20 feet - selective compression and all! I had all but given up on doing a model of a prototype location when an idea hit me - why not go to N scale?!

Of course! It was so obvious once it had finally occurred to me. The more I got into the hobby the more disgusted I was getting with the whole Märklin AC, third rail, tinplate thing anyway. The price of Märklin equipment was also another major obstacle.

With N scale, I would be able to fulfill another minor requirement I had stuck in the back of my mind. I really didn't want to selectively compress any of the stations I was planning to do. I wanted to capture the size of a station in comparison to its surroundings. I wanted to show that even a small station is actually quite large. I wanted to be able to handle 10 and 12 car passenger trains. In other words, I wanted to be able to run prototypical passenger trains. All ICE 1 trains have hard and fast compositions of 2 motor cars and 12 coaches. Although the ICE doesn't stop in Murnau, I wanted it to look right as it passed through. Selective compression would be fine on the Murnau to Oberammergau line, but I really wanted the station to be as close to the prototype as possible.

N scale would give me the ability to be more prototypical in the size of my stations, but it was also a departure from Märklin and AC. Running DC meant I had more manufacturers from which to buy product. Fleischmann and Roco have wonderful N scale locomotives and rolling stock. MiniTrix and Arnold have some good engines as well, and also have some good rolling stock. As luck would have it, every locomotive I needed was available in N scale. This included the E69/169 engine that ran exclusively on the Murnau to Oberammergau line, and the Glass Train (Glässern Zug) that was often seen running in and around Murnau.

Nächster Halt: Prototype Information (Photos, Maps, & Diagrams)