SESSION 1



THIS SESSION HAS NOW FINISHED

The session is set on Monday !st December, sometime in the sixties.

Initial analysis shows heavy traffic outward from Lacono and Urteno. There will most likely be a need for a special empties train to run from Relforka due to a chronic shortage of open wagons in the high country and the valley. Demand is high because this is the timber season and the beet season. The beginning of the Christmas rush will probably see an increase in postal traffic.

1,  At 02.10 the pilot comes off Aspargo shed at Lacono to begin shunting the yard for the day's needs. Today this is outside framed 0-6-2T 707, the only AFK steam loco not in black, as it is the shed pet. She is kept reasonably clean, although the oil firing system in the bunker doesn't explain the various cinders on her superstructure. (Oops!)

The white ground signal gives permission to run into the tunnel (the lining needs replacing having been removed due to clearance problems with SG wagons) before entering the yard alongside.


2.  At 02.55 the conditional block cement train leaves Lacono along the main line. As on any other model railway train lengths are limited but with a crew van, 2 SG silos on transporters and a NG silo it looks reasonable. In its usual pragmatic manner the AFK uses it for other things as well.  A SG tank wagon, filled with tar from the gasworks, overnight, has been added whilst a NG grain silo which was detached from the train has been taken into the yard by the pilot. Once again the ground signal gives permission to enter the tunnel below some of the University buildings.
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3.  By now the daily procession of trains is leaving Relforka. First out, at 02.29, is train 2401 the Urteno goods, hauled by loco 323 a C-C rod drive crocodile.  The less said about the AFK's fanciful diesels' grasp on reality would probably be for the better! The train comprises five SG vans carried consolidated loadings for the main settlements of the province. The first wagon is a repainted Lima offering and the next two are currently untouched Raimo Grossraumwagen based on German prototypes. The train is shown crossing part of the Kasatritikakkamparoj, the valley bottom plain alongside some of the wheat fields which give the area its name. Darkness and fog are not quite so easy to replicate.The steps have also been bent back into place!

4.  The two trains cross at Boursson at 03.25. Although the signal is 'off' for the up train it will stand here  because there is not enough room for the train to hide and still allow Lacono yard to be shunted. The cement train will run to Breco de Glissent  where it will wait to cross the next goods train. Once this is up and running the Urteno train is shuttled into Lacono's yard. By now the AFK is waking up and more trains are out and about. It is probably apparent, as well. that AFK diesels are generally green.
5.  The local goods (train 2108) has arrived at Boursson where it crosses the Fenditavalat goods (train 2303). To me this is one of the more pleasurable aspects of operating a large layout. Whilst the up goods was, of necessity put together by hand in a fiddle yard the down goods was assembled by the Lacono pilot from the wagons in the yard. The empty grain hopper was transferred onto this train and the last van, carrying empty tin cans has been correctly placed to access the canning factory to the rear of the train. The three (incomplete raw styrene) vans are running through to the junction.
This is possible today because the loadings form the KTT villages are not likely to fill out the train to its maximum 180 tons load. They are carrying canned products and cured hams for trans-shipment at Relforka. A flat carrying vinegar in containers will be transferred from the up train to the down train. This is for Sojonno which can only be accessed by down trains.
6.   By 04.00 there is action  at Urteno, where the banker arrives. The loco is supplied daily from Aspargo to help trains up the Vulpafaukanguloa steep bank giving access to the Altingablecautoj region. Today this is 2-8-2T number 505 and it is trailing the maximum 80 tons (four vehicles) as it trips vans between the province's two main settlements. The observant will notice that the station has been tidied up and has received stained glass windows.


7.  At Breco de Glissent, meanwhile, the Eromarbordo goods has arrived behind 0-4-4-0T Meyer (obviously incomplete). The cement train has left and the engine would normally run round and depart along the branch. Today it will deposit its two open wagons in the siding and run engine and van to Eromarbordo where there is a lot of traffic. Incoming loads will be taken by the afternoon train.

8.  The banker doubles as a travelling station pilot and it will shunt the ferry when it 'arrives' at 05.00. The ferry acts as a visible fiddle yard and holds four vehicles. The Karamspur brewery,across the lake is a major AFK customer and whilst rail vehicles have priority they tend to be restricted to early morning and late evening sailings to allow the ferry to take road vehicles during the day. The rather War of the Worlds structure is a mock up of the intended wheel house recently placed to see how it fares in terms of surviving the loading process. The ferry has been a wooden plank for years and, like so many other parts of the AFK will probably remain so for some time.
 
9.  The Fenditavalat goods arrives at Lacono Cittavecchia at 05.40, a little behind time. The loco 2-10-2T number 111 is a generic amalgam based upon personal preferences between the 75cm and metre gauge designs.  It has been a long time in trials as, unlike older Fleischmann mechanisms, this state of the art design is rather fussy although most problems have now been cured. It is slated for cosmetic attention during the next interlude between sessions. The train was held in the tunnel so that the early morning railcar for Fenditavalat could depart once the Urteno-Relforka railcar, just visible behind the curtain wall of the trainshed, had arrived.
  
  
10.  Having left Lacono at 05.32 train 1283 crosses Akvalando viaduct over the Carramasco Gorge. The rod driven railcar (number 803) is in standard maroon and cream colours. The scene was inspired by Landwasser viaduct on the Rhaetian but is a pale copy I am afraid. The prime purpose of this train is to transport scholars from the Altingablecautoj to the Lyceo at Fenditavalat (albeit that this is in Calviero canton). Its early departure, often from the goods yard sidings rather than the platform, ensures that it usually runs empty to Ithilarak where it stands for a while, but it serves to tow a couple of vans across the high country. Today is Monday however and the weekly boarders have to be accommodated, hence the coach. This was inspired by a GNoSR design, somewhat incongruously.
  
  
11.  The severity of the viaduct's site is obvious in this cruel picture. The  curve is of two foot radius and serves as the turnback at the end of the central peninsula. The area below the curve to the left is occupied by Eromarbordo and the early scenic sketches, from years ago lie moribund in the valley. Some rethinking will be needed before this scene reaches fruition.
  
  
12. The railcar is held in the tunnel outside Urteno to await shunting reflecting its lowly status in the scheme of things. The portal had an argument with the first Grossraumwagen that passed through but things have been amicable ever since. I only discovered this by accident during a session when one of the then banned vehicles passed through.
  
  
13.  The crocodile waits on the bridge, blocking the railcar, whilst the 2-8-2T shunts wagons onto the ferry. This congestion is a common problem at Urteno because the layout is restricted by outside influences. If I had more room there would be 6 or 7 longer loops and more sidings (sound familiar!) There isn't and the AFK has to cope with its cramped facilities.
  
  
14. The 2-8-2T runs over the single slip giving access to the ferry before clearing the points at the north end of the station to allow the railcar to arrive. The four vans alongside are those removed from the ferry a little earlier. Things are arranged so that these are beer vans for the northern communities although today one holds cattle bound for the stations on the valley bottom.
  
  
15.   When a road has been cleared the railcar clatters over the Spegunalago bridge and runs into the station.
  
  
16. Its five in the morning at Fenditavalat. A tardis enabling one to switch times as well as locations is an essential for any-one visiting Altonia. The clock in the Antaupordo was inspired by that at King's Lynn Minster, which shows the tides and the phases of the moon, although the phase of the moon in the aperture is used to indicate Monday on the layout.
  
  
17. This end of Fenditavalat is only sketched in at the moment but the clock stands below the cathedral visible on the right. the track below the clock is the very end of the line.
  
  
18. The crew fire up the pilot, ancient 1-C diesel 303 rebuilt from the sister steam engine which acts as pilot at Lacono, to prepare the goods train which will traverse the length of the line before reaching Relforka. although 303 is kept in good mechanical condition it bears the scars of battle and the grime typical of a working railway. Those with long memories and a good supply of Narrow Lines will remember that that the local constabulary queried the right of the AFK to run the loco along the main street with the engine and cooling fan exposed. It's winter now so the bonnet has been refitted.
  
  
19. Train 2116, the Fenditavalat-Relforka goods leaves the Basabazaro at Fenditavalat, half an hour early at 05.45. Locomotive 525 a Co-Co based on the East German prototypes converted from SG locos, is hardly taxed by its light load of three wagons today. The loco once sported steps, as marked by the recess in the running board but it lost them in an argument with some rocks in the Aepto Gorge. It is booked to receive replacements in the shops. The French pre-war colour light signal shows white for proceed and green for caution. The green over white is a route indication showing that the line is set to the main. This signal is actually interlocked with the points and power circuits to prevent trains disappearing down an abyss if the cassette is not connected for the route to Rivabordo yard or coming to a sudden stop if the circuits are switched to Ospicio. The street cafes obviously open early although I don't imagine that the diesel opening up in the main street does much for those who want a lie in.
  
