Ask Phil: How high is a 009 platform?

27 January 2021
What would be a typical height for a station platform for a 009 model? Christian.

The answer is - it depends.

For UK narrow gauge railways, the Board of Trade didn't specify any dimensions for platforms, unlike standard gauge lines. Keeping the costs as low as possible was vital for most NG lines - in many cases, this is the reason they weren't built to standard gauge - the railway company wasn't going to spend money on infrastructure where they didn't need to.

So, the answer really is - look at your prototype.

Douglas station on the Isle of Man has quite an impressive platform.

But then this is the company headquarters and main station on the railway. Having said that, many of the other stations boasted platforms.

Head a few miles north and you'll find The Groudle Glen Railway.

Here, we have no platform at all beside the 2ft gauge track, just hard standing. Vintage photos show this has always been the case. Of course, it's always been a pleasure line with low rolling stock, when the loco driving wheels are only 15" diameter, getting into the coaches isn't too much of a step up.

At the other end of the narrow gauge spectrum, the Welsh Highland Railway.

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Despite being home to the largest NG locos I'm the UK, Caernarfon station platforms are at rail height. Step boards are provided to help passengers into the coaches.

Update: The F&WHR PW supervisor has been in touch to say that Welsh Highland platforms are 115mm above rail height or 2mm in 009. Ffestiniog Platforms are 114mm above rail height or 1.5mm in 009.

Finally, we stay in Wales for the Talyllyn Railway.

A misty day at Nant Gwernol station sees Hunslet loco "Alf" sitting on the platform, which is as low as the Welsh Highland version.

So, as a guide, you could do worse than set your platforms tops at the same height as the top of your rails. Most coaches will feature steps to help passengers board, and the directors of your railway company can be assured that no money has been wasted.

For the model station shown at the top of this page, I simply used two layers of Daler Board card - giving a height of just under 4mm as well as a nice smooth surface.

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