I thought I’d introduce a location that at first glance might seem a little bit of an unusual choice for a module and that unusual choice is Sliedrecht station in the Netherlands.
You can just about make out the platforms and building of Sliedrecht station in the centre of the image above. The local, mostly single-track line serving the station is on the left and the double-tracks behind the sound barrier on the right are the Betuweroute; the international, freight-only rail line mentioned in the title of this post (more on the Betuweroute in future posts).
Despite being quite a run-of-the-mill location, Sliedrecht has always struck me as a great location for an unconventional (freight-only routes are a little more uncommon in Europe), watch-the-trains-go-by module with the added interest of a separate single-track line with passenger service and local freight workings…
Sliedrecht is a town in South Holland in the west of the Netherlands, one of the most densely populated regions in the World. Sliedrecht station is located on the mostly single-track MerwedeLingelijn rail line, that runs between the towns of Dordrecht and Geldermalsen. Incidentally, the original station building visible in the photograph below now appears to be used as a restaurant called the “De Heren van Slydrecht”.
The photograph above gives a good view of the station and the Arriva trains Netherlands, Stadler GTW EMUs that operate on the MerwedeLingelin. Piko produces N scale models of the Stadler GTW EMUs, which at the time of writing, are still widely available from US and European retailers at quite reasonable prices. You can find out more about the models here. The electric locomotives and the freight wagons that are hauled over the Betuweroute are produced by a range of manufacturers and are widely available.
Here’s a map of the area around Sliedrecht station:
For such a densely population region it’s an interesting mix of farmland and Netherlands suburbia. If you were creating a module based on this area you’d probably want to have the farmland at the front to ensure a clearer view of the station . This also means the houses and buildings behind the tracks act as a nice back-drop (depending on your opinion of Dutch architecture) for the module.
If you follow the tracks to the West (left) you’ll see the line eventually diverges from the Betuweroute, passes through the Baanhoek area where there’s another elevated station (Sliedrecht Baanhoek) and crosses the Beneden Merwede river on a through truss bridge with lifting section. About a kilometre further south, a single track spur leads off to a large industrial area/chemical plant. Any of these features could make interesting modules that could be connected to the Sliedrecht station/Betuweroute module/s shown in the scale diagram below.
Although the station and platforms just about fit onto a single module (105x40cm) you’d need quite a few additional modules to accurately represent the whole area. Some selective/artistic compression might be in order, perhaps bringing the road bridge further to the West (left) if you wanted a scenic break and reducing the size of the gaps between the local line and the Betuweroute and also the tracks and road.
I haven’t been able to find any images of the station building that could be used to help scratch-build a model but the Google Streetview and satellite imagery for the area is very good.
I’ll end the post with a couple of photographs of freight trains on the Betuweroute with Sliedrecht station in the background, which actually gives a pretty good impression of what a Sliedrecht module could look like.