Using Hidden Staging Areas in Your Model Railroad Yard Layout

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The proper way to construct a model railroad yard layout has been a point of contention for modelers for decades. For many years, the tried-and-true method was to create a balloon-shaped staging yard complete with complex turnouts and switches.

Eventually, though, pioneers of the field such as Tony Koester realized there was a better way to create a model railroad yard layout that takes up less space and is easier on the eyes. For example, in constructing his magnificent HO model of Allegheny Midland Railroad, Tony took advantage of hidden staging yards to simplify the process and remove some of the chaos at either end of his layout. In this lesson, you’ll learn about the benefits of a model railroad yard layout that utilizes stub-end staging, and discover the expert advice you need to create your own hidden staging areas.

Creating a less chaotic model railroad yard layout

At Model Railroad Academy, we’re big fans of making things easy on ourselves, considering that this isn’t a hobby where you can cut a lot of corners. So when it comes to building a model railroad yard layout, we’re always going to opt for the design type that grants us maximal space and keeps things nicely organized. For that, we choose hidden staging yards, or stub-end staging.

To demonstrate the benefits of creating a model railroad yard layout that utilizes hidden staging, Tony takes host Allen Keller behind the wall of his model of the AM, and shows him how easy operations can be when you use stub ends on your layout. With this kind of model railroad yard layout, Tony is able to line up nearly a dozen trains without any need for turnouts, switches or reorganizing, and it all happens out of sight of the operator.

There is, however, one consideration you must make in regard to the distance of your model railroad yard layout from the entrance of your visible track–do this, and your operators will thank you. See what the secret is, then try out hidden staging yards on your next layout and see what you think!