Places to Model in Belgium
By Neil Sutton
Rather than just a "Plan of the Month" the idea of this article is designed to give you a few ideas. For my own still incomplete layout I have decided to model a small junction station in the suburbs of Aachen (Germany). This enables me to run both Belgian and German locomotives with even the odd Luxembourg engine thrown in. I had planed to put up German overhead catenary but as yet I haven't got around to it (mortgage application form required). There are many possible locations to model, I have picked just a small selection of places to fit most spaces and pockets: -
The station is on the mainline between Bruxelles and Luxembourg, south of Namur. The station has about 10 platforms, carriage sidings, a small locomotive stabling point and goods yard. Part of the station yard also has a tram test track built close to the goods shed. The station is also the terminus of the line from Liege. All the platforms and sidings are of course electrified. A lot of P trains (commuter services) start/finish here, so there is a lot of scope for stock shunting, running round etc. Some holiday trains also detach / attach portions here; most of the shunting in the station area is carried out by a couple of class 91 shunters.
Gouvy could also be in the medium sized section if "modellers licence" is applied to shorten the station area and yards. The station is on the Liege to Luxembourg line on the Belgian side of the border. The station has recently been electrified and now regularly sees CFL electric locomotives on freight and passenger trains. The station still has a locomotive depot, which uses the old steam shed. The seven-road shed on its own would make an interesting motive power depot layout. The yard by the station is used to change engines and the train crew on freight and some of the holiday trains that run this way.
Is situated on the Antwerpen to Neerpelt line and is not electrified. Passenger services were handled by class 62's on rakes of M2 stock and most services were push-pull worked. The new class 41 units now work the hourly service in each direction. The station has three through platforms and one bay. Opposite the station is a small yard, for recessing block coal / coke trains, and a loco fuelling point. A number of class 51 and 62 diesels are normally stabled here between duties; the yard is also home to a class 73 shunter.
On a summer weekend, this station is the Belgian version of Skegness. The station is an eight-platform terminus. The only problem with this location would be the amount of coaching stock that would be required. You would need at least one rake of M5 double deck stock and a lot of different EMU's. The station is of course electrified; this could be modelled using Sommerfelt components or scratch built. No freight stock is required for this model. If you chose to include the extensive carriage sidings this layout would be in the large section.
Which is 28 km south of Namur on the secondary route from Namur to Luxembourg. The EMU service from Namur terminates here, as this is currently the limit of electrification. South of Dinant services were worked by single car DMU's except for the Bertrix to Namur "P train" which is a class 52 or 54 on four M2 coaches. Passenger services are now worked by the new class 41 DMU's. Until a couple of years ago a couple of electric locomotive hauled commuter trains used to start / finish at Dinant, as from the timetable change in May 1998 these services are now worked by EMU's. The canoe trains to Houyet also run from here. A lot of freight also runs through en-route to Luxembourg. Most of the traffic is related to the steel industry, coke, coal and iron ore goes south and finished products come north. If you also imagine the mainline to Luxembourg via Jemelle was shut you could run virtually anything you liked. Including international passenger and container trains. Dinant is also the terminus of the preserved line from Givet in France, which means you could operate steam engines and use the M1 coaches produced by Marklin. Scenery would be quite interesting, the backdrop would be a rock face, and in the foreground you could have the town and river.
Is the junction of the Liege to Gouvy and Liege to Jemelle lines. I would model the station as it was in 1992 before the overhead wires were turned on. You could operate the Liege to Luxembourg trains with M2, M4 or CFL stock. The Liege to Jemelle trains would use M2 stock. You would need a number of class 55 and 62 and CFL 1800 diesel locomotives. Also there was and still is a lot of freight traffic over this route.
Is the terminus of a local line from Gent. The line is not electrified. The station is quite basic, just three platform lines. What makes the location more interesting is that the station is the terminus of the preserved line from Maldeghem. The trains to and from Gent were formed of four M2 coaches and a class 62 but in the last few months' trains are now in the hands of class 41 DMU's.
I would model this station as it was about five years ago before the line to Saint Ghislain was electrified. The station was formally the Belgian border station on the through route to Valenciennes (France), though the through route closed some years ago. Before the line and station were rebuilt the station had a goods shed, small goods yard, signal box and was one of the last places with mechanical signals. Services were in the hands of class 62's and M2 stock; most services were worked in push-pull mode.
I hope the above gives you a few ideas of the possibilities that are available to the modern Belgian modeller.