What originally drew me to Tomix track and products was Tomix’s system to create tram track. The tram tracks are moulded plastic covers that fit over Tomix track and in behind the rails. The stone pattern used closely resembles the tram track of the Nagasaki Electric Tramway. The Nagasaki and other Japanese tram lines use T rail and with the tram track covers you can create a convincing tram scene.
The Tomix 3076 kit may not be the prototype you know. Large systems of single ended streetcars are half a world away from Tomix’s designers.Ralph Forty defined the Japanese tramway in Sayonara Streetcar. All lines were stub-ended requiring double ended equipment. Ralph Forty was not aware of any single ended equipment in Japan–ever . I think this explains why Tomix 3076 has a crossover in the kit and the railway siding style turnout . The closest major system I can think of outside Japan is Melbourne which also is a double ended system.
Each box of Tomix 3076 Tram Rail Accessories Kit contains enough covers to build a 180 degree curve in all three radius (C103, C140 and C177), enough covers for 280mm of double track, pieces to build a mini-rail PR140-30 turnout and a 90 degree crossing. There also is a passenger shelter and illustrated instructions with good diagrams, but all text is in Japanese language.
The tram track covers are made only to fit Mini Finetrack C103, C140 and C177 curves and S140 straight sections. Only the smallest cars will run around C103 curves so I have phased this out on my layout. (Of my tram cars the various Tokyu Setagaya articulated cars from Modemo are my favorites. They are quiet, smooth and dependable running trams.)
First cut the pieces off of the plastic sprue. To assemble the tram track I used Scenic Accents Glue which is a tacky glue. I have tried other glues, but Scenic Accents seems to work better. Permanent glues seemed to dry out and allow the pieces to rise up, which interferes with the operation of the trams.
Its always a good idea to have a clean cloth handy while working with the glue during the assembly to keep fingers from getting sticky and to keep glue from seeping up from under the pavement piece onto the rails.
Once glue has been applied it is important to allow the glue to set before moving the tram track sections.
For straights take a couple of S140 Tomix 1021 track sections. Glue the tram track crosspieces under the track section with a couple of small dabs of glue. Position the track on the crosspiece with the crosspiece at about the third tie and snap the track into place. Put a small dab of glue on the sloped edge of the ballasted track base just below the rails. You’ll do this at each end. I also put a dab of glue on the underside of the pavement pieces at each end and in the center and then place it in position. Once you have the two side pieces attached, you can put a couple of dabs of glue on the underside of center piece that goes between the rails and put it in place.
The crosspieces as cut off the sprue allow for double track straights or curves. For single track crosspiece simply scrible and cut the crosspiece in the middle at the scoring.
To get the track covers to clip into place the crosspiece can be no further in than the third tie on curves. Again place a dab of glue on the crosspiece. There will be four–one at each end and two in the middle–like the photo above for 60 degree sections. You can create 90 degree sections by scribing the scoring on the underside off the pavement pieces with a hobby knife.
The turnout covers are designed for crossovers or railroad type sidings. The typical 90 degree turnout familiar to modelers in North America is very rare in Japan.
Switches are a little bit trickier to assemble because the crosspiece that goes under the Fine Track sections is designed only for double track sections. Side pieces where the tracks diverge at an angle will not have support from below. You can use the crosspiece in the two track section beyond the switch.
The Tomix tram rail accessories switches leave a couple of small gaps in the pavement at the switch mechanism. Other modelers have tried to remedy this but I am not aware of 100% successful results free of derailing cars.
On previous versions of my tram layout I tried to adapt the track covers to 90 degree turnouts by cutting and fitting. The track cover pieces have supports under the surface that allow the cover to fit snug to the rail and flat at the base of the track. But for fitting and cutting these supports are in the way. You often cannot lay the section flush for measuring because of the supports and when you cut may have to cut through the support while trying to cut to shape. I eventually came to conclusion it was easier to adapt to Japanese tram track configurations.
Once you have glued your track sections together and allowed them to set you can set up your tram line. Be sure to push the track sections snuggly together. If necessary clean the track with a cleaner like the Life Like track rubber or emery board.
Floor level platforms are a universal feature of Japanese railways. This feature can probably be attributed to the early involvement of British civil engineers in building Japan’s earliest railways.
One of the challenges I encountered in planning for may layout was determining the length of various platforms offered by Tomix. Internet retailers don’t always have the dimensions on their listings which makes it hard to plan a station. Catalogs are not always available when you are looking for the information.