  
20. Train 2116 reaches Caladonno. The relationship of the line, on little more than a shelf, and the lower level can be determined by the fact that the buildings in the bottom centre are above the tunnel at Lacono. The train is held here as activities at other stations are synchronised.
  
  
21. Attention is now paid to Lacono. The station layout is arranged for multiple simultaneous moves, although these take place one at a time. The clock is clicked round once all the supposedly simultaneous moves have finished. Here the railcar, which has uncoupled from the Post van, gets two diagonal yellows over yellow showing that it can set back into platform 2. The shunter came out of the yard, protected by the ground signal, and set back onto the Fenditavalat goods to remove wagons.
  
  
22.  The railcar pulls forward with an additional coach and Post van. The signal box is unusual on the AFK as it ts the only stand alone box. The city townscape will eventually cover the bare hardboard in the background.
  
  
23. The colour lights controlling movements at Lacono Cittavecchia are a home brewed selection based upon the multiple light displays common on the continent in contrast to the simple British system. Green over yellow over yellow tells the railcar driver that the road is set along platform 3, the next signal is at danger and to proceed at caution as the road is occupied by standing vehicles. As in modern practice yellow here means caution whereas on the upper section of the line caution is shown by green. Its part of the schizophrenic nature of the AFK and, yes, I am a signals nutcase. 
  
  
24.  The AFK uses a simple home made hook and loop coupling over the top of centre buffers. The railcar has backed onto the Post van and has been coupled up. The main point of the photo is to show that the curtain wall of the trainshed is removable and the roof hinged to allow easy access.
  
  
25 The overall picture is visible here. Lacono is the only AFK station where passenger and goods facilities are separated. The blue tack holds a stained glass advertising hoarding, an idea stolen from certain German mainline stations.
  
  
26. Although the shunting here has not finished Lacono is left in abeyance because the railcar overtakes the morning goods at Boursson. The 0-6-2T has moved forward to await the railcar's departure and is being held by the blue shunting signal. The goods will now be shunted at Boursson and then Eromarbordo will receive attention.
  
  
27 Following on from picture 5 loco 808 shunts Boursson at around 05.00. This is the  northern exit from the scene and the siding in the foreground enters the canning factory. The move across the Roman via murranaccia, which is today RN 424, the main road through the province, is protected by the flashing light under the tree. The station building (which is almost a flat) is visible in the background.
  
  
28. Shunting continues until the railcar shuttles round the curve from Lacono and arrives at 06.12.. The vertical PLM sémaphore arm indicates that the railcar can continue its progress.
  
  
29. The so called railcar is quite a substantial train as it runs over the southern half of the line. Here it passes Lamassco, a conditional halt, although as usual upon models, distances have been foreshortened and the silos at Boursson are just visible at the right of the shot. Notice the woman doing her laundry in the dyke. Electricity and running water were relatively rare in rural Europe in the fifties and have still to reach similar outlying areas of Thalnia in the sixties. Boursson's home and distant are standard Verlant code SNCF signals.
  
  
30. The down Fenditavalat-Relforka goods continues its journey ariving at Ospicio d'Helcaraxë at 06.40. Ospicio is virtually undeveloped at the moment and, as is apparent here, has become a repository for bits and pieces. The train will remove the empty van in the siding and this will be the last load of the year before the snows come. Ospicio will soon be a centre of activity as the ploughs and flangers try to keep the line open.
  
  
31. Eromarbordo is plugged this morning. The last railcar of the day yesterday brought in a van of beer and a van of oak chips for the curing houses which need shunting and unloading before anything else can be done.
  
  
32. Attention now turns to Eromarbordo where two railcars await the arrival of the goods. Both were inspired by French NG prototypes, the front one by a Renault KF and the back by a Billard A-80-D, although both prototypes were metre gauge. This is a difficult location to photograph because the lights had to be placed behind the layout at a low level and the untidy wiring for Lacono shows in the 'sky'!
    
  
  33. The morning goods (featured in photo 6) crosses the swing bridge over the creek before arriving at 05.42. This is a dual purpose bridge with the road surface formed of wood, although road vehicles have to pay a toll to use it. The toll booth is behind the train. This was the original starting point of the via murranaccia, the Romans establishing a ferry across the creek which lasted until the coming of the railway. A modern road avoids this pinch point nowadays.
  
  
34. The railcars leave immediately. (Certain traction circuits on the mainline beyond the junction can be switched to the control of the branch terminus to allow this.) The buoys fished out of the navigation channel for repair are visible at left and one of the railway buses that provides a service either to Relforka via Reomer or that goes to Partanzaro, connecting directly with the mainline rail services. is on the right. Notice the red tail lamp on the railcar.
  
  
35. Eromarbordo is a complex place to shunt and moves have to be carefully considered in advance if the station is not to become irrevocably tangled. Although the station is not a deliberate shunting puzzle it reflects the prototype's disinclination to provide more track than was essential to do the job. This would, after all, require unnecessary expenditure The Meyer goes to work. Having pushed various vans about the van of wood chips (for the smokehouse) is shoved onto the quayside.
  
  
36. The Town Staithe holds a large number of lobster pots the contents of many of which are smoked in the adjacent curing houses, one of which is visible in the background.
  
  
37.  For the first time in donkey's ages there is no fish traffic at Eromarbordo. This, inevitably, is the result of the dice throws which show traffic levels and also note the time of the tide which varies throughout the year. Unfortunately the idiot in charge of wagon distribution (wonder who that is) has oversupplied the port with SG refrigerator wagons, one of which blocks the headshunt. The cocoa store sign behind was cut from plasticard.
  
  
38. Having pushed the van full of beer onto the gods loop the engine takes water. It is now about 07.00.
  
  
39. Having taken water the loco sets back onto two bogie vans at the cocoa store. These will be forwarded to the chocolate factory.

  
40. The loco backs down to the cocoa store to collect a couple of bogie wagons bound for the chocolate factory at Lacono.
  
  
41. The two railcars from Eromarbordo have arrived at Breco de Glissent. They split here with the front one going forward to Urteno as train 1441, and the rear one providing a shuttle service between Eromarbordo and Glissent. It also acts as the pilot and will begin to shuffle wagons once train 1106 crosses and train 1441 leaves. The townscape is vaguely sketched in. I know what I want to achieve. The problem, as ever, is finding the time to do it.
  
  
42. The down railcar rattles over the incomplete bridge that spans the Ero. The cattle, which also need attention are wallowing in the shallows.
  
  
43. Returning (eventually) to Urteno at 06.33 the long distance goods has arrived (the open wagons to the right), and the crocodile has detached the train's brake van before pushing it onto some of the vans which were removed from the ferry and are consigned to the north.
  
  
44. The banking engine has meanwhile backed down onto the train engine ready to ensure a prompt departure. Banking from the rear is totally banned when the train contains SG transporters. (A rule bought by bitter experience!) Evidence of ongoing work includes the floating roof on the backscene and the cardboard mock-up of the furniture factory.
  
  
45. By 06.54, slightly late, the train is reassembled and can depart. In reality it will stand for some time as other areas of the layout catch up.
  
  
46. The down goods has been allowed to depart Ospicio well before its booked time and exits the snow sheds alongside the chapel at Ayleha high in the Magorsoromban, as the Altingablecauto is known in Marronĝacan. Freight train timings are regarded as advisory by the AFK. The snow fences are just visible at the top right as is low lying snow on the other side of the valley The conifers are cheapo jobs. Trees are not one of the modelling skills that I have attempted.
  
  
47. The school train leaves Ithilarak a little late, passing the 'butterfly' signal based on a PO prototype (where they were known as 'banjos' due to the circular shape of the disque rouge). The real ones had red silk screens for danger. Mine makes do with red celluloid and it was the very devil to construct inside its glass case. The double slip that stood in the road has recently been removed. It was prone to derailments entering the colliery siding and analysis showed that two normal turnouts could do the job just as well without the complications. The road surface is still awaiting replacement.
  
  
48. A mish-mash of a shot but it shows Lacono's pilot propelling a wagon, purportedly loaded with steel coils, into the industrial zone. The trolleybus wires show up well. This photo has stimulated measures to complete the emasculated  trolleybuses.
  
  
49. Lacono's industrial zone does not really exist and the siding behind the new (1:43 scale) trolleybuses acts as open staging. Some time has elapsed since the loco went to shunt the factories and it now returns with a SG open for loading in the sidings and a scratchbuilt bogie swing roof wagon full of carpets. The AFK is short of transporters and two of these were obtained by the simple expedient of dumping their SG wagons onto the floor at the goods shed where they had previously stood. Eventually such peremptory measures will be consigned to history.
  
  
50. The Lacono-Relforka local goods has reached Sojonno where it delivers the vinegar containers, transferred from the Fenditavalat goods earlier (photo 5), into the cannery siding. The gradients are sufficiently steep to require 'track brakes', the handle for one of which is visible at the bottom left. The train, at the right, is also retained by a brake on the running line.
  
