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About Horton

Scale: 4mm : 1 foot
Period: 1995 - present
Location: Fictitious
Size: 32' x 11'
System: DCC

Horton is an ambitious Modern Image OO layout designed to be very different on the exhibition circuit. This is modern image from track layout through to signalling and operation. Lots of trains on the move and operations at the centre of the layout. Horton recreates the real railway as it is now. As well as a busy, complex station, fully bi-directionally signalled with freight reception sidings and a small fuelling depot, the layout also has long scenic sections of plain line with automatic signalling.

Imagine if you will, rolling countryside and through cuttings, tunnels and on embankments, the peace is broken by a quadruple track railway. Suddenly, a Class 66 hauls a train of containers for export into Horton Vale, routing along the high level lines before being directed into the freight loop, segregated from the main lines on the steep gradient up to Horton station. At the same time a 5-car Virgin Super Voyager thunders past at 125mph on the low level lines whilst in the down direction it is passed by a freight train made up of car transporters. The four aspect automatic signals returning to red behind each train before clearing up through the aspects. In the distance a single car class 153 DMU trundles along the branch line to Scadbury Town, eventually crossing over the main lines before coming to a halt in the single station, which has a modern Network Rail modular station building.

Back in the Signalling Centre, the layout is on VDU screens and trains progress as red lines along the screen. Routes are set by a mouse. This is the modern day railway we seek to recreate. The layout is fully signalled with Roger Murray Colour Light Signals, augmented with those built by the layout team, fully track circuited (for train detection) with MERG FTC modules and has electric control of all mainline points via SEEP motors and MERG CDUs. A Personal Computer (PC) provides the user interface to control the signalling and route setting, together with a comprehensive configurable computer based signalling interlocking. All route setting is carried out using entry-exit style route setting on the PC. The software also incorporates a form of Automatic Train Protection (ATP) to prevent trains passing most red signals.

The traction supply is Digital Command Control (DCC) utilising the Lenz system. The software is the Model Railway Computer Control Centre (MRCCC) software, written by the late Steve Parascandolo. Additional Client PCs can connect to allow multiple operators to control or view the layout. The layout is interfaced to the PC using the Remote Panel Control (RPC) System designed and made available through the Model Electronic Railway Group (MERG).