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Introducing the Britannia Semi-Permanent Track range

A new track range suitable for Semi-Permanent and Permanent use as a ready to lay product range complete with straights, various curves, points and buffer stops. Available in 5” & 7 ¼” as standard with other gauges available upon request

You spoke, we listened

Listening to our customers is vital to the development of new products and many have chosen to use our Jubilee track range as a Semi-permanent track solution. The Jubilee track is well suited to this use but has some drawbacks which we were keen to discuss and overcome; These include:

  • Inability to remove one track section without disturbing those around it.

This is a particular issue if you have ballasted in the track - The fishplates on the Jubilee range require the track sections adjacent to be lifted away from the track bed to separate the fishplates.

  • Hollow box section leading to internal rusting.

The Jubilee being a hollow box track section is ideally suited for portable railways but if left outside for prolonged periods of time, may sustain significant rust on the internal and external surfaces, so it is recommended that the track is periodically lifted and inspected. The additional cost of coatings such as galvanization is prohibitive for most customers.

  • Inability to quickly modify track sections on site.

The Jubilee is designed to be laid and re-laid regularly so the tolerance on the rails is very precise so we strongly discourage the cutting of track sections on site to create special joiners.

  • Short track sections

Although not a problem in its own right, the Jubilee track is designed to be extremely easy to handle and lift at just 1.5m long. This is great for a portable railway to fit into vehicles and for manual handling, but not needed on a permanent or semi-permanent one where trains may be driven more spiritedly or with higher loads. Joints, among other features of a railway, are areas where derailment is more likely.

Above are a range of photos taken of MRW Jubilee Track at various permanent locations around the UK.

Armed with a clear understanding of exactly what we wanted from the new track range, a set of requirements from the above list were drawn out and we have now designed an offering suitable for the semi-permanent railway. Britannia will represent good value for money for the customer whilst maintaining Jubilee’s easy to understand panel based system and additionally retain aspects of its ease of use where possible.

It is the ideal choice for a semi-permanent railway

The track is supplied completely ready to lay with no requirement for onsite drilling or welding by the installer. The track is also designed to hold its shape when being moved around in a way that profile rail track panels are not known for. The track is in short, a perfect middle ground between the properties of a miniature profile rail built track panel and that of the Jubilee portable track.

How is Semi-Permeant Defined?

Defined as "lasting quite a long time but not indefinitely" by the Collins English Dictionary, almost any railway is semi-permanent such as the railway that was built in Dan's mother's garden. This railway only lasted a couple of years and the images below show its construction. The reason we have chosen to define the Britannia Track Range as semi-permanent is because it is resilient to being laid and re-laid due to its design and hence is ideal for a semi-permanent railway as it will retain its resale value better and be a more useful product than profile rail if the owner wishes to re-lay the track.

Why is it called Britannia?

Following on from the success of our portable track range named “Jubilee” we wanted a name that reflected an aspect of railway history and was somehow linked to MRW. The new workshop we have here in Kirkby-In-Ashfield is built on the old Great Central Railway and in particular the Kirkby Central Station. All remnants of the original railway are now long gone with it now being almost unbelievable that it once passed through the spot we are writing from. This is a true reminder of how fleeting a railway can be and hence seems apt to link our new product to such a time in history. The line was in regular use by steam locomotives until near the end of steam and residents of Kirkby have told us that they have fond memories of seeing Britannia fish trains especially running through the station on a regular basis.
Fish Train: The 7 o’clock Brit. Photo Credit: Martin Weiss collection.

Above image is of a BR Standard Class 7 Britannia Class pacific No. 70037 Hereward the Wake passes through Kirkby Central Station with the Grimsby to Whiteland fish train in 1962. The track bed pictured here is now directly below the modern day site of our workshop and office at MRW. Photo Credit: Martin Weiss collection.

An innovative solution to a long standing problem

If you read Colin Edmondson’s Book on the subject of building your own points in 7 ¼” gauge from bar stock, you will find an explanation on the use of right angle steel as a fishplate. This is a very affordable method but one that requires welding of the rail and onsite drilling. As noted by Colin in the book, the fishplate holes had not been standardized during manufacture meaning panels can not be quickly swapped and interchanged and this is common with existing flat bar railways, especially when branches and additions have been made at different times.

MRW have designed a solution that standardises fishplates for flat bar railways. Our fishplates are completely weld free and are precise to a tolerance of +-0.2mm. The joint is supported by a steel plate which helps ensure that the two rails match their heights, with the ability to also incorporate a chair so a sleeper may be fixed directly under the joint, reducing joint dip and increases train stability.

These new design fishplates resolve many of the issues associated with conventional flat bar steel rail and allow the user to install a complete and stable railway in less than a day.

Light and Heavy Duty

We are working with two sizes of flat bar profile, the first being 20x10 we are classing as “Light Duty” and is perfectly suited to all types of 5 inch running lines and light duty 7 ¼ gauge running for example small clubs, garden and any railway likely to see locos of only standard gauge or small narrow gauge.

For the second, we are classing this as “Heavy Duty.” This is a 30x12mm profile which is much better suited to light commercial railways, estate railways and regular club use. This profile should, if laid with good groundwork, function well for anything up to large narrow gauge 7 ¼” locos such as Tinkerbells.

5” Britannia Track Range

5” gauge is the ideal choice for compact garden railways as the locomotives are smaller and easier to lift/handle than the comparative 7 ¼.

Supplied as Light Duty track in 20x10 mild steel flat bar rail this is perfect for all 5inch railways. The panels use our unique no-weld fishplates which have been specifically designed and developed for the flat bar track range. Some of the key features are;

  • Straights 1.9m Long.

  • Curves are supplied in (O) Radius at 7.34M [24'-1"]

  • Sets of points are also available with provision for a Point lever.

7.25” Britannia Track Range

Available as either Light or Heavy Duty rail the track is suitable for a variety of applications form very light use in a back garden to much more regular club running or even commercial operations.

Some of the key features are;

  • Straights 1.9m Long.

  • Curves are supplied in (O) Radius at 7.34M [24'-1"] AND (C) Radius at 14.7M [48’-2”]

  • Sets of points are also available with provision for a Point lever - in either (O) or (C) Rad.

Is that where it ends?

We are working to develop a set of buffers that perform as well as our existing Jubilee range under hard impact conditions and will absorb the impact of a collision rather than damage rolling stock or track. These are due to be added to the range in due course.

Where to go next?

We have a lot of work to get all of this product range live on the MRW website but we are working away in the background to make this happen. If you are interested in purchasing your own Britannia railway then please make direct contact with us and we can quote on your requirements. The range will be expanded over time to include Multi-gauge and other gauges such as 10¼ and 3½ so if you are looking for something a little more bespoke then please do not hesitate to discuss further.

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