Lionel Ducourant, Senior Product Owner for TPS, and his passion for building model railways! ?   

How did you get started? 

I was 12 when I got my first electric train. I was keen to enlarge the simple loop (without switches) and add decorations to it. My parents took the opportunity to send me to model clubs to quench my thirst. Then I joined the Montpellier model railway club and built my first railroad in my parent's garage before leaving to do my studies in Paris.  

The imposing dimensions (a single platform of 4m by 1.80m!) made transporting it to Paris difficult but the lockdown reignited my desire to build a new (and more modular) model railroad in Paris. 

What do you enjoy the most about it? 

The freedom of inspiration to create a world that you love, to (re)produce places or atmospheres you want, to think about different scenes of everyday life and tell a story. 

And it's not just trains and tracks but also putting them into a realistic background. You can buy some elements but sometimes it’s quite simple to build things by yourself with basic materials. You can add or amend the layout until it is perfect and, of course, you always need to adapt as you (never) have enough space ?. 

In the last 30 years, I’ve seen the huge evolution and technological advances which have considerably facilitated the life of the modelist. We now drive trains with our phones and tablets! We have speakers embedded in the locomotive and manage the lights in each coach. I am keen to set up a railway signalling system that reflects those we can find in real life. 

What’s the main challenge?  

There are quite a few to tell the truth: First is about the space you have. Then have patience, take the time to get information and do not be afraid of making a mistake. It's quite manual and sometimes the simple things take a long time to create. Fortunately, there are many video tutorials on YouTube! 

Do you have any advice to share with others who’d like to do the same? 

First, I’d recommend choosing the scale related to the space you have, or you want to allocate. You can go to some shops near Paris St Lazare station in France and on https://peco-uk.com/. It’s easiest in the UK where the brand PECO is based. Select the one with which you feel the most comfortable (when it's very small, it can get complicated with fingers). 

Then, choose a particular era that you want to do. For my part, I find the steam locomotives beautiful, but I have never seen them in commercial service and therefore I focus on the trains from my childhood.  

These are only some recommendations, of course, enjoy playing with trains however you like! If you’re interested, you can find more info on model railway here:  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACkmg3Y64_s&ab_channel=MiniaturWunderland 
https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-50403561  
https://rrmodelcraftsman.com/model-train-scale-gauge/ 

Thanks to Lionel for sharing your story! ?