For a long time now I’ve been thinking about a different approach to modular railroading.
I keep envisioning something like sectional track only in module form. Kind of like Kato Uni-track gone awry. The module would be track, roadbed, and a little scenery as standard but balloon out for scenes like a station, mine, what ever.
What I like about this idea is that it would be easier to transport the modules and because there is less scenery per module, the modules cost less to build, they would be lighter, and they should fit together with other modules with less obvious difference from module to module.
The problem I keep running into with this idea is that unless there is some control you also end up with all of the problems of sectional track: no easements (horizontal or vertical), possiblity of introducing S-curves, and easy to introduce wiring issues like hidden reverse loops.
Of course several of today’s standards support something that comes close to allowing this but, for good reason, they require a section of track that is straight near the interface of the module.
If you wanted to make a 180 degree curve using modules built to one of these standards the resulting curve would be strange, jerky, and most unprototypical. On the other hand if you allowed the curve to go right to the end of the module like typical sectional track, the curve would be fine but not if you connect one of those modules in a different arrangement. If you connect one of them to a straight you would have no easement. If you reversed one of the modules you would have an S-curve. You get the idea. Problems.
The obvious answer is to build the curve as a series of module sections with only the two ends being module interfaces. This works but think about how many more combinations of track would be available if each unit were a module.
If we could find a way to manage it, we could make each one a module. Lets say we used four units to make the curve. Two units would be just curves and two units would have easements one, at the Eastbound end, the other at the Westbound end. Now add another 45 degree curve and you have a 225 degree curve. Take out the two 45 degree curves and you have a 90 degree curve.
Anyway, I like the idea but have been totally unable to come up with a way to manage it on an international or even national level. Of course a local group could control it but I have no use for the idea of yet another standard–unless it is meant for widespread use.