Matt Snell’s earliest interests in northern New Jersey railroading began as a railfan in the early 1980s. When he started his model railroad layout planning, he turned to what he most familiar with – Conrail New Jersey in the 1980s, and modeling the gritty industrial areas of north Jersey.
In Part 4, Allen Keller discovers Matt’s inspiration for the CNJ, and while it shares aspects in common with other model railways builders and operators, his is different in that he operates equipment from 4 different time periods over a twenty year period – until the split of Conrail between Norfolk & Southern and CSX. He enjoys the different equipment and paint schemes of the early 80s, the late 80s, early 90s and finally just before Conrail ended. He runs the most interesting and common equipment of each time period for about a year before transitioning to the next phase of equipment and livery. This allows him to use almost all of the equipment he’s collected over the years over a four year period before returning again to the early 1980s.
Matt tells Allen he doesn’t have a favorite in those four time periods, that each is different and interesting in its own right. His model railway layout is built for operations, and he manages to include commuter traffic, Amtrak and shortlines in interchange traffic in his selective compression of time and equipment. He used the 1978 employee timetables to select what he wanted to operate.
Matt considers himself now more a modeler than railfan, as he finds modern prototypical railroading to be largely homogenous in motive power and rolling stock.
Here is another source for model railway scenery tips others have employed successfully.