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North Kerry LIne Layout Plan

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There seems to be some interest among some members in the North Kerry line so I thought I would share a layout plan I came up with. The layout didn't get built due to the lack of traffic variety on the prototype and concern about acessability and room for operators. It is designed to fit my 13 foot 6 inch by 9 foot railway room. This plan is a first draft, were I serious about building it I would redraw it in a larger scale to work out grades and elevations and to be sure everything would fit. The layout is double deck, Ardfert and Abbeydorney are represented, connected by a helix. The station track layouts, although compressed in length, follow the prototype and bridges and level crossings are all in prototypical sequence. Minimum radius is 24 inches although wider radius have been used where possible. Points are whats known as #6 over here which I use on my current layout.

Trains from Tralee enter the layout under a over bridge, from a four track fiddle yard which is the lowest point on the railway. There are photos from this bridge in Michael Baker's "Railways of the Republic of Ireland" and "The Railways of Cork and Kerry". The prototype climbs out of Tralee and while I dont know where the grade ended, I have maintained it as far as Ardfert station in order to provide clearence for Tralee fiddle yard so the main line can run over it saving valueable space. The line crosses a small culvert, the signal protecting Ardfert station gates and the backdrop depicts the mountains of the dingle penisula. Imagine a sound equiped A class with an empty beet train here! Ardfert has a high level beet loading bank, goods shed station building and level crossing. I believe there were also cattle pens here. After Ardfert the line resumes its climb to clear Tralee fiddle yard crossing a minor road on a decked girder bridge, the Wills kit seems a close match for this, and enters the helix under a stone overbridge carrying the Ardfert abbeydorney road. The helix is drawn at 24 inch radius and using a grade of 2% would give a rise of 3 inches per turn or 4 and a half with 3%. Experiments would have to be done to ensure the motive power used could handle a reasonable train on this grade. It seems generally agreed on that deck seperation an double deck layouts should be in the region of 14 inches.

The line enters the second deck from the helix and proceeds to Abbeydorney. Here there is a passing loop, one platform, a high level beet loadindg bank signal cabin, goods shead, cattle pens, level crossing and crossing keepers cottage. The Feale River bridge ia a few miles further north but it seemed a shame not to include it if sufficent clearance can be maintained between decks.

The North Kerry changed very little over the years so the layout could represent many era's. The high level beet loading banks were built in the sixties or maybe very early seventies I believe but otherwise apart from station colour scheme's not much would have changed. There were frequent accomodation crossings on the line and these should be modelled along with appropriate farm houses and buildings, either three demensional or on the backdrop where they seem appropriate.

The line lost its passenger service in 1963, but one could employ modellers licence and extend it a few years. At that time there was I believe one passenger ,a Park Royal railcar, and one goods train each way between Tralee and Limerick. When I got to know the line as a teenager in the mid seventies operation was reduced to the Listowel goods three times a week. During the beet season the line got considerably buisier with two beet trains a day from Tralee to Abbeydorney one in the morning and one in the afternoon with a run to Fenit in between. I suspect that limited siding capicity was the reason for the two trains. If my memories are correct a train of about 40 or 50 beet wagons arraived in Tralee overnight and the wagons wrere dropped off in the North Kerry yard.The morning train also handled beet pulp, a by product of sugar prossing which was used for cattle feed. This was carried in covered vans and allocated to farmers who grew beet. Often loaded beet wagons which were rolled clear of the loading bank fouled the crossovers connecting the sidings and a cable was used to pull them clear. I remember the Listowel goods passing the morning beet train shunting at Abbeydorney. Power for the beet trains was generally an A class, however Gerry Mc Mahon of Tralee showed me photos of a pair of 121's on the line in the last year of operation. GM's and Sulzers were employed on the goods trains at various times.

Were I to build this layout I would initally set it in the sixties during the beet season and use modellers licence to run two passenger trains each way daily in addition to the morning and afternoon beet trains and the North Kerry goods each way. That's five trains a day each way and lots of shunting.

Anyone considering building a double deck layout might consider consulting Tony Kosters book "Designing and Building a Double Deck Railroad" by Kalmbach publishing. While a little thin on the nuts and bolts of construction it is a wealth of information on design, scenery, layout height, deck seperation and so on.

I hope this will be of some entertainmentto the group.



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Excellent idea - I can visualise a dirty silver "A" and a long line of loose-coupled wagons rattleing along there... and an AEC railcar on the passenger! I had plans at one stage of a similar thing based on Newcastle West - the two lines leaving it would be a helix themselves to a train leaving for Tralee would eventually come back in from Limerick! Somewhere out on the helix would be Barnagh. Maybe I'll get a start made on it SOME day!

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The section of line around Barnagh was truly wonderful with bridges, embankments and of course Barnagh station itself and the tunnel. Maureen and I got to pass that way this past October and I was sad to see it is now mostly obliterated by road improvments. The aera would make a stunning model and lets hope we wil see it done some day. I seem to recall hearing or reading about operations over the summit involving bankers or splitting trains. Has anyone any information on this?

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