Here’s one I did earlier…

See also Crewe Panels for details of the signal panels for this layout

Long time ago, someone made a model of Crewe in the old original Rail3D. When I was working on Rail3D 2KD I fiddled around with a model of Crewe, recently I’ve pulled this old layout out of the file archives and looked at it again.

Why model Crewe?

Well, it’s a very interesting piece or railway

  • a complex and busy junction
  • lots of variety of motive power: diesel and electric, loco and multiple units, mainline express and locals
  • passenger and freight operation
  • multi-level junctions
  • freight bypass lines
  • big goods yard
  • loco-changes on some trains.

At least that was the case in the 80′s and 90′s when I’m thinking of

The model

So I set up a model using the digitiser to lay the mainlines for a few miles around Crewe, and started building the track using the Quail track plans (1990 edition) as a guide.

There are some bits of the track layout missing - some of the freight lines to the west are missing, Basford Hall yard is only sketched out and Crewe diesel depot is not there - instead there are a couple of sidings with incorrect appraoch roads.

btw, the layout was originally built with the wrong track spacing and while I have corrected most of this, there are still a couple of places where the track needs to be re-aligned.

So far so good.


The problems

If you download the model at this state you will see it is full of problems the biggest one being that (except in the very out-lying parts of the layout) it is very very slow: down to 1 or 2 fps on my development machine.

Why is it so slow?

Well, various reasons, but some of them are:

  • It’s a big complex layout with lots of track to be rendered.
  • Most of the track is electrified, and therefore there is a lot of ohle to render, which also slows things down.
  • It uses old stock models, most of which are incomplete and lack the latest features, don’t use strips, overuse textures and render very slowly.

to get a feel for the speed issue, turn on the trace window ( see Frame Rates. you only need the fps traces enabled : turn off speed and control traces) The key traces to watch are the dark blue (time to render train objects) and light blue (time to render track obejcts). You should see that as certain trains come into view the time to render the trains goes up dramtically and how the time to render track increases in complex parts of the layout. Notice how turning the ohle off has a significant effect on the time to render the track.

and besides that, other problems with the layout include:

  • Terrain generation poor on some of the grade seperated junctions
  • The layout uses four-aspect colour light signals. Most models could be improved, and there are some varieties missing from the library.
  • Some scenery items (such as buildings and bridges) needed.

So what are we going to do about it?

The Crewe project

I’d like to invite other Rail3D users to join this project and help to make this a good show-piece layout.

Obviously some things will need some changes to the program code and I’ll need to do these, for example:

  • Code changes to make ohle render faster
  • Fixes to terrain code.

But other things could be done by others such as

  • scenery additions
  • fix/update/produce stock models.

As far as stock goes:

  • Class 37: should be lots of these in the model - I’m using James Stewards ews vesion, which isn’t too bad on frame rate. There is a new 37 strip based model available, it would be nice to have ews, or railfrieght grey version of this.
  • Class 150 dmu: These were used as the best available modern dmu at the time, but they are not strip based, lack interiors and need a lot of work. I know there is a new 158 model in preparation (which looks excellent) and that would be very suitable for the layout, but it would also be good to have a model of the 150 to current standards.
  • Class 323 emu: This is a very poor model. It started life as on old R3d classic model, and I partly updated it when I was experimenting with R3D features such as lights, doors and bogies. As far as I am aware there is no decent modern emu available, so this is an urgent need.
  • Class 325 postal emu. Is another R3D classic model that needs updating. Some of the panels are missing, it’s wide to gauge on the wheels (and possibly over the body as well). Biggest problem is that it’s an old panel heavy model and thus has a very bad effect on the frame rate.
  • Class 47. Another old model that looks great, but is heavy on the number of panels and number of textures, and also for some reason wide to gauge.
  • Class 60. Another model thats a bit heavy on the panel count, although it runs reasonably. Also wide to guage.
  • Class 86/87. Some of the oldest models on the layout. They don’t look too bad but are panel heavy and could be improved. They also lack proper wheels, pantograph, lights etc. Ideally, to model Crewe as I remember it, I’d like all the ac electrics 81 through 87 in br blue as strip and skin models, but anything would help.
  • Class 90. Another older model, could be improved with use of strips and skins and updates to bogies etc. Quite slow to render. Would be nice to have it ic and ews liveries.
  • hst. There is no hst at the moment, so a decent model of the hst would be another useful addition to the layout.
  • mk2 coaches. A priority for this layout - the only mk2s available are old models heavy on the panels and we need some strip and texture based versions (like the lo-cost mk1s). Generally the coaches in this layout have quite an effect on fps, so strip based mk2s are a prioirty to get the layout running well.
  • mk3 coaches - at present there are no mk3s in the layout, since there are no decent models available. Fast rendering strip based mk3s would be very helpful.
  • Oil tankers: these are a strip and texture model an are generally ok, although the bogie is wide to gauge and needs fixing.
  • Steel wagons. Another very old model that needs new bogies, and some textures.
  • Freightliner wagons. Quite a hotch potch. Some wagons have been updated, but they probably all need some work to resolve issues such as bogies and to make a properly textured and skinned model that allows plenty of variations to be modelled.

then of course we could go on - different emu and dmu types, class 56 and 58, dvts etc