This HO scale layout features the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR), Reading Railroad (RDG), and Western Maryland Railway (WM) in South Central Pennsylvania and Maryland. It is comprised of two to three decks in a 22' x 36' basement. It is set in the transition era of the mid 1950's with both steam and diesel locomotives. It is a "proto-freelance" railroad (it is not meant to be an exact "replica" of the actual railroad, but rather capture the "flavor" of what these railroads were in the 1950's). The layout models the PRR from Washington, DC to Enola, PA with additional staging at Columbia, PA, and Harrisburg, PA. The WM and RDG are modeled from Baltimore, MD to Reading, PA (via the "Dutch" and "Lurgan" lines) with additional staging at Cumberland, MD.
Control is DCC with a radio-equipped Digitrax Chief system. The C/MRI system is used for two interconnected CTC signaling systems with emphasis on prototypical operations. Twelve SMINI nodes are used to control 69 signals, 46 turnouts, and detect occupancy/switch positions for the two CTC systems. The WM/RDG uses a 1950's US&S style CTC machine. The PRR CTC machine is very close to a circa 1994 Norfolk Southern touch-screen machine and was largely designed by my dispatcher (retired Conrail/NS dispatcher, Steven Mallery -- see his layout also on this page!!!). Both control programs are written in Visual Basic 2015 and runs under Windows 10. The PRR touch-screen was chosen as there was not enough space for a second US&S machine.
Oregon Rail Supply signals (type G or "V" for RDG, type D for WM, and position lights for PRR) are used on the layout with repeater boards for every interlocking above the layout to provide better visibility (especially in crowded aisles). Four aspects (clear, approach, stop and restricting) provide an adequate subset of the prototype signals. Even with only 50% of the C/MRI system installed, a dramatic decrease in radio traffic was seen in the first operating session. At 100%, radio traffic is only a small fraction of the amount before installing the system. Mistakes were also cut down as the signals make it much clearer for road crews to determine proper clearances.
Operations began in January 2001 and require 12-15 people. Contact information if you'd like to see or operate the layout can be found at: http://pamodelrailroads.com/