Recent conversation on the Model Railway Layouts forum suggested that a milepost could be added at San Fernandez, indicating the distance from Cuarto de Pulgada. This got me thinking about how long the FCPyF should be.
I’ve previously drawn maps showing where Sierra Oculta might be but not seriously considered the scale… Nor, for that matter, the terrain… But it is just for fun anyway and I’m not going to let trivia such as facts get in the way, any perceived anomalies over the scenery and vegetation can be put down to the hidden mountain range that the country is named after and local climate conditions cause by these hills.
After some consideration and calculation I have “discovered” that it is 724 km from Cuarto to Fernandez, that’s about 450 miles. Perhaps too far for a slow train to travel in one day. So the FCPyF has been split into three divisions, north, west and east, with the division point between the three routes being at the capital city of Ciudad Grande.
Stopping trains operate within their divisions, and can exchange cars for through traffic, so most journeys covering the full length of the country would take two days with an overnight stay in the capital.
Operationally (for the layouts) this means that freight traffic leaving San Fernandez Terminus for Cuarto de Pulgada would not be seen on the Rio Paleta to Frog Rock modular section until the following day and vice versa. Local passenger trains on the East Division (the modules) would not be seen as far north as San Fernandez, having terminated at the north fiddleyard (Ciudad Grande), but freight cars will be seen at any location, having appeared to have travelled the full length of the line over a course of time.
For example, a freight car leaving Puerto del Sastra on Monday will be transferred from the high level fiddleyard (Asilo) to the south fiddleyard (Cuarto). On Tuesday it will then be seen passing Frog Rock, Resurreccion and Rio Paleta as it travels to the north fiddleyard (Ciudad Grande), from there it will be transferred to the Fernandez fiddleyard and finally arrive at the SFT on Wednesday.
While freight and stopping passenger trains stay within their divisions the mail train runs the full length of the country. Travelling southbound via the northern and eastern divisions on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, returning north on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. An express mixed freight and passenger operates northbound on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, returning south on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Railcar 21 “El Ganzo” is bathed in moonlight at San Fernandez Terminus while waiting to work the 04:15 express to Cuarto de Pulgada.
The mail and express services ensure that there is a daily through passenger train in each direction but it takes most of the day, 450 miles at an average speed of 25 mph. Allowing for station stops these trains need to reach 40 or even 50 mph over some stretches of the line, which is pretty good going for a 2’6″ gauge railway.