Years ago MR had a layout build by a guy who loved passenger trains. I think he built Boston Union Station or something like that and the associated passenger yards. It looked like a great layout for the size of room he had. I've only heard of one other guy since that time who wanted a major yard as a theme of a layout. He was modelling BN's Superior Wi. yards. I believe a MR poll also years ago indicated that most modellers liked to operate wayfreight type layouts, where the operator follows the train along and switches enroute. Usually this involves the train leaving from a yard and either turning at a branchline terminal or terminating in a hidden yard. I've visited a layout which themed operations around a busy junction, without a visible yard only staging, Has anyone else contemplated making a major yard the center of focus? Railroad yards are veritable beehives of activity. They contain a lot of operation within a limited space. One of the more interesting prototype references to yard activity is Fred Frailey's Blue Streak Merchandise, a book about a train. Both the writing and the subject of this book are facinating. For example at Pine Bluff Ark this train would stop on the main track. The power would cut off for servicing. Yard engines would attack the head and tail end of the train, even pulling one end clear of center cross-overs so yard engines could even add traffic to the gut of the train. Even more facinating was the time allotted to this maneuvre, less than 1 hour! Most trains need more than 1 hour to swap blocks, some trains even take 24 hours to hump traffic. Switch engines operate on multiple leads, building locals and manifest freights. Transfers bring in traffic from industrial or satellite yards. Intermodal traffic is routinely harvested to be placed on the head end of fast freights. Foot for foot yard operation offers more bang for the buck. A drawback to a Major yard layout is the length needed to operate realistically. A small yard of 2000 ft switch to switch scales out at over 24 feet! With enough room to dedicate to a yard theme one could have a long lead which extends a train length beyond the yard for switching or for trains that are delayed awaiting an arrival track. A pretty interesting layout could be built compressing 10 miles of urban railroading into a 250' layout run. Partially scenicked staging yards could represent various satellite and interchange yards throughout an urban area. A few industries might be modelled to provide some wayfreight experience. Urban areas provide lots of examples such as Auto or lumber reloads, multi-track freight sheds and freight forwarders, where boxcars are lined up on 5 tracks abreast with steel plates place between the doors creating 25 mobile warehouses. Sometimes it's hard to remember just what railroads meant to the growth of a city. Find an old commercial area and locate or imagine where tracks in the street once lay. MRs seldom model yards without dedicating a high percentage of space to a roundhouse and turntable. Certainly this is out of sync with railroad practices thoughout the last 30 years. Even Diesel shops are becoming rare as work is being performed by contractors or in centralized shops. Maybe the space could be better utilized by installing a class yard, piggyback ramps, and a couple of garden tracks with a sand tower/fuel rack for diesel power. Turning power could be done at a wye somewhere else on the layout adding another prototypical operation move. Even single track railroads used double track extensively around major yards. Two tracks simplifies operations, keeps things moving and it looks esthetically pleasing in many ways. Lots of space might be required to faithfully reproduce something like this. If you can find 6 modellers and quonset hut to do it in , you've performed a small miracle. I'll probably be satisfied if I can model a moderate sized yard like St J Vermont. With interchange , run throughs and an interlocking, I'd still need a pretty good sized basement to grasp the feeling of the prototype.