Starting with "Quinntopia Metro"

Hello! And a belated "Merry Christmas"! Well, I have not made as much progress as I had hoped by now, but with the holiday preparations and all that, I have not had as much hobby time as I had thought! But this unplanned delay is a good thing as it gives me time to consider or reconsider how to accomplish different aspects.

Case in point is the "metro line".  The metro will be an elevated line that I am imagining will snake through the city.  As such, before any city planning can be done, the exact track layout for the two-track metro line needs to be determined (which is also constrained by the outer loops of the 'main line railways).

My original approach was to use Unitrack curves - the 216 and 249 radius curves -which would then connect to Atlas flex track for the non-curved sections. I decided not to use existing Kato viaduct sections as the walls are a bit too overwhelming and would block the trains.  I wanted something a bit different, so I knew I would be scratch-building some sort of viaduct/elevated structure.  So my original concept was to use 1/8" thick PVC foam board (one of my materials of choice!) as the base, and then mount the Unitrack to this material - with some sort of siding to make it look like an elevated trestle or viaduct system.
However, as I was browsing online various prototype photos of the U-bahn, Chicago El, NYC's elevated sections, I began to see the problem.  The Unitrack ballast just won't look quite right and is not really a feature of elevated track. So..what to do? I also notice that a lot of elevated sections tend to be nothing more than girders, ties, and rails. Not a lot of 'flat space'.

So what I decided to do was abandon Unitrack and go with some classic snap track - in this case I'll be using Minitrix's R1 and R2 radii curves (which also means much tighter curves at 194.6 and 228.2 radii - which should be better for my cityscape than the wider curves. I am a bit concerned that these might be TOO tight, but as this is going to be a metro system, it's not like I'll be running any TGVs or traditional passenger cars on this line - well, at least that option is gone now!).

So I started with a new plan for my viaduct. After several different attempts using various easily available and cost efficient materials, I ended up with a plan that will use Evergreen Scale Models 1/4" thick plastic strips along with 1/4# wooden dowels available at the hardware store.
Across these structure sections will rest 0.80x0.80 square styrene strips that will support the actual track.
I'm using a 17mm spacing between the ends of the ties for each track, which will be identical to the doubletrack spacing of Unitrack sections, which seems like a useful benchmark.
 Using my handy chopper (after a couple of years of gathering dust!) I'm back in business slicking strips of wood to make up the main structure!
And so, the initial straight section is complete!  If this approach works out, then I'll proceed to creating the curves and the station section using the same basic format.


Benchwork Update

A quick update....I've been working non-stop for the past two weeks, so this weekend I finally got some time to put together the benchwork.  Of course, a trip to the local hardware store (and $196 and change)  was necessary to get the necessary 1/4" plywood sheets to cover the benchwork! And viola! I have the foundations for the new layout all set!
My plan is to lay out some track and see what I've got, then start figuruing out where the track will go.  I already know it's going to be a large loop, but with a significant sized modern city in the center, I don't think it will have that 'loop' feel.  

The plywood panels are only placed on the benchwork temporarily, as they will be removed and cut to allow for raised elevations for the city level.  I also expect to lay down at least a 1" base of styrofoam on the bottom level.  Maybe.  I really don't love working with that if I don't have too.  I may end up using risers for the roadbed and styrofoam surrounding it...we'll see.  The concept with this layout is going to be very urban, so not sure I'm going to need a lot of 'terrain' that would have natural rises and such.

This is starting to get fun!