The Columbia and Western Railway

Mark Dance's Columbia and Western Railway
The N-scale Columbia & Western is a model of the Canadian Pacific’s torturous Southern mainline through the Kootenay Mountains of South-Eastern BC. Constructed in four levels, the layout has 6 scale miles of mainline with a pusher grade in both directions, and a 2 scale mile branch line which simulates rail/barge operations on Slocan lake. The layout is 100% operational and about 75% sceniced. The layout, like the prototype, features ore and lumber industry traffic with several large mills on the modeled portion. We use TT&TO for train movement and tag-on-car for car movement. Scheduled trains are run Westbound while all Eastbounds run as extras. The through freights are normally 20 to 30 cars led by 3 to 4 locos. Like the prototype the locos come from a variety of builders with approximately 50% of Fairbanks Morse design. The layout can accommodate up to 8 operators plus a dispatcher. Positions can include Nelson yard and hostler positions, branch line/barge and pulp mill switching jobs, plow trains and pushers, and through and wayfreights. Easy to use, Digitrax UT4R radio throttles are available for mainline freights. The Dispatcher controls the Train Order signal indications directly through the Digitrax Loconet bus and governs the fast clock, normally set at 5:1. Changes to the C&W since Vanrail 2017 include completion of a number of key structures like the Nelson station and Diesel Shops.
Published in:

MR Aug.2016

RMC May 2013

RMC Feb.2014

RMC March 2014

GMR 2016

MRP 2012

MRP 2016

MRP 2017

MRP 2020

May-June 2012

July-August 2014

November-December 2017

CRM Aug-Sept 2012

DO 2-2014

DO Oct 2014

LDJ 38

Columbia and Western

  • Prototype Location---CPR Boundary Subdivision
  • Interchange---Great Northern, & CPR
  • Era---1970
  • Scale---N
  • Accessibility---48 inch duckunder
  • Size---20 feet by 16 feet
  • Website---Marks Flicker Page    Mark's Youtube page
  • Prototype/Freelanced Scale---Prototype
  • Length of Mainline---7 scale miles
  • Yards---Division point Nelson
  • Passing sidings---6
  • Motive Power---Diesel (50% FM, 40% GM, 10% Alco)
  • Scenery Complete---75%
  • Car spots---75
  • Train Lengths---15 to 25 cars
  • Track Construction---Peco code 55
    • Dispatching---Timetable and Train Order
    • Communication---VTec cordless phones and operating train order signals
    • Control---Digitrax Radio with support for WiThrottle/EngineDriver
    • Clock Speed---5:1
    • Car Forwarding---Tab on car
    • Session length---3 hours
    • Crew size---8 plus a guest dispatcher
    • Session atmosphere---As casual as TT&TO can get

    • Dispatcher---Manages the movement of trains over the railway using the timetable, trainorders, clearances and a trainsheet.
    • Nelson yard west---Switches the west end, acts as yardmaster clearing trains in and out, making up and breaking down trains, classifying cars and communicating with the dispatcher.
    • Nelson yard east---Generally switches the east end, switches local spots and assists the yardmaster.
    • Kraft Switcher---Works the Kraft paper plant at Castlegar
    • Nakusp Way Freight---Works the Slocan and Kaslo branches by way of the Slocan Lake train barge.
    • Road Crew---2 to 3 jobs from a mixture of pushers, limited stop through freights, unit ore trains and the Cascade Turn way freight.