The Rainbow Railway


Introducing the Rainbow Railway – by Isabelle and Timothy Hill OO Gauge Shunting Layout

Rainbows for lots of reasons have many meanings – they can be seen to stand for happiness, inclusivity, equality, hope, kindness and peace. The Rainbow Railway aims to recognise and celebrate all of these different meanings.

Have you ever wondered where rainbows really come from? Every child wonders this – and Isabelle (9) and Timothy (5) are no different. They went out to discover, think about it and then model what they found.

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Rainbows like almost everything are actually made in a factory. Not just any factory but the Rainbow Factory. This factory uses a secret formula to make the rainbows that are released into the sky via a special chimney.

The trouble with rainbows and them being a little bit magical is that the formula to make them constantly changes and requires the colours to keep being mixed up in a different order. Sometimes its “Red and Yellow and Pink and Green, Purple and Orange and Blue” and other times its “Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Pink and Purple” and other times it’s a different mixture all together. Causing much chaos within the factory.

The factory workers found that continually moving the ingredients about into a different order was really rather tiring so they decided that – like all good people do – a train was needed, and not just any train – the Rainbow Railway. A train they thought could easy swap the ingredients around using correctly coloured trucks for each colour and by shunting the ingredients held in these colourful trucks into the ever-changing right order.

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The answer to the right colour mix #OperationShuntIt

Unfortunately, the factory didn’t have much space (the layout was designed to fix exactly onto a Scale Model Scenery BB017 baseboard – 110 cm long and 22cm deep) – it is near to the village the workers lived and has a river running alongside it where the swans enjoy a swim. However, with some careful planning they managed to fit in a small railway with just enough sidings available to shunt the trucks into the correct order but, sometimes it would require some careful thought!

The factory even had an upgrade with a special colour changing window installed to indicate to the train crew outside the factory which order the trucks needed to be shunted into helping to speed up the process.

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Welcome to the Rainbow Railway

The Rainbow Railway has one engine and seven trucks. Each truck holds a different magical colour for the rainbow which must be shunted together in exactly the right order to make rainbows. This order, as rainbows are a bit magical, keeps changing. However, there is no need to worry as the factory will both indicate in coloured lights on the side of the tower and the foreman will call out the correct new sequence of colours that’s needed. Making it easy for the train crew to shunt the trucks into the right order.

The challenge comes in that each siding is only big enough to hold a few trucks – giving a bit of a puzzle every time to the train crew on how to swap the trucks around in the space available to make the right mix again.

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Isabelle came up with the concept and design for the Rainbow Railway, Timothy had the ideas for the scenery.

The Rainbow Factory mixes 4 different colours together at a time to make rainbows. These 4 different colours come from the range of 7 colours available (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Pink and Purple) with each colour being held in a different coloured truck. The trucks are also different types depending on the type of ingredient.

The puzzle starts by pressing the START button and 4 colours are selected at random from the 7 and displayed on the side of the factory tower. The aim being to shuffle the trucks into the correct sequence using the available sidings – deciding which ones to put where and in what order. To finish you have to push right 4 coloured trucks into the Rainbow Factory to allow the mixing to continue – and then press the STOP button if correct, the factory will announce how long you took to rearrange the trucks before giving a light show.

The shunting challenge comes in that the sidings are only just long enough to hold either 3, 4 or 5 trucks at a time meaning careful planning and positioning of the trucks for shunting is required to solve the puzzle.

There are 4 scenic sidings used for the shunting puzzle and one hidden siding within the Rainbow Factory building which also serves as a hidden fiddle yard allowing the trucks to be changed out of view. In addition to the sidings there is a run-around loop overlaid onto the sidings and is required to swap the loco ends on the trucks to make use of the final siding near the village houses in shunting manoeuvres.

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