The Maerklin model railway layout called “Virgental” is one of those few private model train layouts that you can spend hours looking at. Although the model railway layout was built by the Dutch model railroader Wim de Zee in the Netherlands, it is based on the German Federal Railway in Era III (1945 to 1970) with many steam locomotives and thousands of details.
Since early childhood, Wim de Zee has been fascinated by model railroading and railway modelling. Twelve years ago, he started building a superb dream layout. The basic idea was a valley with several bridges on top of each other. After some searching on the Internet, he came across the “Virgental Valley” in East Tyrol in Austria, which he liked very much, so he named his HO scale layout “Virgental”.
If you now think that the combination of Dutch model builder, Austrian place names and German model trains has resulted in a motley miniature world without a concept, you are definitely wrong, because on almost every square centimeter of this model railway layout there is such an infinite amount of authentic detail as you would otherwise only know from the famous Miniatur Wunderland.
In 2004, with the help of the 3D planning software “Wintrack”, the design and track plan for Wim’s layout were created, which took over a year. The result is a design that allows trains to run with a lot of variety and, in addition, the silhouette of the town of Virgental can be seen in the background. In the town there is a weekly market, a fire station, an antique market and an imposing town gate.
Opposite is a grand locomotive shed with turntable, depot and coaling station. The roundhouse can accommodate 16 steam locomotives. Furthermore, a small locomotive shed is available for electric locomotives, where necessary repairs and maintenance work are carried out. Finally, the area of the railway depot is surrounded by an enchanting backdrop of houses.
It took over twelve years to build this model railway. First of all, Wim built the superimposed bridges in the Virgental Valley. From here, the main railway line extends to the Virgental Railway Station. The station, with six tracks for freight and passenger traffic and with an additional track for local traffic, is situated in a small curve, so that viewers can enjoy a good overview of the arrival and departure of the trains.
Houses and buildings in this miniature world are products of the popular model making companies. Often the buildings have been modified and always freed from their plastic, artificial appearance with the help of additional colours. However, there are also buildings made of cardboard, such as the baggage handling area near the station. The tractor workshop, a large bridge and shops built into the mountain wall have been modelled out of plaster.
The model railway enthusiast Wim de Zee loves the details, so all the buildings have appropriate interiors and are located on streets with typical German street names, such as Virgentalstrasse (Virgental Valley Street), Wilhelmstrasse (Wilhelm Street) or Wilhelmplatz (Wilhelm’s Square). In addition, all houses are illuminated and they have their own house numbers. The streets and pavements are made of cobblestones and have been coloured as well as weathered.
Wim’s model train layout runs in automatic mode and is controlled by the Koploper PC programme. All locomotives are equipped with decoders. The turnouts or switches are servo-controlled. Underneath the layout, there are several levels and track spirals with optional switchable reversing loop function. There are also three staging yards or fiddle yards with space for a total of 15 train sets. Finally, Wim de Zee has created a work of art. His model train layout is a masterpiece built in museum quality – similar to the famous works of Josef Brandl or Bernhard Stein.