4001 25mm wide, 350mm long
4003 25mm wide, 420mm long (extension)
4031 30mm wide, 700mm long
4032 30mm wide, 280mm long (extension)
4009 37mm wide, 720mm long
4010 37mm wide, 280mm long (extension)
4011 37mm wide, 280mm long ( island ends)
4021 37mm wide, 700mm long
4022 37mm wide, 280mm long (extension)
4057 37mm wide, 700mm long
4058 37mm wide, 280mm long (extension)
4059 37mm wide, 280mm long (extension)
The Tomix platform packages include sticker sheets and detail parts for finishing the scene. Just add figures, trains and a good backdrop scene. The Tomix 4057 platform set also includes pieces to create a track level passenger crossing within the station.
Allowing for the 541-15 switches at each end and the platforms it takes over 43 inches (about 1092mm) lengthwise to set up Tomix 4009 platform. This platform comfortably accommodates a 4 car train.
I often read people have heard of Tomix Fine Track but have never seen pictures of the track.
As standard N gauge track the gauge is 9mm. Tomix Fine Track has a base 18.5mm wide and the track center with a double track line is 37mm. The rail height is Code 83.
There are no rail joiners to be attached to the track as with Atlas track. Fine Track’s joiners are already in place on the track in the package. The rail joiners are buit into the track section but they can be pulled out for connecting to other makes of N gauge track.
Tomix does not offer flex track or HO gauge track.
Tomix offers these straight tracks, packaged in sets of 2. Lengths are given in millimeters.
Tomix 1021 S140
Tomix 1022 S280
Tomix 1023 S72.5
Tomix 1024 S70
Tomix 1025 S99
Tomix 1026 S158.5
Tomix 1092 is a box of 10-S280 sections.
Tomix 1099 is a package of two S18.5 and two S33 sections.
There are five radius of curved track (not taking into account elevated track and Mini-Fine Rail)–243mm, 280mm, 317mm, 354mm and 391mm. These are packaged with two pieces of track in each package.
Tomix 1121 C280-45
Tomix 1122 C317-45
Tomix 1123 C541-15
Tomix 1124 C280-15
Tomix 1125 C243-45
Tomix 1126 C354-45
Tomix 1127 C317-15
Tomix 1128 C391-45
Tomix 1143 C243-15
Tomix 1144 C354-15
Tomix 1145 C391-15
Tomix 1150 C605-10
The Tomix 1150 is a short curve section that allows you shift the track around obstacles like an island platform. Back to back two C605-10 sections take 210mm lengthwise and move the track center 18.5mm to the side. On my layout I have used the C605-10 sections to widen the track center enough that I could use the new Kato island platforms for a local stop.
The most complex train stations in Japan generally are those of Japan Railways, better known as JR. Tachikawa Station is a JR station in western Tokyo located 37.5 km from Tokyo Station . The JR East Chuo line rapid and local service passes through Tackikawa Station and the Nambu and Ome lines terminate at this station.
A look at the track plan from Japanese Wikipedia shows numerous crossovers, island platforms, two through tracks, a passing loop between platforms 6 and 7, and several storage tracks. Platforms 4 and 5 allow Chuo Line locals to move out the way of Chuo Line rapid trains.
Like many major Japanese train statons, Tachikawa Station has a department store located close by. In this case there is a Lumine Department Store in the top floors of the station.
By far the busiest of the stations covered in this blog so far, Tachikawa Station handled a mean of 156,143 passengers a day in 2007. This number has risen every year since 1999 when the mean number was 126,791 passengers a day.
Seibu Higashi Murayama Station in Tokyo is another example of a Japanese railway station at a junction point. Trains of the Seibu Shinjuku line and Seibu Seibuen line stop at this station and the Seibu Kokubunji branch line terminate here.
Japanese Wikipedia provides a track layout diagram. Y-switches lead trains into three island platforms. Shinjuku line trains use platforms 4 and 6, with platforms 3 and 5 used for passing expresses. All trains exempt Limited Express stop at Higashi Murayama. The 7.8 km Kokubunji line uses platform 1 as its terminal. Platfrom 3 is also used by the 2.4 km Seibu Seibuen shuttle line. This Seibu Railway Map shows the location of the various Seibu stations.
Daily mean on and off traffic at Seibu Highashi Murayama Station was 43, 930 passengers per day in 2007.