  
51. Having completed the shunting the train ambles downhill towards Glissent, running 15 minutes early.
  
52. Once the railcars have departed (photos 41 and 42) the branch railcar begins to pull wagons from the siding to sort them ready for the down local goods. These are the empties left by the Eromarbordo branch goods (photo 6). To understate matters, the background is incomplete here!
  
  
53. The AFK isn't against cheating providing that it isn't outright impossible for the legerdemain to have occurred. These wagons should have been left on the glassworks siding, but, as this is only a stub, they were left here rather than removing them and then rerailing them. It would appear that is no different from many of the dodges used on micro-layouts where vehicles are often transferred with traversers rather than running through points. I suppose that it is another example of squeezing a quart into a pint pot.
  
  
54. Although this is not a good photo it does show the difficulties that the crew of the local goods labour under. At 07.55 the school train runs through the loop whilst the goods holds the main. The branch railcar sits in the goods siding with the glassworks siding entering the backscene. Keeping out of the way of these trains and getting the work done requires some ingenuity on the part of the crew. The ĉefatrajno is on the blower to Relforka getting the 'line-up' and timings for 11005, the express, as he plans his next move.11005 is on time today, something of a collector's item, and the goods must keep out of its way at all costs. The track plans of each station are shown on the website, although some have since been modified.
  
  
55. The school train stops at Rohaenna, a conditional halt in the Kasatritikakamparoj. This is little more than a level crossing over a farm track. Normally the train just pauses and continues but today, with the photographer present. it displays its ability to (selectively) open its doors. The tin sign, the only amenity at the halt, still awaits construction. Notice the 'milepost' at the bottom left. These are actually placed at 100 metre intervals (centametres, if I remember correctly) following German practice.
  
  
56. The up Eromarbordo-Urteno railcar is nowadays scheduled to run into Aspargo depot to collect a trailer. The diagonal yellows authorise this move. Whether such a move would be legal, without detraining the passengers, on most European mainline systems is open to debate. Inevitably the AFK bucks the trend.
  
  
57. Another poor photo, this time of Aspargo. In the barely discernable background  the railcar couples onto the trailer. In the foreground today's reserve engine, not surprisingly a diesel, stands by the coal stack.
  
  
58. The  railcar and driver composite clatter across the diamonds. The shunter waits to deposit the processed milk van into the far siding.
  
  
59. Meanwhile Jakarutu awakes. The 2-6-0 rack tank runs to the water tower before beginning the day's toils.
  
  
60. The 2-10-2T, piloted by the 2-8-2T, defy gravity and storm the Aepto Gorge with the Fenditavalat goods. No messing here! Stuff your DCC, whatever, this is the real Mc Coy 12V DC. No sound though ~ welcome to imagination!
  
  
61. Finally. having slogged upgrade for thirty odd minutes, the Fenditavalat goods arrives at Ihtilarak on the PFT (loop). The down long distance goods stand on the RT (rektatrako or main). The background is tentatively filled in although it awaits finalising. The village is likely to be replaced for various reasons.
  
  
62. Once the freight departs the crocodile begins to form the down Urteno-Relforka goods. There isn't actually much traffic at the moment as the station waits for empty opens to arrive for the outbound forestry products. The terminating Eromarbordo-Urteno railcar has created congestion. The railcar was held in the tunnel for 10 minutes due to the shunting which was unfortunate as the train, from Lacono onwards, is well patronised by the hospital staff going on duty.
  
  
63. The Fenditavalat-Relforka goods train's earliness has caused slight problems in that it could not properly shunt Ithilarak before the arrival of the up goods. The train is being held outside Urteno to await a path. It is intended to place a colour light signal, to act as Urteno's outer home, where the loco currently stands. It has just crossed the electrical boundary between Ithilarak and Urteno and can easily be dropped down on the local controls as required. The fence offers protection from rock slides out of the forests that surround the Aepto gorge.
  
  
64. With Christmas approaching the postal traffic is building up, hence the heavily loaded morning local passenger train at the left. Relforka shed has turned out No 313 the 2-6-6-0T for this duty and assigned No 222 the 1-Co-Co-1 to the lightly loaded express (train 11005). The junction is just a two road fiddle yard with scenery. A connecting SG train stands at the adjacent platform and the AFK bus goes directly to Eromarbordo. The SG siding, running through the platform, leads to the tranship sheds. The 0·1 post shows that we are 100 metres from datum which is set under the footbridge at the far end of the platform.
  
  
65. Walking into the railway room late in the evening to switch out the lights I saw that Boursson was devoid of any trains. So what? you might think. Well, one of the objectives of the AFK  was to capture the fitful nature of activities at wayside stations. This picture shows a farmer's wife loading a tractor...
  
  
66..... and this shows the Co-op store and siding beyond the running loop.
  
  
67. It is easy to present a sanitised version of the operating session but here, at the south end of Ospicio. we encounter the first major problem. One of the point blades has sprung and has needed re-attaching with the soldering iron. This photo was taken after the repairs...
  
  
68.... which allowed the school railcar to continue it's journey. Here it passes the 'star' as it leaves the snow shelter.
  
  
69. Having sorted out the points problem (68) a derailment occurred at Breco de Glissent  as a wagon was attached to the Eromarbordo railcar in the siding. This was traced to two minor problems. There was insufficient room for the van's bogie to swing without catching the buffer housing at one end and the travel stops for the other buffer's swing at the other end had been set too tight. With roughly 150-170 scratch built items of rolling stock such minor problems are perhaps inevitable. The loco is one of the few without a swing buffer due to space problems behind the buffer beam and the entrance into the sidings is a notorious black spot as it drops away across the cant placed onto the loop. There have not been too many derailments so far and most of those have been due to operator error. Hope that this is not tempting fate for the rest of the session!
  
  
70. The CFS school railcar arrives in Fenditavalat at 07.55. This is a three phase electric railcar as was outlined in an article in Narrow Lines. The CFS serves Calviero, the canton to the north of Altonia.
  
  
71. The AFK's school railcar arrives at 08.05. The normal procedure is for the diesel to tow the electric to the (off scene) yard but, because of the extra carriage, today the procession will be headed up by the pilot.
  
  
72. The school and commuter trains reach Lacono Cittavecchia a little later at 08.30. the one from Urteno (left) will run straight to the shed but the Relforka train will need to run round the trailer as this is not MU equipped.
  
  
73. The express passes Glissent on the loop rather than the main. This is so that the local passenger following this train can easily access the station building. The shunt move at the left is supposed to be stored on the glassworks siding but has been placed on the main to make life easier. Such moves are not 'charged' against the clock which is clicked round for each move. The incomplete loco bears testimony to the AFK's wide selection of diesels based on electric designs. This one was based on a French SG prototype and bears little resemblance to anything that ran on the NG but I like it. It is also a good runner and a strong puller.
  
  
74. The mallet was recently completed, after a long gestation period. It typifies the workaday look of AFK engines and stock. It was originally intended to be based on a Reseau Breton mallet, similar to those running on Pempoul (I wish!) but the leading truck was added to give visual balance. The cylinders are probably too small but that is what you get with cut and shut builder like myself. The lead coach is based on a Swiss NG prototype.
  
  
75. The goods drops down into Urteno. Behind the train the new bypass crosses below one of the sanatoria. The bypass bridge, not yet finished, required re alignment of the sidings and mainline, hence the well ballasted track with new rail.
  
  
76. The cassette, really just a plank of wood, holds the morning Fenditavalat -Relforka railcar as it waits to enter Fenditavalat. The cassette requires removal of a bridge at Caladonno and it rests on the church tower in the village. The screw in the foreground activates one of microswitches in the signal circuits at Fenditavalat.
  
  
77. Once the railcar arrives the pilot pulls the school railcars back to the yard.
  
  
78. There is only just sufficient room for the railcar to squeeze between the city gates and the toe of the point.

  
  
79. Having run round the train the railcar makes a connection with a Post bus before leaving.
  
  
80. The Fenditavalat goods has finished its shunting at Ithilarak and leaves for Ospicio. The viaduct has had one arch completed but the other two remain sketched in cardboard. This one of the more untidy areas of the layout at the moment. There is supposed to be a waterfall below the viaduct.
  
  
81. The 2-10-2T pauses for the station stop at Cadsuiane-Fanhuidol. All AFK scheduled goods trains provide an ancillary passenger service in the brake van upon payment of an indemnity and therefore stop at all stations irrespective of whether there is work to do. As it happens there is no need to shunt the siding today.
  
  
82. The morning railcars retire to Aspargo shed. The one in the foreground will be removed to a nearby shelf, yet another example where the AFK cheats. The railcar behind, barely visible here, is supposed to be standing on a lead to additional sidings behind the shed which allegedly justifies this subterfuge. The oil tanks at the right are removable to allow better access.
  
