Modeling A Shortline.Part 1. is a free Model Railroad Discussion Forum and photo gallery. We cover all scales and sizes of model railroads. Whether you're a master model railroader or just getting started, you'll find something of interest here.


In this discussion we will be discussing class 3 short lines and not "paper" short lines that is own and operated by Class 1 railroads using their equipment.
First what is a class three short line?
By ARR railroad classification a Class 3 railroad is:
A railroad with an annual operating revenue of less than $10 million
What does a short line do?
A short line is an independent railroad company that operates over a short distance serving few towns or small cities and industries that require rail service.
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In the mid to late 1800s every small town and city wanted rail service so the communities would petition big railroads to build through their cities and towns however some times a major railroad may have not been interested and bypast that city or town or in some case flat refused to build a branch line to that city or town..So local businessmen would decide they will build a railroad to serve their communities and would seek financing from banks,investment companies,stocks to build their railroad.
These short lines would haul general freight or perhaps be tied to a industry such as veneer lumber,stone,fire clay,pulpwood,coal,lumber mills,lumber finishing mills(not logging operation) and other such industries.As these natural resources dried up so did the bulk of the short line business and these roads fell on hard times and most cease operations within 20 years after they was built never having made a profit due to paying off loans and operation costs..Of course the coming of automobiles,trucks and paved roads killed what freight and passengers they had left.
Also during this same time period there was several strong short lines built that flourish and are still in operation today.
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For these type of short lines I would prefer a low driver 2-6-0,2-6-2 2-8-0 or 4-6-0 and model the 30s or for a stronger short line into the 50s and maybe have a GP7 or RS1 or RS3..Passenger service would be the daily mixed train regardless of era.
This operation would be straightforward after switching our train into town and industry order we would couple onto the combine at the station load passengers-if any-and whistle off switching industries as we go and leaving LCL freight from the combine at the stations along the way and perhaps pickup cream and milk at the "milk" stations along our route which maybe no more then 2-3 farmers waiting at a grade crossing.
Of course the stronger short lines may have cease milk operations and all passenger service.
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Modern short lines from spin offs and mergers.
To my mind these are the more fun type of short lines.These railroads are the result of the Staggers act that deregulated the railroad industry and lead to many marginal profit lines being lease or sold to short lines or Port Authorities sent up by local communities or business men and then either lease to a short line operator or perhaps a use locomotive is bought or lease and operated by the Port Authority.Of course the best path is to lease the line to a short line operator.
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This concludes part 1.In part 2 we will discuss choosing a location,road name,industries,locomotives and operation.

Steve B

There is a short line near me in Preston, RIBBLE RAIL is there name, they collect tankers of hot bittumen from the interchange with the main british rail network and deliver and unload them for Fina at the processing plant down the line, they use an assortment of 0-4-0, 0-6-0 diesels
this is one of the center cab units
The railway is also home to the other part of RIBBLE RAIL which is known as RIBBLE STEAM RAILWAY, this branch host's a new museum, station, engine shed and workshop on one site

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