A Journey along the line. (There are more photos in the photo section)
This is a simple basic journey

  
In basic terms the AFK runs from a junction with the national network at Relforka Lacono across Altonia canton before crossing a high watershed and dropping down to the former provincial capital at Fenditavalat in Calviero canton. The general layout of the AFK system is shown on the map below although this is a rough sketch rather than a scaled map.
  
  
The electrified standard gauge train of Ferovojoj Thalnia, the national network, pulls into the junction to make its connections with the AFK.
  
 Lacono relforka

Our journey begins at Relforka Lacono, or Lacono Junction to give the English translation. In common with many other junctions it merely marks the point at which a subsidiary line leaves the mainline to serve the town that it is named after. Any one who alights from a standard gauge train under the misapprehension that Relforka is near Lacono will soon discover that the town itself is roughly 30 kms distant. The junction solely serves a railway community, there being no other settlement of any other significance in the vicinity, and basically consists of a series of exchange platforms between the FT (the national system) the AFK and the MFR. The site was originally selected as being the most convenient point for the AFK to branch away into the mountains.
  
  
The AFK express and local trains stand alongside each other waiting to make their connections into the interior. The railway bus offers a more direct connection to Eromarbordo, on the coast, than the railway. The SG siding leads to a tranship shed.
  
  
Although electrified the ‘international’ line towards Narnia is a backwater of the Thalnian network, functioning principally as a secondary artery for freight services.  Few passenger trains traverse the ramshackle line. Table 110 in the ‘Orario’ lists only 4 pairs of all station locals and table 110c, that of the AFK, shows that an erratic series of connections are made into the interior. Despite being located upon the coastal strip Relforka is 150 metres above the sea as the mountains rise steeply behind the coastline. In addition to accommodating the AFK the station also forms an end on junction with the narrow gauge MFR which drops to the coastal resorts of Rolnth, the adjoining canton, and which, in conjunction with the AFK and CFS, provides a joint service from the coast through the mountains in the summer. In addition to the passenger facilities there are numerous transfer sidings between the standard gauge and the narrow gauge, a large yard where rolling stock is stored and the main loco shed of the system where repairs are also undertaken. (None of this is modelled.)
  
  
The layout at Relforka Lacono. In reality this is simply a 'dressed' fiddleyard.
  
 Breco de Glissent

Upon leaving Relforka the line breaches a narrow defile in the mountains backing the coastal plateau (again this is not modelled). This was achieved with considerable difficulty during the 1880s. The ancient road into the interior was required to climb tortuously over the mountains past an elaborate series of fortifications designed to protect Marronĝaco from the outside world. In modern times the railway’s occupation of the gorge has precluded the building of a new road, thereby accounting for the railway’s relative prosperity. The railway emerges from this narrow ravine at Breĉo de Glissent, a strategically located fortified town guarding the road’s descent into Altonia's interior. Those of a geographical turn of mind will possibly identify the hills as the terminal moraine of a glacier, breached by an overflow channel at the end of the last ice age. The area which once formed the periglacial lake bed is now fertile farming land in the bottom of the glacial valley and is known in the local dialect as the ‘Kasatritikakamparoj’, or ‘hidden wheat fields’ to give a rough English approximation.
  
  
The northern end of Breĉo de Glissent is nearing completion. This is a view of the agricultural co-operative looking back towards the village.

  
  
This view of the siding, at the south end of the station, shows the difference in levels that precludes the use of a loop in front of the goods shed.
  
  
The station here is unusual by continental secondary railway standards in that there is no continuous goods loop in front of the buildings because of the differences in levels between the single ended siding and the loop.  The line avoids the built up area by curving sharply behind the town before entering the street, both to access the agricultural co-op and to contain the end of the running loop. A further siding furtively crosses the station approach and accesses a small glassworks situated beside a deposit of fine sand found alongside the riverbank. The jars and bottles produced are shipped to the various food processors and breweries served by the railway. The station's main contribution to the AFK is, however, agricultural traffic much of which is seasonal. Wheat, malting barley, potatoes and soft fruits are all forwarded in season and sugar beet becomes important during the winter. Usually a bus waits in the station forecourt to make a connection between the train and the outlying villages. As a semi-autonomous cantonal body the railway operates these bus services, along with the Post Office, and a number of routes originate at Breĉo de Glissent. In addition to serving the remoter villages they supplement the basic train service by running along the via murranaccia which forms today's main road through the canton as the RN 424.
  
