Ikuno Station has a number of interesting features. It is the only Japanese layout at the club – probably the only Japanese layout in West Yorkshire. I know of no others locally. It is also a layout made entirely out of plastic. The baseboard is a sheet of roofing plastic, the sort that is often found on conservatory roofs, glued onto lengths of square-section plastic that otherwise finds its place in fall pipes that take rainwater from gutters into the drains.
The track is British Peco set track and flexitrack. Japanese trains on the national rail network run on 3’6” track. There are other private railways in Japan that run on standard gauge (4’8½”) and a few on 4’0” gauge. Japanese manufacturers of model trains have taken the decision to simplify all this and make all their N gauge trains run on 9mm track – the same as British and continental N gauge – and to a scale of 1:150 for all trains except Shinkansens which are manufactured to 1:160 scale. The result of all this is that Japanese trains are similar in scale and size to British N gauge.
I got into Japanese trains quite by accident when looking for something new for my otherwise British model railway at the time when Graham Farish stopped manufacturing in Britain. My son and I got a couple of Japanese trains at a shop in Sheffield and liked the way they looked and the way they ran. A few years later I started buying modern-image Japanese diesel railcars from a shop in Tokyo over the internet, that has since built up into the collection that runs on Ikuno at AVRMC. I have a set of diesel units that represent trains running on Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan. I also have a set of diesel units from other areas of Japan, notably the south-western islands of Kyushu and Shikoku, and the mountain valleys of Japan’s main island Honshu.
These have a variety of colour schemes, and attract quite a bit of attention at our open days.
The main station on the layout is called Ikuno only because that was the shortest name in the set of name choices that came with the Kato station building, and the one I chose to stick on the model. The layout needed a name and that seemed an appropriate choice. The station dominates the front of the layout and has four platforms – two for the exclusive use of the mainline, one for the branch line and one that can be used by either the branch or the main line. The mainline is a single track line that enters the station from either end. The branch line leaves the station on the right, curves back on itself going gently uphill through the middle of the layout and then curves again to run along the back on the layout.
One of the nice things about the layout is that trains are visible on the branch line all of the time, whilst others run into Ikuno station via tunnels that lead to a fiddle yard at the back of the layout. It’s not difficult to keep something moving and in sight most of the time, which works well for people watching the layout at exhibitions and open days. Ikuno Station has been seen at exhibitions in Shipley, Keighley, Halifax and Middleton (Leeds), as well as AVRMC’s open days.