Here is a group in the greater Dallas/Fort Worth area working on a grand Japanese rail modeling project based on Tokyo.
What is “The J Project”?
The J (Japan) Project is a modular N scale model railroad layout designed to provide the viewer insight into the complexity and efficiency of the Japan Rail network in and around Tokyo. Prototypical trains will be run on prototypical lines over, through, between and under the locations, buildings, and landmarks where the real things go.
What is the purpose of the layout?
The purpose of the layout (besides allowing us to display and play with our model trains) is to transport the viewer to Tokyo, Japan, and give them an office-window view of the world’s largest city, and how millions of people get around it daily.
What is the center of the layout?
Tokyo Station, central terminus for commuter, express, and Shinkansen (bullet train) service in the Tokyo area, will be the centerpiece of this puzzle. The station design has been in the works for some time, and with final revisions and measurements taking place, it appears that our version of the station will do the real thing the justice it deserves.
How large will the layout be?
As big as we can make it! Currently we are in the research, design, and development phase of The J Project. We have decided on a standard module size: 6 feet by 3 feet. Some modules will exceed this parameter as required to allow for scenery or other specific needs of layout operation. The Tokyo Station module set will be between 12 and 18 feet long, and four to six feet wide; depending on the final design. The layout spans out from there. The original J Project concept was based on the “Bend Trak” standard and would have occupied a 20 x 20 foot area. With the dropping of the standard and moving to a free-form design (allowing for a more prototypical appearance and operation) The J Project is stretching to where it will almost double the original design, and allow the simultaneous operation of twice the capacity of trains (an increase from 10-12 to 18-24+). Future expansion is projected, allowing more trains and lines to be displayed and
You mentioned “over, through, between and under…” What’s that all about?
The trains of Japan run at ground level, on elevated viaduct, and underground through a maze of tight-quarters and urban sprawl. The J Project will feature this as well. Tokyo Station, for example, will have trains operating on three (3) levels, and three other levels of display. Our purpose is to replicate what we can, and through the use of scaling and selective compression (making things smaller than they actually are, but still providing the look and feel of the prototype) provide viewers a true feel for what they would see if we dug up a section of Tokyo, shrunk it, and brought it to them.
Besides Tokyo Station, what other landmarks can we expect?
The Japan Rail system around Tokyo provides tremendous access to major sights and locales. The J Project will feature several of these prominently. Tokyo Station, as mentioned, will form the centerpiece of the layout. Going north, we’ll visit Akihabara (known as “Electric Town”, or the Electronics Capital of the world), Ryogoku (location of the Kokugikan, the national Sumo arena), Ueno (featuring Ueno Park with the Cherry Blossoms in their full spring glory), and Shinjuku, home of the metropolitan government and the busiest rail station in the world! Southbound from Tokyo you’ll see the International Trade Forum, the prime shopping district of Ginza (and wait until night falls!) the industrial area of Kawasaki, and a ride on the Resort 21 train and Super View Odoriko down the Izu peninsula to the resorts and a relaxing spa.
Sound like there’s going to be lots of trains, how many and what kind will we see?
The current fleet roster for The J Project stands at 43 trains. This includes commuter trains from the 103 series to the modern E501 AC trains, express trains such as the Super Azusa and Narita Express, and EVERY available model of the Shinkansen; from the venerable 0 to the brand new E2 and E3s of JR East. You may even see a couple of trains that don’t really run all the way to Tokyo, but why pass up the opportunity to run the gorgeous 700 Hikari Rail Star from JR West? We’ll have subway trains running and static, and eventually will factor in freight operations to the layout.
This is a very ambitious project, what’s the time frame on it?
The original concept of a Japanese layout began over two years ago for me. We built an NTrak loop based on a Japanese city, and began collecting Japanese Trains. Stephen Moore assisted in this effort, and was also expanding his fleet of Shinkansen and Japanese prototype trains. Additions to this loop were planned, but did not move much beyond the concept and design phase.
Elsewhere, Clark Overman had his own ideas for a Japanese layout that would be built on modules that would form a “T” off an NTrak mainline standard module. Clark and I hooked up in June of 2002, and with a meeting of the minds, set The J Project in motion as a joint venture.
Currently, the design team is working on firming up plans for the Tokyo Station module set, and modules running north to Ueno and south to the International Trade Forum. A trip to Tokyo is planned for the near future for research, and construction is slated to begin later this year (2003). Once Tokyo Station is built, we will be constructing modules to allow operation as soon as possible. As it stands, there is no time frame for “completion” of the layout, since in theory it could continuously grow and expand with new modules added in and around the existing parts.
Growth in this manner is being planned in advance. For example, Between Tokyo Station and Akihabara is Kanda Station. The initial design plans do not include construction of this module, however, the design will allow for a new module(s) to be “slotted” into the space. Make no mistake about it; this layout is being built with growth in mind.
Who is the JProject?
Just a few of the crew
From Left to Right: Adam Amick, Tom Browning, Stephen Moore, Clark Overman, Rich Reinhart. Others not pictured, with interest in the Jproject: Mack Canady, Glen Chenier, Jack Ayers.
Any other interesting features we should know about?
Absolutely. Since the purpose of The J Project is to “take” the viewer to Japan, we’ll be doing everything feasible to make them feel like they’re there. Buildings will be lit with “neon” lights and signs during the “night” phase on the layout, giving viewers a feel for the beauty of Tokyo at night. Animation will be included, and a number of trains will be operate automatically, making station stops where they do in real life. As this occurs, station calls will sound further enhancing what we believe will be a fantastic experience.
And that’s what it’s all about; a fantastic, educational, and fun experience for people of all background and ages who view The J Project.
Check back with us here at the Texas and Beyond MRHS for updates on the progress of The J Project!