The Ruston Light Railway layout is a micro layout 2.67 square feet in size, measuring 28.5 inches long x 13.5 inches wide which is designed to fit in a storage box only slightly larger than the layout measurements. This could almost fit the description of a ‘nano layout’ as defined by Chris Nevard on his website. My original idea for this layout was to see how small I could build a micro model railway layout, using standard (that is, un-modified) motive power, rollingstock and trackage, that was still interesting to operate.

Passenger train @ Ruston Town

The layout depicts ‘both ends of the line’ (rather than the trackage in between the ends) of a British standard gauge light railway called “Ruston Light Railway” which was once a British Railways operated branch line that managed to escape Beeching’s axe by being re-classified as a light railway. The layout having two fictional but plausible locations: Ruston Junction and Ruston Town, a few miles distant from each other. The Ruston Light Railway interchanges with the mainline somewhere between London and Bristol.

The layout track plan for the layout is shown below.

Ruston Light Railway Layout Track Plan

The layout has only 2 turnouts (2 Peco Setrack left-hand turnouts), and about 33.5 inches (85cm) of other track. The turnouts were purchased specifically for this layout, and the other trackage is recycled from previous layouts. I had thought of using a double slip instead of two turnouts to try and add some extra siding length, but as the cost of the 2 turnouts was much less than the cost of a double slip (or even a single slip, for that matter), I decided to sacrifice any extra siding length I might have gained by using a double slip in favour of less expensive track.

Motive Power

Motive power is very small switchers such as the Ruston and Hornsby 48DS. A Hornby DCC Ready 48DS and flat wagon was purchased specifically for use on this micro layout. There may be the possibility of adding an extra small steam engine, the the layout really doesn’t need any an extra locomotive.

Hornby 48DS shunter with flat wagon, being tested on my Petra “Pizza” layout..

One thing I did notice during testing was that the Hornby 48DS did not have very good slow speed control with the controller I tested it with (an old Hornby P5P controller). So in the otherwise very simple wiring for the layout I added a 470 ohm 10 watt resistor. This dropped the voltage to the track roughly in half, which has produced good slow speed control for the 48DS. I also added a switch to allow for bypassing the resistor if I have a DCC system powering the layout, or if I have a loco on it that has good slow speed control with the P5P controller on the layout.


For passenger services, a 4 wheel brake van has been purchased, with the possibility of a short 4 wheel coach also being purchased in future. For freight services, a small collection of few 4 wheel freight wagons is sufficient. I have the flat wagon that was included in the 48DS purchase, and have also purchased a 4 wheel ventilated van, and over time a few other wagons will likely be purchased.

As far as testing of the concept of this layout, I have run the 48DS and flat wagon around the layout, and with the few more carriages I might purchase, it should be an interesting little layout to operate providing about fifteen to twenty minutes or so of operating time. I am thinking I might also add an auto reversing module to the layout for the passenger services so I can activate it and just watch the trains go back and forth on the layout if I want to.


Because the layout is so small, it didn’t take very long to add some reasonable scenery to the layout. The layout is almost fully sceniced, with a number of buildings and scenery features including a few small hills and undulating landscape.


Operation of the layout is operating of short trains ‘back and forth’ between the two stations on the layout – Ruston Junction and Ruston Town. So far, I have designed an operating session that includes the following:

  • An early morning passenger train, Ruston Town – Ruston Jcn – Ruston Town, with the brake van as the passenger car.
  • A mid-morning passenger train, Ruston Town – Ruston Jcn – Ruston Town, with the brake van as the passenger car.
  • A light engine run from Ruston Town to Ruston refuel point and back to Ruston Town.
  • A midday passenger train,Ruston Town – Ruston Jcn – Ruston Town, with the brake van as the passenger car.
  • A goods train, which has to be only 1 car long due to siding length and because the motive power is captive in the spurs at Ruston Town, which means that only 48DS and one car can fit in the siding there. This means that this train has to make multiple journeys to and from both ends of the layout, shunting cars at Ruston Jcn to get the next car for Ruston Town.
  • A late afternoon passenger train, with the brake van as the passenger car.

To view Blog posts related to this layout, go to the Ruston Light Railway Micro category.


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