  
83. The mallet stands over the cattle arch at Sojonno. Although this was one of the earliest scenes sketched in it will probably be one of the last to be completed in the Kasatritikakamparoj. The supports for the almost completed scene above are visible behind the engine. It is a good thing that this scene was left in abeyance because I had not anticipated the need for the supporting strut to strengthen the upper road bed.
  
  
84. Another shot of the local shows how the AFK has scoured Europe for NG  inspiration. From the front we have; French inspired 2-6-6-0T; Swiss coach; Austrian coach with radial axles; Portuguese Post Office, Yugoslav inspired 6 wheel brake; Sardinian full brake. A further generic bogie van brings up the rear.
  
  
85. The Fenditavala-Relforka railcar arrives at Calodonno. The circuits here can be transferred between two sites but I do not particularly like operating from the Fenditavalat side as I am running blind. Once the train clears the town gate it stops and is switched to Ospicio and then run into Caladonno. The bridge is removable to accommodate the cassette. The high snow drifts show that this scene will represent mid winter.
  
  
86. The long distance goods (photo 63) is running so early that it has taken the path of the Urteno-Relforka goods that it should follow and has now reached Lacono at 09.10. The express is arriving alongside the goods yard. The goods will pick up the SG wagons on the transporters in the foreground but it might find that further early progress is prevented by up goods services.
  
  
87. A special train (9401) is running north carrying empty wagons behind the 2-6-2T and is passing Breco de Glissent in the path of the up local goods which will follow it. The bogie flat SG wagon will go to Urteno to receive logs. The peasants seem unconcerned although I suppose that the grass cutter should be removed. It is December after all!
  
  
88. The up local goods (train 2711) eventually arrives behind tender tank 101. This was the first loco built for the AFK, back in the mid seventies. It has been reworked once or twice since then. The down local goods, having now crossed five trains and seen the railcar shuttle depart is still here (at left). Even now its work is not done as it will transfer a grain hopper onto the up train. By now the goods services are getting out of kilter and ad hoc decisions will have to be made about priorities on the single line. This is quite a common situation on the AFK but preference will be given to passenger services as far as possible.
  
  
89. The Urteno banker acts as the travelling pilot for Ithilarak. Here it shunts a wagon into the steeply graded wood siding. Care is needed here as there is a sheer drop behind the buffer blocks.
  
  
90. The banker then runs a trip working down the bank. The AFK rule book allows four wagons to be trailed without a brake van. The rules are very explicit for Varden (shown here). No wagons are to be left standing on the main line because of the steep gradient. The train was marshalled at Ithilarak so that the empty wagon was on the tail of the train and could be propelled into the siding. The white card cut out marks the site of the ski lift.
  
  
91. The morning mixed from Jakarutu, out on the rack branch, has reached Gyorsmorabu, high in the moorlands. Notice the anemometer behind the train. This is one of the few completed parts of the layout. An imaginary journey was recounted in Narrow Lines and is available on the website. Continental Modeller received the same manuscript along with an offer to tailor it to their needs but they indicated that they were not interested. The AFK has never made it into the mainstream press as a consequence!
  
Go to branch journey
  
92. The train has reached the forests below the moor. The deer seem undisturbed by its passing.
  
  
93. The trip working behind the banker has come back to Urteno where the late running Urteno-Relforka goods is finally ready to depart at 09.10. It will simply convey a short train of empties to Lacono on the first step of its journey and it will wait to cross train 11005, the express before it leaves.
  
  
94. The express arrives at Urteno. As it only comprises 3 coaches today it will not need banking. The formation of the train changes with the season. The corridor connectors between the stock are apparent. Although these were not in common use on minor NG railways they were, and are, in use on various European systems such as the Rhaetian. The lack of buffers under the stock is not quite so apparent in the darkness when the train is in motion!
  
  
95. The down railcar has reached Cadsuine-Fanhuidol. This view, taken looking along the entry into the yard, shows the goods bank and a wagon in the siding. The out of focus station building to the right shows the Swiss influences and also the local sign writing (augmented elsewhere with the tinplate signs). The truth is that the roof's ridge tiles are currently a botch job and are waiting replacement so I don't want to show them!
  
  
96. The Fenditavalat freight crosses the curved viaduct at the foot of the Orbon glacier and runs into Caladonno. It has left Altonia  and is now in Calviero canton.
  
  
97. The reasons for Caladonno's late inclusion in the operating scheme are apparent here. Fenditavalat was for many years a stand alone layout with a fiddle yard behind the goods yard. This entailed an entry/exit half way along the layout thus shortening the train lengths that could be accepted. It was realised, late in the day, that an additional loop was needed to augment capacity. The train's front two wagons are pushed into the siding and the loco will return to take them to Fenditavalat in 40 or 50 minutes time.
  
  
98. The local's fireman extends the tarpaulin and protects himself from the winds that blow along the Carramasco Gorge and the Spegulalaguno. The progress of the Swiss carriage, at the left, has been troublesome as it has shown a distressing tendency to derail, although on the second occasion I suspect that it's steps became entangled in some wayside vegetation which was cut back. Its a pity that it cannot scythe straight through it as the real thing would! Operating sessions are, in many respects, regarded as proving grounds for newly commissioned equipment, with a resigned acceptance towards sorting out any ensuing problems rather than undertaken with any expectation of perfection. Other modellers maybe have a different approach. One day I will attain perfection (maybe in the unlikely circumstances of making heaven or alternatively living to 250!)
  
  
99. The down railcar awaits the arrival of the up express at Ithilarak. The Jakarutu branch train waited on the main for the railcar to run into the loop then pulled in behind it. This is standard practice and allows three trains to cross using one loop.  The railway bus waits to provide a connection to the village before travelling over the hills to Melik via Rigua. This is the bus that was displaced from the ferry service at Urteno.
  
  
100. The up express, train 11005, effectively becomes an all stations train north of Urteno. Here it pulls into Varden as a peasant woman leaves the shelter and walks onto the simple platform. Although mainly complete the shelter needs bedding in but this has been left until a signal is placed at the end of the platform. Train 11005 surprisingly had a few problems along the way which required adjustment to the track cant and to the siding point's gauging. I had once thought that this section was completed but, as observed elsewhere, with so many stock combinations possible it takes time to eradicate minor problems. The stock and the loco have happily run over this section independently many times without problem so I assume that this was the first up journey of this combination, unlikely as this seems. I suppose that each operating session is similar to a huge fault finding exercise and that reliability increases over time.
  
  
101. The up local goods pulls away from the river alongside the maize fields. The bogie coal wagon, converted from a Lima SG item, was retrieved from the glass factory. This train generally has an easy run as its down counterpart does all the donkey work to provide the train with trailing pick ups. It is actually running 30 minutes early.
  
  
102. That counterpart, just for the record, finally arrives at Relforka at 10.27 about three quarters of an hour late.
  
  
103. The crew of the local goods might have been having it easy (101) but by the time that they pass Boursson's enirasignalo they have earned their corn. A pulled coupling took roughly 25 minutes to repair. No need for a situation card here. This happened for real. The Evostick bond on the front buffer on the unfinished wagon failed and the train rolled back to the river crossing as the engine and coal wagon progressed.  A good dosing of Evostick, and a five minute wait whilst it cured, solved the problem.
  
  
104. What the populace of Fenditavalat think, as the Basabazaro, one of the town's major commercial areas, is blocked by a goods train in mid morning is any-one's guess. This is the shortened train and the loco will return to Caladonno to collect the jettisoned wagons. The solder blobs on the three phase wiring represent glass insulators.
  
  
105. The 2-10-2T runs onto the headshunt alongside the gate. I have a lovely photo of a Calabriano-Lucane rack tank doing something similar in a remote Mezzogiorno town alongside some-one's fresh washing. I am tempted to replicate this here, although the presence of cars and the pissoir might  make it overcrowded. All I need is an irate housewife complete with rolling pin to complete the scene!  (Found her! One of my French women figures is waving an umbrella for some reason so this can easily be replaced!)
  
  
106. By 10.50 Urteno is busy once again.  The mallet has run round the local on the middle track and the Fdv-Rfk railcar has arrived. As it detaches its trailing vehicles the extra (87), which had been held in the tunnel to give the necessary clearance margins, trundles into the remaining loop, just vacated by the pilot. The latest thoughts are that  the extra will climb the Vulpafaukangulo to relieve pressure at Urteno whilst the logs are loaded. The railway bus makes its connection for Callistano, and no further,  the road over the pass to Luscidato having already been closed by snow.
  
  
107. A farm girl greets the arrival of the Jakarutu train at Gyorsmorabu. The now completed farm vehicle carries a load of sheep. Out of focus in the foreground is one of the snow poles that mark the road. The AFK tanker is just visible alongside the oil tanks in the background. It is interesting to note the more "well built" proportions of these American figures when compared with their Prieser counterparts.