Seibu Tokorozawa Station presents a more complicated track arranagement than the Kintetsu Hinaga Station and has lots of modeling potential. The two main lines of the Seibu system meet at Tokorozawa. Shinjuku line trains use platforms 1 and 2, while trains on the Ikebukuro line use platforms 3, 4 and 5.When the Seibu Lions baseball games are in season, baseball express trains are operated through Tokorozawa. In 2007 an average of 94, 609 passengers used Tokorozawa Station each day. This Seibu Railway Map shows that the Tokorozawa Station is where the red and blue lines cross.
Japanese Wikipedia provides a track layout diagram for Tokorozawa Station. Two double track main lines pass through the station with some crossovers and stub tracks to allow operational flexibility.
Tokorozawa provides a moderate sized prototype station with two mainlines passing through that could easily be modeled given sufficient space.
Traveling south from Nagoya on the Kintetsu (also known as the Kinki Nippon Railway) on a Nagoya Line Limited Express, the second stop is Kintetsu Yokkaichi station. Connecting with the Nagoya Line st Yokkaichi station is 762mm Utsube Line also operated by Kintetsu. Two stations west on the Utsube line will bring you to Hinaga Station and the junction with the Kintetsu Hachoji Line, a one-station branch line.
This is a small Japanese style station that would be easy to model. The Utsube Line is one of four remaining 762mm gauge (30 inch gauge) lines in Japan. The rolling stock was upgraded in the 1980s, but retains old components so the relatively modern looking cars make traditional growling sounds associated with old time traction.
Heading from Yokkaichi this Japanese Wikipedia photo illustrates how Hinaga station appears as the train approaches the station. LIke most Japanese train lines, the passing sidings are in the stations. Hachoji line trains take the line to the extreme right. Hinaga line trains have opposite platforms either side of the track level passenger crossing.
Features typical of Japanese train stations include floor level platforms required by law in Japan, the yellow platform edge markings, the track level passenger crossing with black and yellow crossing gates, and vending machines on the platform.
Another Japanese Wikipedia photo gives a closer look at platforms 1 and 2 with a Hachoji line train in the background. The track level crossing is in the foreground and these are common on many Japanese train lines. There are black and yellow crossing gates at track level. In the background the Utsube line returns to single track and continues on to Utsube station 5.7 km or 3.5 miles from the Yokkaichi terminal at the Kintetsu Nagoya line.
Here is a closer look at Kintetsu 263 in Hinaga Station enroute to Yokkaichi station.
Traffic is rather light on the Utsube line and Hinaga Station was used by 908 people a day in 2005.
Japan’s Japan Railway (JR) network and major private railways operate an impressive network of high speed Shinkansens, fast mainlines, single track branch lines and lightly traveled local lines. Major private railway interurbans, some with lines of tramway heritage that feature rolling profiles and tight curves, operate long frequent trains with stations are 1-2 Km. apart in urban areas.
Japanese major private railways operate several different categories of local, semi-express, express, limited express and rapid service over a single pair of tracks. Strategically placed four track stations with off-line sidings allow fast trains to over take slow trains. Generally each individual line operates as a separate entity without complex operating patterns with diverging and converging trains. Apart from JR Freight, freight traffic is now rare on Japanese railways.
A basic type of station arrangement is the station with side platforms. Diagram 2-1 is an arrangement frequently seen on local private railways. On the lines like the Kotoden the single track main line splits into two tracks with Y switches. Diagram 2-3 is found on the Tokoida Shinkansen line. Local Shinkansen trains pull into the siding while making a stop, and express trains can pass on the mainline during the local trains station dwell time. Diagram 2-4 is more typical of JR main lines with center tracks for express trains.
As early as the 1930s Japanese private railway interurbans had developed express service and were looking for ways to increase capacity without substantial capital investment. This led to the creation of four track stations where fast trains could overtake slower trains. An example of this is found in diagram 5-1. This photo from Japanese Wikipedia shows the four track arrangement at the Shonai Station on the Hankyu Takarazuka main line.
On Japanese train layouts four track stations are key dispatching points. Tomix offers several products to create a four track station. The Tomix 4009 platform set creates a three section platform 720mm long and 37mm wide. To accommodate this platform set Tomix offers the Rail Pattern B track set.
Over the next few entries I will show the track layouts at several Japanese train stations both simple and complicated.
Once I had set up several of the early versions of my Japanese train and tram layout I realized that there were several details I had not included in the layout that kept appearing in photos of Japanese trains I was looking at. Things like crossings in stations, hundreds of bikes parked outside stations, four track stations were missing even before I started detailing with figures, vehicles, signs, road fences and other scenery.
Over the next couple of weeks several items on these features of the Japanese train environment will follow.