  
This is an older drawing of the proposed layout and as is apparent from the photo below that the station building has been relocated and an additional siding put into the arrangement.
  
  
This view shows the extra siding, the relocated station and the mocked up town gate. The tractors are standing outside the Co-op machinery depot and the railway bus waits to make a connection with the trains.
  
  
The Kasatritikakamparoj

Having entered the road the railway crosses the fortified bridge over the River Ero before leaving it to find its own course across the fields in the valley bottom. This is a prosperous agrarian landscape backed by hills steeply rising from the plain. Wheat, barley and maize grow in abundance on the lands initially reclaimed from marshland by the Cistercian monks after they settled here in the thirteenth century. Within a few kilometres the line reaches Narrasson, the site of the Abbey, which is still an important influence in local agriculture today. Having paused briefly at the village halt the line crosses more fields before entering the main street at Sojonno (not modelled). As the road makes a right angled bend upon leaving the settlement the railway continues past a cannery on its own right of way. The factory is served by a siding and generally forwards traffic going beyond the AFK, although a wagon is occasionally sent to the confectionery factory at Lacono. Once clear of the halt the line enters more undulating country, crossing a valley over an embankment before entering a shallow cutting and running between orchards to the next station at Boursson.
  
The line climbs away from the bridge over the Ero between maize fields.
The line continues its traverse of the valley bottom through orchards.
  
Boursson

Crossing the minor road by the concrete silos, which are a local landmark, the train enters Boursson. This is where the AFK leaves the valley floor to begin its climb onto the flanks of the valley to gain the elevation necessary to begin its assault upon the Marronĝaco Massif. Although located in open countryside the station serves a number of villages, some of which are on the valley floor and others, such as Boursson Supra, are located on the valley's slopes. The layout is more typical of a continental wayside station in that it has a continuous loop past the goods shed, which is an annexe of the station building, and there are additional sidings serving an agricultural co-operative and a canning factory. The general traffic patterns are similar to those of Breĉo de Glissent but are augmented by the output of the cannery. Pigs are also an important mainstay of the local farms and there is a healthy traffic to the slaughterhouse in Lacono. The line crosses the RN424 at the north end of the station to continue its climb towards Lacono (which is not modelled).
  
  
Boursson station sits on the valley floor but serves a number of villages.
  
  
A local goods train enters Boursson.
  
Boursson's trackplan was built as shown on the drawing but the exit via the village street was omitted.


  Lacono Cittavecchia

Having left the valley bottom the line climbs (on a non modelled section of line) before running through a tunnel to reach the major intermediate station of Lacono Cittavecchia. Lacono was the terminus of the original 1880s line because further easy progress was blocked by a series of serrated mountains. With the railway temporarily stalled, the settlement's position as a railhead enabled it to develop manufacturing industries, to the detriment of its more inaccessible neighbours. When construction recommenced, the ancient garrison town had established an unassailable economic pre-eminence, which was reflected by the transference to the town of the regional seat of government. This elevated status was celebrated by the conferral of city status and the establishment of an annexe of the University of Marronĝaco, which had been based in Fenditavalat since the fourteenth century. Once work on the railway's prolongation began a realignment was necessary which necessitated the abandonment of the original station for a new one situated at what was then the edge of the city. This developed into the Danulbo quarter, a zone of industrial buildings and workers housing in tenement blocks. The old station site, in the Aspargo quarter, was retained as a motive power depot and was connected to the new station by a tunnel.
  
Lacono's track plan as it was built. The three way point on the mainline at the entry  by the tunnel has recently been replaced by two points to improve reliability.
  
The small yard stands in the foreground whilst the shunter retrieves wagons from the storage siding on the far side of the main line.
  