  
  
108. The tractor shunts the yard at Fenditavalat whilst the train engine returns to Caladoono to pick up the wagons that it shed previously. (97) the yard is close to full but some vans might later be transferred to the dairy and the blanket factory.
  
  
109. The railcar has run around the hopper that it towed to Eromarbordo and has shoved it onto the silo unloading pit. A couple of workers natter with the driver as the quayside is tied up.
  
  
110. .As the morning rolls on the up local goods shunts the sidings at Boursson just after 11.00.
  
  
111. The Urt-Rfk goods leaves and Gasafabrikastrato sidings stand almost empty. The movement is authorised by the two yellows on the ground signal. I have run over sixty sessions, not all with the full layout functional admittedly, but this is the first time ever that this train has run engine and van.  The train is of course running late and has swapped schedules with the Fdv-Rfk goods which overtook it at Urteno (86 & 93). Usually the problem is what to leave behind for a later train to forward. Such uncertainties are obviously produced with the use of dice but, as I observed in my Operating series in Narrow Lines, it is these fluctuations in traffic that keep the AFK interesting to run.
  
  
112. The up express pulls into Caladonno on the last leg of its journey. Some cardboard mock ups have been added during the interim,  to get a feel for how the finished village will look. A couple more houses may be added.
  
  
113.  At 11.15 the Lacono pilot  disrupts road traffic in the Karushnastrato as it adds an extra coach to the Fdv-Rfk railcar. This is a daily event as there is more demand for seats south of Lacono in the middle of the day. The train detached the ambulance and Post van at Urteno and these will be worked forward by the local that constitutes the second leg of diagram R7ii, the first leg having been the Fdv-Urt local.
  
  
114. The railcar's departure freed up some space at Urteno, although not as much as usual. The daily routine at certain times of the year is that the local's engine has time to run round the train and attach the ambulance and Post vans because the pilot has banked the train up the Vulpafaukangulo. Here the SG wagon has been placed in the siding for loading......
  
  
115...... but the additional extra train and the pilot ensure that shunting becomes convoluted upon such a restricted layout. It is certainly interesting but whether it is realistic is another matter.
  
  
116. The down railcar crosses the up local goods at Boursson.
  
    
117. By 12.30 the AFK is taking a lunchtime siesta. Trains do not stop running altogether but there is a marked lull as the morning trains reach their destinations before the afternoon trains set out on their journeys. The mallet working diagram R7ii has arrived at Lacono from Urteno with local train 1774 and is shunting the vans and the ambulance. This is a daily event which follows a set routine, although the extra postal traffic today will cause difficulties.
  
  
  
118. This view into the Lacono trainshed shows the ambulance being positioned on platform 1. It is ready to be loaded with patients for transfer to Urteno behind the early afternoon railcar. It is these little rituals that build up the sense of tradition that permeated the real railways. Usually the loco and crew would take a break at Aspargo but the volume of Christmas postal traffic suggests that this will be shortened today.
  
  
119. The extra goods (train 9401 picture 87) has been directed to climb the Vulpafaukangulo to return empty coal wagons to the colliery. Here it passes Varden Lido with the fencing alongside the golf course prominent behind the train. At this time of year the facilities lie idle.
  
  
120. Train 11005 reaches Fenditavalat on time at 11.27 to be met by the Post bus and CFS railcar as usual.
  
  
121. The 2-10-2T departs for Fenditavalat Rivabordo, the small yard alongside the Orbon river (not modelled), along with a wagon for the CFS. The large tank engine completely dwarfs the little Fiat.
  
  
122. The shunter pushes the Post van onto an electrified road and....
  
  
123.... the railcar backs down to take the van across town and then over the CFS to Krelm and a connection with the Ruritanian Express. With another reversal at Rivabordo and an extended stop at Fenditavalat Bordanordo the van's traverse of this small mountain city will have taken over two hours. The train engine waits behind the railcar.
  
  
124. The extra arrives at Ithilarak. Usually this station has a very sparse service lying dormant for much of the day and only sees two mainline trains between 11.00 and 16.00, although the branch train arrives and shunts as well. Given the restrictions imposed by the bank and the increasing freight traffic on the AFK it is becoming more common for extras to work here during the interlude.
  
  
125. The down railcar runs into Relforka at 12.22 to connect with the Thalnain Railway standard gauge services. These are booked to cross one another at 12.45 but the FT has advised the AFK that the down train, connecting with the service from Sarip and giving connections into Narnia, is running 15 minutes late (another dice throw). This will cause problems for train 4213, the Rfk-Fdv mixto standing at the adjacent platform, as it runs on a tight timing. With its large 1-D-1 diesel (based on a Swedish prototype) it might be able to cut the deficit. If it cannot a spare loco and train set are kept in reserve at Fenditavalat for such a situation. Part of the problem is the complex shunting moves called for on the restricted layout in the town square to cope with the dairy traffic.
  
  
126. The Eromarbordo shuttle railcar runs into Breco de Glissent Co-op siding to begin to prepare wagons for the afternoon goods trains. Unfortunately this raises a number of important issues rarely considered by modellers. How long did it take to load or unload a wagon? It is roughly 12.30 and the van was placed in the siding by the same railcar at about 08.00 to be loaded with sacks of grain for Lacono. Would a four and a half hour window have sufficed for this? It assumes that the wagon consignees work rapidly to load wagons which obviously suits the railway but I have my doubts about such short turnarounds. On the other hand the railcar has returned the grain hopper (shown in photo 109) from Eromarbordo on the next available service. This is a bulk load in a specialist wagon designed for rapid discharge therefore such a short turnaround seems accaptable. My own limited experience of the real thing indicates that bulk hoppers can be loaded rapidly but individually loaded components are a traffic that modern railways have lost. Any ideas or info any-one? (As an aside observant viewers will have noted that the road sign has been removed to allow access to the siding - yet another example of pushing the envelope.)
  
  
127. The extra finally concludes its journey, at 13.00, by shunting empties into the steep colliery siding. Referring back to the issues raised in photo 126 it would be easy to run into the wood siding and the goods shed siding, pick up the loads and depart. This doesn't happen as it is assumed that the relevant wagons are still being loaded at this time of day. The loco and van will run into the exchange siding to await developments.
  
  
128. Now we reach what I consider to be the "turn" or the point where the session begins to look towards its eventual conclusion. The CFS railcar, not the same one obviously, (or not in the distant future anyway) has brought in the corresponding Post van that travels southward and this is included in train 11055. In the summer this would be augmented by a through coach as well. As 12.55 approaches the train prepares to depart although it is likely to conflict with the late running mixto and then the fun will begin!
  
  
129. Two ambulances wait at Urteno to meet the railway ambulance's arrival on the dinner time shuttle from Lacono. The coach needs completing, the road vehicles await repainting and an ambulance crew will eventually be provided to complete the scene.
  
  
130. The AFK often stages cameos like this, and that in the preceding photo, as they help to set the scene and indicate what each train does. Here the mixto has reached Boursson and the farm girls wait to transfer their milk into the van trailed by this train every day. The van was based on a FO prototype. The train conveys the milk to the dairy at Fenditavalat for treatment. As it is winter the milk is loaded in the valley communities whereas this takes place in the mountain villages during the summer.
  
  
131. Not the sort of thing one wants to meet when driving a car, even though this is the RN 424! The afternoon Fenditavalat goods takes to the road to cross the Ero at Glissent.
  
  
132. The goods is running at capacity as this view from the rear shows. The engine, just visible behind the tree at the right, is about eight feet away from the van. Unusually there are no SG wagons in the train and the two bogie vans have been transferred from the Eromarbordo branch goods (photo 40).
  
  
133. The mixto encounters its first problem as it is held at Lacono Cittavecchia's signal C to provide the clearance to allow the railcar from Urteno to run into platform 1.
  
  
134. Lacono's pilot adds the sliding wall van to the rear of the mixto. The van is filled with empty milk tanks for return to the dairy. The dairy takes in the milk, processes it and then sends tanks of it to the chocolate factory at Lacono. This tail traffic is always attached to this train which is also authorised to convey horse boxes on the head end. These shuttle between the junction and the racing stables at Lacono, although there are none today, which saves some time and allows the train to leave nine minutes late.
  
  
135. The mixto's late arrival at Urteno has made the express late. Fortunately there is sufficient slack in the timings of the express for it to recover its path south of Lacono.
  
  
136. The Fenditavalat goods arrives at Lacono whilst the mallet collects the ambulance from platform 1 before backing down onto its train in platform 3. Control have told Aspasgo (Lacono's shed) to start up the spare diesel (photos 57 and 82) because there is so much parcels traffic that it will run as a separate train on a path yet to be determined.
  
