August 9, 2016

Revised Plan for Full Expansion of PoLA

With the book done, I tinkered around a little bit more with the full expansion of PoLA design.  This is a work in progress sketch.

Compared to the previous design, the main change is in the crossing to Terminal Island. I moved the Cerritos Channel to the right, devoting more area to model the Cerritos Channel and bridges.

To make room for the bigger channel. I moved  The SA Recycle and the Vopak LB facilities to the workshop area. This adds two industries to Phase II that would require local switching, potentially making just Phase I and II more interesting to operate.  In Phase II the Vopak LB siding is a short stub track. If the layout expands to Phase III, that stub would be extended through the wall to connect to Watson Yard. Then the Vopak LB siding would have to be relocated.

This arrangement of the two channels has several benefits. First it makes it easier to hide the holes in the walls, and second it allows space for a large refinery scene. Finally, it includes the Dominguez Channel and its bridge, while also allowing the Cerritos Bridge to be close to scale size.

I also reconfigured the Vopak Wilmington facility with just one siding IAW the prototype. This area needs a little more design work to add an industry or two. The PHL yard needs more design work to incorporate the engine terminal. The Fish Harbor area would represent an earlier era when it saw more local rail traffic. The industries there now are either out of business or not rail served.

The staging yard concept for this layout is very abstract, compared to the Aquia Line that is very simple and literal. In the expanded PoLA plan there are two visible staging yards, Watson for BNSF and Dock St for all others. Watson yard is where BNSF trains get staged, with room for up to three trains.  BNSF Trains would run from Watson Yard to PHL Yard, before heading to Terminal or Mormon Islands.

Dock Street Yard is the other visible staging yard. Dock St Yard represents different places depending on how you arrive there. If a train arrives at Dock St via the bridge over Dominguez Channel, it serves as the rest of the world, which happened to be east of here. If the train arrives at Dock Street via the Cerritos Channel bridge, it is the small waiting yard on Terminal Island. One or two of its tracks could also be used as Terminal Island slough tracks for use by switchers working the Global Gateway ICTF, Fish Harbor,  SA Scrap and Vopak LB.  Trains would not normally go from the Dock St Yard to Watson Yard in an op session, but they would during restaging.

What would an op session look like? It would start off with two trains in Watson Yard, and one or two in Dock St. In Berth 200 yard would be cars that need to be sorted into trains to head to Mormon Island and the Terminal Island industries. Mormon Island would have cars awaiting pickup as would the industries on Terminal Island, including a container train at the ICTF. The PHL switchers would make up the Mormon Island and the Terminal Island locals, called dock jobs.  Once they go out, trains from BNSF Watson yard and from Dock St yard representing all points east would arrive in the yard for sorting by the PHL.

A westbound container train would travel from Dock St to Berth 2000, and then back to Terminal Island via Cerritos Bridge. Yes, they do back long container trains into Terminal Island. It would swap cars at the ICTF and retrace it steps. Alternatively, it could drop off cars and return light. PHL could also send a light engine to the ICTF to pick up a container train. So, container trains would be doing some switching on this layout and not just run through. It should be noted that PHL handles approximately 1.2 million double stacks, and 40,000 merchandise cars in a year. So any PHL layout has to include a steady stream of container traffic in some way.

It might be worth exploring using the continuous run track to add more container train traffic. I need to think about that some more.

This layout plan offers a lot of modern railroad action.


  1. It looks like it's time to start a new blog about the POLA layout...
    - Trevor (Three blogs and counting)

  2. At one point I was running three blogs. I was going to start a new blog for the McCooks landing, then I decided to consolidate it all to one. The other two blogs were by invite only as they were more like project notebooks and only open to people involved in the project. One was a home improvement blog and the other was the WWI layout.

    But, I have not decided to abandon Aquia yet. I am just thinking through options. As my wife says, "don't draw track plans before you go to bed." I really enjoy doing track plans.

  3. Bernie - Always enjoy your iterations of track plans in various scales for your basement benchwork... this one is especially intriquing... I apologize if this has been covered before, but what software are you using to do these plans?... thanks in advance - JF (one blog and sticking)

    1. I use Adobe Illustrator for the drawing. When a drawing is close to final, I tend add a texture layer using Photoshop. This drawing does not have the texture layer. But the Aquia Line plan does if you want to compare. A few years ago I learned how to better use brushes in Photoshop to draw textures. That made a big difference in the final appearance.

  4. The impression I get is you're a model railroader who enjoys research, building, and operating all about the same and also enjoys solo modelling and working in a team, either modelling or operating. That's relatively unusual, as most tend to like one thing more than another.

    The problem comes when a layout is 'finished' to a degree where any modelling becomes unsatisfying. Do you then tear it down and start again?

    So maybe you need two layouts at any one time: one complete and always operable, the other always under construction. As one is completed the other is torn down and the space it occupied becomes the new building site.

    For the moment you could truncate the Aquia line and end it with some staging and use the vacated space to extend PoLA.