Building a New Station - Part I

If you follow my Instagram then I’ve probably already bored you half to death with the updates I’ve been posting as I rebuild the train station in my LEGO town. The project started a couple of months back when I realised all my train mocs were too big to get through the old narrow tunnel which runs under my town’s main road.

This was one of the first features I built into the layout back in January. Since I was a kid I’ve been hooked on the idea of having a train running between rooms in my house, and while I’m not quite at that level (yet) this was a pretty neat compromise!

Shortly after I'd finished the first round of construction back in January. Didn't even have baseplates down at this point!
Shortly after I'd finished the first round of construction back in January. Didn't even have baseplates down at this point!

This little tunnel worked great for the trains I was running back then but shortly after I built my 4564 engine redesign it was pretty obvious some upgrades were going to be needed. The old tunnel was modelled as if it was cut straight into the rock with a large overhang covered with nets to catch rock debris. It definitely had a certain charm but it was an absolute nightmare to build and required a load of reinforced technic beams to stop it collapsing under its own weight.

Version 2 of the original tunnel with nets, scenery and - drum roll - baseplates
Version 2 of the original tunnel with nets, scenery and - drum roll - baseplates

I was pretty happy with how everything looked at that point, though it wasn’t long after that I added the table extension which effectively gave me another 32 studs to play with. Obviously I filled all that with track giving me enough room to park a couple of trains and run another without manually moving anything.

Time ticked on, projects came and went, I built another table extension, the first version of the island platform and the big engine shed and so on. All the while I had this niggling thought in the back of my head that I should really do something better with the tunnel because it was a choke point for anything wider than a tight six studs.

My original plan was to tear the whole thing out, lose the branch line entirely and convert the area into a big undercroft for a larger, improved station. A nice idea on paper but the more I thought about it the more I started to love the old quirky tunnel! It’s just a really nice feature and adds a lot of interest to what is otherwise two fairly boring parallel tracks.

Taken shortly after I'd finished the island platform, before it was widened. You can just about make out Platform 1 in the background
Taken shortly after I'd finished the island platform, before it was widened. You can just about make out Platform 1 in the background

When it comes to LEGO I tend to shy away from too much planning or overthinking. As you’ve seen with the machine shop series, I usually build stuff in real bricks first and then if I want to make instructions I work backwards from the finished model. Everyone has their own ways of working but the reason I love building so much is the freedom it gives. For me, the totally non-linear experience of creating something, finding parts, being inspired, tearing it all down, getting frustrated about not having enough pieces and finding ways to solve problems is all part of what makes LEGO so brilliant.

But sometimes it does pay to do a little planning! Some ideas are too big to fully fit in your head and my plans for the station needed some careful thinking. The first thing I wanted to do was optimise the dead space under the road. The original Platform 1 had about 10-12 studs of empty space behind it and in the wise words of Tim and Eric: it’s free real estate.

The “shelf” on my layout is made up of three modules built out of, well, shelves. The top boards are from an ancient IKEA freestanding unit and the vertical supports are the £2 Burhult shelves joined together with angle brackets. To get access to the space, I pulled out the third module and cut some legs to size out of a scrap bit of wood.

Replacing the old supporting board with two legs.
Replacing the old supporting board with two legs.

With the legs cut and the module back in position, I could start work on the new platform area. Most of the layout is made to look like it’s sitting on top of steep rocks, but with this area I wanted to give a bit more of a man-made feel with clean walls and no pointy death traps, and a small row of shops for passengers waiting to board the train.

Building up the new platform area
Building up the new platform area

Over the course of a few days I finished building up the rest of the structure and kitted out the shops. I had a lot of fun with these and it was a good excuse to use some DOTS and other random bits. I was originally going to have four shops but ended up turning the first unit into a waiting area leading into a small ticket office.

The shops starting to take shape - there is a basement passage running between all of them
The shops starting to take shape - there is a basement passage running between all of them

Remember I said it pays to plan sometimes? I’d totally forgotten about the drawing I did before any of this started but it’s a great feeling looking back and seeing how stuff has changed!

I love it when a plan comes together
I love it when a plan comes together

So with the platform area more or less done, it was time to turn my attention to the tunnel. Read about that in part 2!

· build, MOC, trains, station