  
137. The 2-10-2T runs into Fenditavalat town square having left Rivabordo trailing four vans of transfer traffic from the CFS. This is a rather larger load than normal but the loading tables were deliberately set up to ensure that the down goods had sufficient work to do on its way back to Relforka. When the SG van (extreme right) is added to the train it will depart with the maximum authorised load. There is, of course, the extra train waiting in the sidings at Ithilarak  to forward timber products and any excess traffic that the goods cannot carry.
  
  
138. The down Fenditavalat-Relforka goods is ready to depart.
  
  
139. The train leaves 15 minutes late following the complicated shunting needed to assemble it. There is sufficient slack in its timings for it to easily regain time especially as Ospicio is now effectively closed to traffic for the winter. The shunter returns to the yard. One of its tasks will be to trip the three vans (just visible at the right) to Rivabordo before preparing the vans for the mixto.
  
  
140. As the AFK awakens from its midday siesta the afternoon goods are starting to liven things up. The Eromarbordo branch goods arrives at Breĉo de Glissent to run round.
  
  
141. The branch goods stands on the mainline as the afternoon local goods arrives at Glissent behind the 2-6-2 diesel.
  
  
142. The express crosses Akvalando  viaduct near the site of Ghealdan halt, the only evidence of which is the nameplates laying on the road bed at the right.
  
  
143. At Urteno the banker's crew prepare to depart having coupled onto the mixto.
  
  
144. Lacono Gasafabrikastrato yard is very small, as has been noted previously, and it quickly becomes overwhelmed. It is coping here at a notorious pinchpoint, in the early afternoon. The arrival of the Fenditavalat goods, which usually conveys Lacono traffic, outlines the problems. The train stands on the reception road nearest the train shed whilst its loco couples onto the wagons for the north. Meanwhile the pilot is detaching the Lacono wagons at the south end. Only a couple of hours earlier the yard was empty (photo 111).
  
  
145. The congestion in the yard is mirrored in the passenger station. The express has arrived and the spare engine shunts postal traffic. The express is on a slack timing as it is booked to stand for some time to allow the local passenger to clear the section to Boursson. The time lost in crossing the mixto will be regained with a prompt departure.
  

146. The up local goods is scheduled to wait at Breĉo de Glissent to cross the two passenger trains although it can sometimes leave early and get to Boursson before waiting.....
  
  
147..... but today there is are too many wagons to spot so the crew will not get an early finish. It always seems unfair to me that this diagram has to prepare the wagons for its counterpart based at Relforka and thus does most of the donkey work whilst their colleagues get an easy ride. Once again the main road through the village is blocked by railway activiy.
  
  
148. The local passenger is currently leaving Sojonno. At the moment only the basic contours have been sketched in although there is space for an impressive (G scale) tree. Most model trees are too small but this one isn't!
  
  
149. The following express waits in suspended animation near Sojonno. It is often left in this electrical neutral zone despite theoretically running non-stop from Lacono to the junction. Once again the foreground is sketched in but the scenery ends abruptly behind the train.
  
  
150. Mention of the electrical sections brings us to the rather battered main control panel. This has been through a number of revisions, as testified by the blank holes where switches and sockets have been removed. Trains running between sections receive power from the controller on a wander lead plugged into the socket. Throwing the switch to remote (REM) places the relevant station under the control of this central panel., although it is still connected to the individual circuits by the switches at the station. Throwing the switch to local allocates the power to the station concerned, usually for shunting. This is indicated by a LED on the local panel. There are complications however in that Fenditavalat and Eromarbordo cannot be controlled from here and there are also two sections along the mainline that can only be operated from the main panel as no local provision is made. To complicate matters a number of circuits between adjacent stations can also be switched between local panels to help with shunting. It is a complicated system which requires its own folder to document it but it does give the flexibility to run the system. And no, DCC would not improve on this. It is and will remain Direct Current because this is easy to understand and troubleshoot. Adding micro-processors to points and locos is not only expensive but way beyond my technical comprehension, although I don't doubt that I could physically install a chip. Having finished my rant (!) I could also point out the juxtaposition of the high level scenery at the left reaching below the low level line which emerges at the right of the panel.
  
  
151. The local emerges from the hidden section which runs behind the high level scenery at Abateĵo de Narrasson, another unfinished location which has previously eluded the camera. The village houses a Cistercian Abbey which owns the agricultural land in the area which was reclaimed from marshland. It farms some of it directly and lets tenants cultivate the rest of it.
  
  
152. Two lay workers tinker with a combine at the Abbey's machinery repair depot just across the tracks from the main complex.
  
  
153. This view gives a better idea of the scene. A potato field stands at the right  and the road rises to the abbey and village in the background. The hole will eventually be hidden by a small station building, the hen house for which is just visible.
  
  
154. the express arrives at Relforka on time to make its connections with the FT. The local which preceded it stands in the near platform. The fiddle yard now needs clearing before it can be used again.
  
  
155. The afternoon goods plods up the hill where the local ganger stands aside from walking his length and packing the track. Once the train has passed he can check his snares to see whether there is anything for the pot tonight. Judging by the rabbit population he will be unlucky to come away empty handed!
  
  
156. Having pushed the mixto to Ithilarak the banker returns through the Aepto gorge to bank the afternoon goods.
  

157. As the afternoon begins to draw in the last Jakarutu train of the day toils up the rack.
  
  
158. Included out of interest is this photo showing the banker standing on Urteno's circuits (suspended animation once again) with the rack train above. Breĉo de Glissent is directly below. Re photo 150 it took three attempts to start the rack train due to the complex electrical arrangements!
  

159. The branch loco enters the combined shed and station at Jakarutu.
  
  
160. Train 9102, the parcels extra, leaves Lacono at 15.45 behind the rod drive 2-6-2 diesel. The mists and darkness of a December afternoon are closing in (ie I found the fog card eventually!) and services will probably be slightly delayed as a result.
  
  
161. The timings for the parcels train were worked out from the train graph and a list of intermediate timings. The AFK frequently runs such trains so the effort invested in these documents has paid dividends. The path was fairly simple to work out the only problem being the need to cross the up goods (train 2719 photo 155) which necessitates a 25 minute wait at Boursson.
  
  
162. The crossing set up by the timetable in photo 161 takes place at 16.30 as the mists come down and the light fades. The station staff have made sure that the signal lamp, which lights both spectacle plates, is lit. (It is actually showing red here despite the arm being slightly out of register.) The parcels train driver has also been informed of the Office's oversight. It needs to load the Christmas mail at Glissent as well!
  
  
163. By mid afternoon another of the AFK's daily rituals is playing out. The shunter pulls a sliding door wagon, filled with pasteurised milk for the chocolate factory, and the milk van, filled with washed empty churns, out of the dairy. This is obviously another subterfuge in that the vans have been placed onto the loop by hand as the dairy only extends for 3 inches under the arch. The vans are in the wrong order so the shunter has to re-arrange them, placing the sliding wall van is at the back to allow it to be detached at Lacono. The sharp eyed will notice that the van's doors have a different pattern for the strengtheners from that in photo 143. Three vans were made to this pattern, although none is completed at the moment, and those overlays made me forswear off making anymore, although the braces on the bulkhead didn't help either!
  
V
  
164. Once the vans have been switched Rivaborda is allowed to send up the railcars. The CFS electric tows the AFK's diesel into the square. They AFK's provides a service for the school children, although with today being Monday, there is no need for the extra coach as the boarders will have settled in for the week. (See photo 10) The CFS train connects with the mixto and provides the last service through to Krelm on the Ruritanian lineas well as supplementing the earlier school railcar form Fenditavalat Norbordo.
  

165. Another daily event to which the pedestrians and car drivers of Fenditavalat are inured. The electric railcar that leads the procession into the square is not equipped for MU working. It detaches, pulls forward over the spur in the foreground, and the diesel pushes its trailer up the hill towards the town gate. The diesel then pulls forward leaving the trailer to roll down onto the electric railcar by gravity. This move was not anticipated when the layout was built and so the peg temporarily does brake duty, although a track brake will be fitted before the square is cobbled. Retrospectively fitting anything under the baseboard surface when there is a station below (Urteno) is a pain in the proverbial and so the evil day is consistently put off.
  
  
166. The banker makes a stop at Varden on the way back to retrieve the wagon left earlier in the day (photo 90). The foresters are obviously on piece rates! As in many places on the layout the scene is over reliant upon the background although this view can only be obtained with a camera. Pity I did not notice that the lorry is doing a balancing act! That platform edging alongside the inset track looks dodgy as well!
  
  
167. The banker returns to Urteno just after the RFK-FDV goods has finished making its set outs. The train is booked to be banked if needed but as the load is 140t it will be allowed to tackle the bank unaided. As was mentioned earlier tonnage is tied to axles (1 axle =10t) so in reality it comprises 5 wagons and a bogie open.
  
  
168. Attention turns to Lacono meanwhile as the pilot deals with the goods left by the Fenditavalat goods and prepares the down local goods and the pick ups for the express running between Fenditavalat and Relforka.
  