  
The station is unique on the AFK in that the passenger and goods facilities are clearly segregated. Intending travellers are sheltered by an overall roof which covers the island platform between the tracks. A further platform fronts the station building but is mainly used as a carriage siding. The platform extends into the Post Office at one end and a loading dock at the other. The eastern side of the site contains a small marshalling yard where trains are made up and broken down by a permanently assigned shunter and the sidings also give access to the industries across the road. There is an oil loading point connected to a depot by a short pipeline beneath the road whereas the coal for the gasworks is unloaded by a conveyor extended across the street during the night. To the north of these sidings there is the goods shed and an unloading siding alongside which road vehicles can be parked. This is used to load concrete pipes and empty cans hauled in from nearby factories. Two sidings cross the Karushnastrato, one of the city's more important thoroughfares, to enter factories in the new quarter which developed after the re-siting of the station in the late nineteenth century. One, an extension of the siding serving the Post Office, serves a confectionery company and the other serves a carpet manufacturer and an agricultural machinery fabricator.
  
  
The shunter sorts carriages and mail vans beneath the overall roof .
  
  
Aspargo shed.
  
  
Carramassco Gorge

North of Lacono the River Ero runs through the Carramassco Gorge, another defile in the mountains. The broken terrain forced the railway to deviate from the ancient road and to progress along shelves carved into the hillside far above the river below. Leaving these ledges the line crosses a curved viaduct, high above the Ero, and plunges into a vertical rock wall rather in the manner that the Rhaetian does at Landwasser viaduct.
  
  
The viaduct and tunnel across the gorge, inspired by Landwasser but a pale imitation!
  
  Urteno

Exiting the tunnel the line crosses a ribbon lake, the Spegulalaguno, by means of a bascule bridge, to enter the spa town of Urteno. Originally little more than a lakeside hamlet Urteno grew, with the coming of the railway, into an upmarket resort where the wealthy relax in the summer months and ski upon the adjacent slopes in the winter. It is now surrounded by sanatoria, hosts at least one restaurant of international repute and has its complement of chic hotels. Patronage is sufficiently buoyant to justify the running of a Pullman on the main train of the day throughout much of the year. In the summer this facility is extended, in conjunction with the MFR, to the coastal resorts of Rolnth canton and under the auspices of the CFS through coaches also traverse the heart of the Marronĝaco Massif to Krelm. Although the operation is reminiscent of the Glacier Express the more prosaically labelled trains 11054 and 11055 of the AFK cannot compete in terms of opulence, although they are certainly capable of challenging for the crown of the slowest express in Europe!
  
Urteno's track plan is perhaps the most compromised of the entire layout. I've really tried to squeeze a quart into a pint pot! It would have been nice to have more loops but that is the modeller's perennial cry isn't it?
A local crosses the bascule bridge over the Spegunalaguno.
  
Urteno also enjoys the social cachet of hosting its own university annexe, thereby contributing significantly to the postal traffic so important to the well being of the AFK, and is the site of the canton's major hospital. The station is, furthermore, the focal point of shipping services upon the lake which operate from the Station Quay located behind the station building. The railway operated ferry services are timed to connect with the trains and goods wagons are taken to the brewery at Karamspur across the lake. The station has a complex layout to allow access to the ferry and there is also a small yard at the northern end which stores wagons waiting to go across the lake. Traffic includes furniture from a factory across the mainline from the yard and timber from a siding at the south end near the lake. Books and perfume also leave the station having been brought in by road from other parts of the town.


 In railway terms the station acts as the upper terminus for the trains that traverse the more populous and prosperous parts of the canton because it is at this point that the ascent to the watershed of the Orbon and Ero rivers begins in earnest. To climb into the Altingablecaŭto (High Reaches) the railway had to clamber up the slopes of the Aepto, a stream flowing into the Spegulalaguno by a steep and difficult grade. Known as the Vupafaŭkangulo, the climb commences at the northern end of the platforms and requires a locomotive to be supplied from Aspargo each morning to take up banking and shunting duties at the station. Fewer trains traverse this section of line as the countryside becomes more rugged, as reflected in the sparseness of the population.
  
