Above: The staging yard on the Border District, viewed from the eastern end. This end is also referred to and known as Edenhope. In the background, the main line can be seen “up high”, along with the important location of Border Junction, where the branch to Jameston breaks off from the main. In the far distance at the end of the staging yard, the entry to the tunnel which takes trains to Tatiara Downs can be seen, looking a little like a black square. Image taken at the commencement of the July 2018 operating session.
The staging yard on the Border District is an important part of successful operating sessions. It does double duty, providing an area to store trains, as well as serving as locations and destinations “beyond” the layout. On the Border District, the staging yard serves trains travelling west (known as Kybobolite, South Australia) and also east (known as Edenhope, Victoria). The names for staging help to give both location and context to my proto-freelanced layout. And while trains certainly did run through Kybybolite in real life (on the SAR south east line to Naracoorte and Mount Gambier), the Victorian Railways never actually made it to Edenhope. The line further north to Carpolac was probably the closest, though in my fiction the line through Edenhope continues eastwards and junctions with the existing VR system at Balmoral.
The concept and set out for the Border District’s staging yard took significant inspiration and cues from the work of US model railroader David Barrow, of “Cat Mountain and Santa Fe” fame. Open and visible staging seemed like a good idea to me, but it wasn’t until I saw it in use on David’s layout (through the pages of magazines) that I was convinced. Why “open” and “visible”? Primarily, so that operators can see and access their trains more easily. The first step when starting operations is to “pump up the air” – and the time which this would take on the prototype allows operators to check their ABLO cards for their train, cross referencing with their actual consist by checking loco, carriage and wagon numbers. This task would be very hard to do in hidden staging!
The “through” aspect to staging on the Border District also serves more than a single purpose. It allows a continuous run around the layout for locomotive and rollingstock testing – and also for simply “playing” outside of operating sessions, particularly when friends visit. It also facilitates through trains not needing to be turned between operating sessions, also saving on having to reverse waybills for some trains. I’ll confess though – there have been times where I have wondered if, for prototypical and operational fidelity, the use of two separate staging yards – one for Kybybolite/SAR only and the other for Edenehope/VR only, may have been a better approach. However, there is no denying that an additional benefit of a single staging yard is the less real estate it takes up.
The “Kybybolite/Edenhope” yard on the Border District provides 18 storage roads, comprised of 8 “through” roads and 10 “stub ended” roads. The through roads vary in length from 1.8m to 3m (the latter length needed for a ten car Overland or half decent looking Jet), while the stub ended roads are much smaller, from 0.6m to 1.8m long (though long enough to provide storage space for a single railmotor). 4 stub ended roads are dedicated to SAR trains, with 6 dedicated VR trains – the main determinate here being the direction they face (so as to not need to “back” trains in). The through roads can be used to hold VR and/or SAR trains, and with an increasing focus on “immersive operations” resulting in less “through” trains on the layout, the through roads are being used more and more to stage both a VR and an SAR train for a session – essentially, a single through road can function as 2 stub ended roads.
Below: Looking at the staging yard in the opposite direction to that in the lead image. Serving as “Kybybolite”, four stub ended SAR sidings can be seen in the foreground of this image. In the background, the edge of the platform at Border Junction can be seen to the right, while the “Southern Aggregates” facility can be seen further along on the other side. The “high line” in front of this is the main line to Tatiara Downs, while the VR line out of staging to Nankiva sits just below this, curving up behind the low hill to the far left.