  
169. One of the problems for the pilot, aside from the cramped yard, is the necessity to also deal with tail traffic. As the evening rush hour approaches the Urteno commuter/school train runs into platform 3 from Aspargo. The pilot has had to leave the yard and waits in platform 2 to attach the Post van.
  

170. The mixto stops at Calodonno. You are probably all fed up with seeing this train by now but the railcar in the short loop provides the only scheduled crossing of the day at this wayside station. As I noted in the Operating series in Narrow Lines, crossings were a rarity on the majority of NG systems and it is only because the AFK has taken busy prototypes such as the Rhaetian or Roglagsbanan as its inspiration that the layout's intense operation can be justified. The majority of stations on the Lough Swilly, for instance, were only scheduled for one crossing per day which hardly presents an exciting prospect for a small single station layout!
  

171. The Fenditavalat goods is allowed to leave Urteno 20 minutes early and here climbs a previously unphotographed part of the Vulpafaŭkanagulo. The avalanche shelter still lacks a portal and the viaduct may well be tricky to complete. The rack branch hides behind what will one day become a rock wall.
  
  
172. I try to keep the different locations synchronised as far as possible but Eromarbordo has fallen behind. It is still roughly 15.30 here whereas everywhere else has progressed to 17.00. This isn't a problem as the station is at the end of an isolated branch and all the shunting can take place without worrying about other trains' arrivals and departures. The Meyer pushes an empty bogie van alongside the cocoa store on the quayside.
  
  
173. The AFK has a small number of loaded vans with opening doors which are swapped back to their place of origin as required. The van full of fish boxes has been exchanged with the incoming consolidated loads wagon and will wait at Eromarbordo for tomorrow.
  
  
174. Traffic is light today and there are only two empty vans to take out.

175. Shunting continues at Lacono as the car is delivered to the end loading dock. The SG flat loaded with pipes displays another AFK cheat. Wagons placed here are assumed to be available for loading at the goods shed platform, which clearly they aren't.
  
  
176. The Karbaflanktrakoj (coal sidings) at Urteno almost act as a satellite yard to Gasafabrikatastrato yard at Lacono. Once again they illustrate the necessity of space compromises as they hold nine wagons at full capacity and were a very late addition to the plans here. They take their name from the coal wagons that collect at the foot of the incline on the way back to the mine loader rather than from acting as a coal unloading point.
  
    
177. The pilot crosses to the furniture factory to remove today's loads.
  
178. Fenditavalat's square is once again a throng of activity as the mixto arrives.
  
  
179. The LAC-RFK commuter/school railcar crosses the RN 424 at Boursson protected only by the flashing light (which is on!)
  
  
180. The loco for the down local goods receives clearance from the ground signal to reverse into the tunnel at Lacono. As an 0-4-0TT without valve gear it dates back to the seventies and was the first motive power of the AFK. It has been through a number of incarnations and is now fitted with a Fleishmann mechanism in the tender. It is now dated and should probably be replaced with larger motive power but it still soldiers on.
  
  
181. The evening railcar shuttle from Lacono terminates at Urteno. The driving trailer will be largely redundant on the return journey and uncoupled at Aspargo. The Post van will transfer the traffic from Lacono and load for Fenditavalat. This daily diagram is justified by the internal communications needed between the various faculties of the University of Marronĝaco which was established in the fourteenth century at Fenditavalat, then the provincial capital. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries annexes were established at Lacono and Urteno respectively.
  
  
182. The down mixto has been formed up in the Fenditavalat Basabazaro. The train performs the opposite functions of its counterpart but its connections with the FT are tight which necessitates a carefully choreographed set of moves to ensure its 17.30 departure. As was observed in photo 125 a spare set of coaches and a loco is kept at Fenditavalat as a contingency in case of late running.
  
  
183. The local goods finally finishes its shunting at Boursson and waits in the PFT (loop) to leave. By now it is of course dark and foggy but that is for the observer's imagination to provide! Unusually the train is running at its maximum tonnage this evening trailing 160t on the drawbar. Most of the down train's work is done for it  although the van of bottles (right) needs moving into the factory which is accessed by the siding in the foreground.
  
  
184. The schoolchildren's railcar over the Altingablecautoj crosses the Aepto viaduct just outside Ithilarak. The colourful background at the bottom left is supposed to represent autumnal trees. In yet another quirk of the AFK the signal is based on a pre-WWI German prototype
  
  
185. The FDV-RFK  goods rolls into Urteno 20 minutes early at 17.30. It will pick up the two SG vans loaded with furniture (at the right) once the railcar returns to Lacono.
  
  
186. The up goods has finished its work at Ithilarak but has moved over into the loop to allow the extra to complete its work in the sidings. Both trains will wait for the mixto before leaving.
  
  
187. Having picked up the two SG furniture loads and dropped some empty barrels for the brewery at Karamspur the Relforka goods crosses the Spegulalaguno at Urteno. The train is now running  roughly one hour early, and there was some debate about this course of action. The problem is that the small yard at Lacono can also expect to receive the heavily loaded local goods (photo 183) at the same time, placing pressure on the facilities.
  
  
188. The train loco, crew van and the two SG wagons have been detached to shunt over onto the SG wagons on the left which are bound for Relforka.. The pilot removes the rest of the train to free up the loop for the incoming local goods. Unfortunately the two main platforms in the passenger station must be left free for the mixto to cross the up railcar but the cut is short enough to temporarily store in platform 1.
  
  
189. A spotter's view over the wall of Gasworks Street. Having been held on the mainline for 10 minutes (in theory ~ because there is not enough space to allow this) the local arrives on the now clear loop. The 2-10-2T stands on the left and the pilot returns from the passenger station at the right. There are now roughly three dozen wagons in the station if SG vehicles and bogie vans are counted as two as the AFK does.
  
  
190. The last passenger train to traverse the whole length of the line enters Glissent and passes the Eromarbordo goods as it waits to return to Relforka. Off picture the last railcar for Eromarbordo waits in front of the goods. Any passengers from Altonia's interior wanting to go to the port in the late evening will have to catch the railway's road bus at the junction.
  
  
191. The fog has put seven minutes into the railcar's schedule by the time that it reaches Boursson. The down local goods is waiting on the main line for it to pass so that it can finish shunting.
  
  
192. Lacono's pilot pushes wagons into the goods shed siding from the north end of Lacono. A rarely used connection, this is the only time that it has been used 'today' as the yard is usually shunted from the southern end. The provision of occasionally used pointwork was more common on the prototype than it is on our layouts as we obviously try to use our models more intensively than is strictly realistic. One of the attractions of having such a large layout is that some semi-redundant connections like this can be modelled.
  
  
194. Whilst on the subject of little used connections, two sidings have not been shunted at all 'today'. One of these is at Gysmorabu, high on the moors of the rack branch. The loading tables are set to produce two wagons maximum per 'week' and sometimes the trains pass by without shunting throughout a whole 'week'. It is this contrast with the busier areas of the layout that I find interesting. The other siding not to have been entered all day is that at Cadsuiane-Fanhuidol (photo 95).
  
  
194. Returning to busier locations, the schoolchildren's railcar has returned to Urteno at 18.30. This train is something of an orphan once it reaches Ithilarak, and the remaining children leave it, in that it serves no real purpose and only gets in the way of more important trains. It has been held outside the station as the banker/pilot sorts out the various wagons to be picked up by the extra train at Ithilarak in addition to those waiting to be loaded onto the ferry (behind the railcar). It is likely that a few of the medical staff at the regional hospital will make the railcar's journey more worthwhile when it departs for Lacono.
  
  
195. The Spegunalaguno ferry arrives from Karamspur at 18.55 and the wagons are removed. During the day railway vehicles are barred as the ferry provides a RORO service for road vehicles.
  
  
196. The down local goods (photo 191) has finished its business at Boursson and departs. It is now roughly two months since the session began and some locos, such as this one, are beginning to behave erratically. On arrival at Sojonno it was removed to have its wheels cleaned and they were found to be filthy despite having been cleaned before departing Lacono. I do not suppose that matters were improved by the decision to redistribute the materials stored beneath the layout into some newly acquired drawers, thereby disturbing dust etc.
  
  
197. The railcar has now lost 9 minutes due to the fog and is held at Lacono Cittavecchia's signal C to allow the mandatory overlap for the down mixto to enter the platform in the distance. The fog is only affecting the valley part of the AFK at the moment whereas the higher ground is clear.  As has been noted the mixto is on a tight timing and will lose time as it runs southwards, but the FT connections will also be affected.
  
  
198. Having detached the sliding door van the mixto departs as soon as the railcar clears the mainline. The mountainous landscape of the upper level is visible behind this, the middle level, although it is not so noticeable in reality.
  
  
199. Train 2423 has recently been added to the timetable after difficulties were experienced with wagon distribution around the system. Today it has loaded to the maximum and is double headed as the loco from the extra parcels train works back to Lacono (photos 160 and 162). The 3 empty SG vans will go to the factories at Lacono and the NG vans will go to the brewery at Karamspur via the ferry.
  