Urteno possesses a station that befits its status as a spa town, although it is still under construction.
The incomplete Pullman is detatched from the express.
  
As the line climbs into the pine forests it passes the Vardenamero, a small lake that has been developed into a year round recreational attraction offering skiing and skating in winter, with walking and swimming available in the summer as well as golf on the nearby course. The shuttle trains that run between Urteno and Lacono are extended to this upper suburb of Urteno in the appropriate seasons and there is a short siding for the timber extracted from the surrounding forests.
  
  
A train passes the lake at Vardenamero. The marker for the ski lift is in the background.
  
A freight train climbs into the gorge alongside the Aepto.
  
 Ithilarak

As the valley closes in the railway tunnels under a rock outcrop, before emerging to run high upon the flanks of the valley. It then enters an avalanche shelter and  reaches Ithilarak. Situated at the top of the bank this is the junction for the rack branch into the Tegmentadelamondo region, or the Győrsmarabű as it is called locally. The station contains an exchange loop for the branch traffic in addition to the loop in front of the goods shed. A small timber loading point is served by a siding and a further siding, accessed by a double slip, connects to a system of loading bunkers fed by an aerial ropeway from a coal mine on the hillside across the valley.

  
Train 11055 stands at Ithilarak. The train runs in this shortened form during the winter months when there are no through carriages. The village will most likely be painted omto the background when this is eventually completed, rather than stuck on as an overlay as shown.
  
This is the track plan as built. A recent alteration has seen the removal of the double slip allowing access to the mine from the loop only.
  
This area is the stronghold of the Marronĝacajo language, a tongue quite different from the modern day Thalnian more commonly spoken in the lower valleys of the Marronĝaco Massif. Still in everyday use amongst the sturdy mountain peasants the language is manifested by the place names served by the railway, many of the stations carrying bi-lingual signs. The scarcity of the train service is reflected by the schedules of 11054 and 11055, which become all station locals over this section, albeit that some of the wayside halts are conditional stops only. Having crossed the Aepto the line enters another tunnel, whilst still climbing, to reach the Benkalandoj, alps in the true geographical meaning of the word, that is the slopes overhanging a glaciated valley.
  
The line turns into a hanging valley as it heads towards the summit of the line.
    
Ospicio d'Helacaraxë
  
Set in splendid isolation amongst the high peaks the station lies just short of the line's summit as reflected in the engine crews' slang for the enirosignal, known as il stelo, or the Star (of Bethlehem). Although not quite at the pinnacle of the line this marks the end of the collar work for the engine. The station is strategically important in that it provides a much needed crossing point for operational purposes although the goods loops are often out of use throughout the winter beneath huge snowdrifts. In the summer they serve as the unloading points for the cattle traffic and take the occasional wagon of ammunition or supplies for the military training areas located nearby. A small quarry, which operates intermittently during the summer months, also feeds gravel from a tramway. The scenery is quite desolate and the only building in the vicinity, barring the railway installations, is the hospice or talan to give the vernacular. The station serves as an important meeting place for the railway operated bus services into the adjacent valleys during the summer months.
  
The snows linger as a train leaves the tunnel beneath the Heldya to skirt the Lagabianco. The enirasignalo (or home signal) is the red and white chequerboard. It has been pierced with holes to prevent the wind from unintentionally moving it.
  
Ospicio is at the top of the diagram which shows how the line curves round to Caladonno. The position of the cassette which acts as Fenditavalat's fiddle yard is also marked. When this is in use the bridge, which marks the scenic end of Caladonno, is taken off the layout. The cassette rests upon the church tower at Caladonno at the other end. Caladonno can be controlled either from Ospicio or Fenditavalat.
  
Caladonno

As the line passes its summit it crosses the Orbon watershed, and the Calviero cantonal boundary, before running across a viaduct close to the snout of the Orbon Glacier. Beneath this lies the Caladonnamera and Caladonno village. The loop here offers a convenient place for long goods trains to shed wagons, or attach them if needs be, before arriving at Fenditavalat where the loop restricts the length of train that can be accepted.
  
