Welcome to our railway, that we call ‘Робстов на Лусу’ (Robstov-on-Luce). The railway is the work of me (Chris) and my son (Robin).
Although we both love trains, it would be fair to say neither of us is an expert, and neither of us knew how to build a model railway (although Robin has lots of great ideas!)
It started in 2018 when Robin asked for a trainset for this birthday, something i’d always wanted too. Robin really wanted a T.E.E. (as he’d seen in the Kraftwerk video) and I discovered I could get a Sapsan start set from Piko, and so the fun began!
When I was a child I remember my father starting to build a layout modelled on the Great Western Railway steam era. What started as a figure of 8 was quickly scaled back to very small but intended-to-be realistic coastal scene that never got much beyond skeleton form, much to my great disappointment.
So when we started our own project I wanted a quick build. The plan was always to have a glorified trainset; something we could play with, and that looked pretty. But before long I got carried away…
I’ve long had a fascination with Russia and the CIS since my days as a history major. This led to a postgrad language course, and a brief period staying in Rostov-on-Don in the south where I developed a great fondness for overnight sleeper trains. Along with my friend Yura, we tired ourselves out roaming frozen cities by day, and were gently rocked to sleep on platzkart bunks. From Adler to Archhangelsk, Chelyabinsk to Chernivtsi, for the last 15 years i’ve been returning periodically, and always making sure I have the chance to ride the rails.
So when we came to buy our first trainset and I saw the Sapsan my mind was very quickly made up. However, as a Scottish-Belgian family, living in the UK, getting hold of the typical rolling stock of the RZD isn’t quite so simple.
Meanwhile Robin’s interests are broader. Alongside his T.E.E. he has picked up a TGV, some SNCB carriages he knows from visiting his bonne maman, and a replica of our local Andrew Barclay heritage steam engine. It was clear that our layout, Robstov-on-Luce, would have to be an international terminal, a gateway to Europe, and capable of accommodating fantasy.
Railway modelling has turned out like learning a language. The more we do, the more I realise how much we still have to learn.