  
200. The extra train scheduled to deal with forestry products has formed up at Ithilarak, although most of its load is not logs at the moment. It has been held due to the lack of space at Urteno because the loop is ironically occupied by the wagons that this train will pick up ( photo202). It will depart once the railcar arrives. The cardboard at the right is a mock up of the station.
  
  
201. The up goods passes the down mixto at Boursson. I suppose it is a sign of the times (the AFK is set in the sixties) that all the motive power is diesel.
  
  
202. The banker attaches the Post van to the Fenditavalat railcar. This is the last train up the bank and revives memories of travelling on the last train up Lickey on Saturday evenings in seventies, when returning from far flung football matches~ pushed by a brace of 'tractors'!
  
  
203. The RFK-FDV goods blocks Fenditavalat's square in the evening having arrived forty minutes early.
  
  
204. In something of a collector's item two wagons with consecutive numbers find themselves next to each other as the down local goods shunts at Breco de Glissent.
  
  
205. As usual the shunting is interrupted by passing trains and the loco waits in the siding for the mixto to pass after which it will attach the sugar beet wagon to the train. The farm machine is bound for Eromarbordo but will be taken to Relforka for marshalling into tomorrow's branch goods.
  
  
206. Train 9181, the forestry special, heads down grade from Ithilarak once the railcar has passed (photo 202).
  

207. Lacono's pilot shunts the milk and cocoa vans into the factory. This is 'across the road' from the Post Office. A friend who was running the engine suggested that the unpainted figures could be the subject of a caption writing competition, something along the lines of "I've been standing here for four years without any clothes on dear and I'm getting cold." Any improvements on this?! The figures actually act as a handle for a removable part of the platform to allow access to the point microswitches when required. The progress of the vans can be traced through photos 39, 40, 132 and 144).
  
  
208. The last LAC-URT shuttle arrives at Urteno. The railcar is authorised to convey wagons for Eromarbordo which is why it has stopped on the same road as the wagons from the ferry, although it will have to fish the beer van out for itself. The platform barrow is acting as a brake now that pegs can no longer fit over the inset track.
  
  
209. Prior to the railcar's departure from Lacono the empty wagon train (photos 199 and 201) has to stand briefly on the mainline. Once the railcar had departed it pulled into the passenger station as there was no room in the yard.
  
  
210. Immediately afterwards the down FDV-RFK goods pulls out of the yard (as seen from the tunnel leading to Aspargo).
  
  
211. The composition of the train has changed completely since it left Fenditavalat. Its journey can be traced in photos 137, 138, 139, 185 and 187.
  
  
212. The mixto arrives 10 minutes late at Relforka but still makes its FT connection as the SG railway also suffers from the fog. The last up passenger service waits in the adjacent platform.
  
  
213. Finally the passenger service is underway and arrives at Breco de Glissent 12 minutes behind time due to the late connections forced by the fog. The train is notorious for its late running, as was usually the case in the days when connections were held on BR. The down goods from Fenditavalat stands on the mainline. By this time of night the station staff have gone off duty and the block instruments are worked by train crews. The goods train crew have already set up the path for the railcar.
  
  
214. The last train over the Altingablecautoj is the railcar. The weather is clear on the heights tonight, in contrast to the fog that blankets the valley section of the line. (Imagine bright moonlight and no lights showing from settlements!)
  
  
215. The last down passenger service stops at Ghealdan. The railcar runs to Eromarbordo as there is nothing to connect with at Relforka, although there is little demand for its services once it leaves the mainline. It often trails a beer van as this is the easiest way to get vans from the brewery to the port town. Unfortunately it missed a van of wood chips (for the smokeries on the quayside) which was marshalled into the delayed special at Ithilarak (photo 206). This will probably now go to Relforka and have to wait until tomorrow for delivery.
  
  
216. Sometime later the down railcar reaches Boursson where it crosses the late running up train. The signal is one of a select few semaphores that have been fitted with a working light.
  
  
217. The final train of the day runs into the square at Fenditavalat. By now it is 22.10 and trains have intermittently blocked this main thoroughfare since 05.00 in the morning (photo 18). This, as I have observed before in NL, is probably one area where the AFK pushes the envelope a little too hard. Given that some of the AFK's inspirations effectively functioned as quasi SG systems in remote areas I have fewer qualms about the almost 24 hour activity elsewhere.
  
  
218. At roughly the same time the forestry special is shunting wagons at Urteno.
  
  
219. Once the shunting is finished the empty vans train (photo 199) which has been held in the tunnel, a recurring theme, trundles into the station.
  
  
220. Although not quite synchronised with the other photos the 1-C-1 rod drive diesel pulls out past the Post Office with a van for the carpet factory.
  
  
221. The pilot meanwhile is pushing another SG van into the clear to take to the carpet factory. (The Blu-Tac is a temporary substitute for proper retaining shoes.) NG modelling sometimes involves modifying and scratchbuilding SG equipment as here.
  
  
222. The designated Lacono spare engine finally parks alongside the coal dump at Aspargo shed (see photo 57).
  
  
223. The last railcar arrives at Lacono as the pilot pushes a horse box into the siding below the signal box. This road through the single slip is another little used connection but it is essential for flexibility. Although some progress has been made in sorting out the wagons brought in by various goods trains, at least on the west side of the station, the arrival of the railcar and its remarshalling will interfere with  further sorting for a while.
  
  
224. The banker pays a final visit to Varden, just after 22.00, to leave a wagon for any timber traffic tomorrow. There are rails in there, honestly!
  
  
225. The final up train of the day is cement train 7729 booked off Relforka at 22.39. The engine is backing down onto the train which has been brought into the loop by the shunter. Relforka is a fiddle yard of course and this is not the usual procedure. Trains are usually shoved up the platforms by hand away from the loading area (to the left). The SG wagons required the shoes on the transporters to be reset which involved a lot of fiddling so the loco was backed on in a prototypical manner. The loading process took around ten minutes ~ hardly suitable for an exhibition layout! There was one bonus. A dodgy pick up was discovered on one wheelset of the loco which was adjusted before the train left.
  
  
226. The Eromarbordo railcar rattles through the fog of the night between the maize fields of the Kasatritikakamparoj. There are few passengers and this is really a balancing move to get stock into position for the next day.
  
  
227. The cement train passes the same spot. The big 'gon' (as the Americans call them) came from MTH and really needs repainting into brown. I know that these were available but I could not get hold of any and this seemed to be a better option than the bright pink offering! In the "if it isn't one thing its another" stakes the open sideswiped the plywood on the inside of the loop at Glissent. Whether it will be possible to pare this feature (which screens the work bench) anymore to allow clearance will have to be seen. It has already been attacked once.
  
228. The up railcar finally arrives at Urteno at 23.15, seventeen minutes late. 
  
229. Immediately after the railcar arrives goods train 2118 departs. This is the pair to the up train added to the timetable to bring in SG wagons for various industries. Train 2118 collects empty NG wagons and returns them to Relforka for loading overnight. It leaves Urteno with two empty grain hoppers (one of which is a converted van) which will be dropped at Lacono so that they can be transferred to the agricultural Co-ops for loading.
  
  
230. The last action is playing out at Eromarbordo. The Billard was run into the siding earlier so that the run round was clear for the last train.
  
  
231. The Renault runs round the beer van which it  pushes into the goods siding before coupling up to the other railcar ready for the morning.
  
  
232. Control decides to annul train 2118 at Lacono as there are no vans to return to Relforka. Instead it will depart early in the morning trailing the empty bogie SG coal wagon used to supply the gasworks. The loco runs onto another rarely used siding intended for unloading oil and cement to the depot and factory across the road. There are supposed to be pipelines and a conveyor belt underneath the road. The train running flexibility is typical of the AFK. If there is flood of traffic; run an extra train. If there is not enough traffic; cancel the train. I suppose that the only inconvenience is to the loco crew and, from experience, they seem a fairly itinerant species happy to work overtime.
  
  
233. The last crossing of the day takes place at Boursson where the cement train is signalled along the mainline. Once this train has departed the forestry extra will reset the road and clear the signals for their own departure.
  
  
234. The train arrives at Relforka in the early hours of the morning and it will only be an hour or so before the next day's freights depart. The SG shunter  waits to cross to the other side of the station.
  
  
235. The pilot pushes the SG coal wagon onto the siding for unloading. This is supposed to take place using a portable conveyor extended across Gasworks Street which is closed for this purpose in the middle of the night.
  
  
236. The last action of the day. In an act of symmetry the pilot gets a clear signal to proceed to the shed at 00.20. More than likely it, or a replacement, will return to begin forming tomorrow's trains in about two hours time. Who would live near a marshalling yard?!  (Proceed to photo 1?)
  
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