A 2-10-2T pulls a freight over the curved viaduct which crosses the Orbon's entry into the Caladonnamero. The lake is frozen and the ground will be covered with snow when completed.
  
Fenditavalat

Leaving Caladonno the line continues its fall until it reaches Fenditavalat, the terminus of the AFK. The city was the Roman capital of Marronĝaco yet despite losing this distinction to Lacono it remains a thriving city, although small by the standards of more developed European countries. Built upon a terrace overlooking the Orbon river it occupied the only flat land in the district, thus presenting a problem for the line’s promoters in finding a site for the terminus. Eventually a compromise was reached whereby access was ceded to the Lower Market or Basabazaro, one of the city's squares, via the Antaŭpordo, or Foregate. The railway terminates in front of the Suprantaŭpordo below the cathedral. The price paid for this incursion into a densely urban area is a constricted layout set within the street. The railway was allowed to pierce the walls to gain access to an extremely cramped goods yard although this is augmented by facilities (not modelled) along the riverbank outside the town. The CFS, the three-phase electrified tramway system of Calviero, which runs from a separate station to the north of the city, was connected to the AFK after WWI by a shelf blasted alongside the river. This  route requires a reversal to reach the Basabazaro.  A blanket factory, a dairy and a liqueur distillery provide plenty of traffic for the AFK and all exchange traffic on the narrow gauge between the northern and southern cantons of the province has to be worked through the square.
  
The trackplan at Fenditavalat mimics that of the original layout although it has been expanded. The trains enter roughly half way along the layout which restricts the length of train that can be accepted.
Some of the buildings were saved from the original layout that I started as an undergraduate. The chapel and the gatehouse are well into their fourth decade!


The goods yard has also been slightly enlarged. The incomplete warehouse on the left surely holds some kind of record. It was begun during the 1970s and still awaits completion! Something will eventually have to be done to hide the unsightly back of Jakarutu.
The three phase railcar waits in one of the loops. The eagle eyed will note that the loop nearest the buildings is not electrified for safety reasons. The square will one day be covered with cobbles.
  
In the course of the journey the mainline has thrown off two branches that are worthy of closer consideration. The line to Eromarbordo leaves from the junction at Lajver between Relforka and Breĉo de Glissent. Eromarbordo was the Roman port for Murranaccia province although its importance waned with the coming of the railway. The line crosses a creek at the back of the town by a swing bridge and terminates below the walls. The small port sees fish traffic and fertiliser being taken inland and the Carrodantis confectionery company imports cocoa here. Grain from the Kasatritikakamparoj is also exported from the quays that lie around the bend from the fishing berths (i.e. not modelled). Tourist traffic to the beaches is also an important contributor to the AFK's revenues during the summer.
  
A railcar crosses the swing bridge over the river behind the town at Eromarbordo. The bridge does swing to allow the 'water' to be dusted.
The track plan shows the cramped nature of the port and its associated complicated trackwork.
The beam trawler stands at the quayside with the tanks to bunker the fleet visible in the background. The cocoa store stands to their left flanked by the silos and unloading pit of the grain elevators. To the left stands the fishermen's chapel. Perhaps a few more seagulls are needed!
A close up of the Urbetakajo or Town Staithe, where the smaller boats unload. A curing house stands in the background and the track is just visible inset into the cobbles.
  
The other branch leaves the mainline at Ithilarak and climbs onto the Tegmentadelamondo in Thalnian, Gyorsmorabu in Marrongacan, or ‘Roof of the world’. Ascending steeply the line reaches Jakarutu, yet another walled hilltop town remarkable only for its remoteness. The sparse train service clings tenuously to life supported by the continuing presence of an army barracks in the town and the lack of a viable alternative during the winter. The station layout is simple in the extreme and the station building is combined with the loco shed as at Brassac on the Chemin de fer du Tarn.
  
The train leaves the forests as the rack climbs.
The rack branch is notable for its simplistic track layouts. This is the third level of the layout at this point and near eye level.
The train arrives at Jakarutu, the remote terminus of the branch. There is no cosmetic sky in this photo and the town is painted onto the backscene.
The terminus building combines the shed and the administrative functions quite adequately for a small outpost.
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