Coketown is set in the Lancashire town made famous in Charles Dickens’ novel Hard Times. Now, in the 21st century, situated on the West Coast Main Line around 2015, the town has been cleaned up somewhat. Many of the mills and chimneys are gone, replaced by warehouses and shopping areas but some of the old buildings are still left in the town centre near the station. The station was rebuilt in the 1990s but some of the original old parts of the station are left.
A high level line to the Pennines was closed by Beeching, but the viaduct is now listed and preserved and there are several plans for the line including a cycle path, a tramway or possibly reopening the track. The traffic on the line is predominantly off the West Coast Main Line and is fitted around the Virgin passenger expresses to and from London and Glasgow. Transpennine Express and Northern run local services from the station and London Midland branded services can be seen at certain times during the week.
The yard is still used for container deliveries for a local supermarket distribution warehouse and a scrapyard and there is also a small Network Rail yard for their equipment and their contractors. The coach sidings at the front of the station are for daytime storage of passenger trains between the peak times.
The layout is wired for DCC, powered by NCE controllers. Track is Peco code 55 with a mix of wood and concrete sleepers. The points are SEEP motors driven by DCC concepts solenoid drive boards which, in turn, are controlled from a Windows touch screen laptop running JMRI software, which uses the point positions and sensors to set the signals. In addition, there are timers in the control software on the lines leaving the front of the layout so that the signals step down from red after the train has left, back to green through yellow and double yellow over a period of time.
The catenary has some Dapol individual supports but the majority of the portals are from N Brass kits. The buildings are a mix of kit and off the shelf items with some hand built items and customisation to suit the environment. Stock is mainly Farish and Dapol but much of the newest stock on the layout has come from Ben and Mike at Revolution Trains who I have to thank for producing the Pendolino without which this WCML layout would not be complete!