Juvenile fantasy rail mapping

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Calthrop

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A bit “off-the-wall”, but kind-of appropriate for nostalgia: did anyone else, as a railway-enthusiast kid, go in for drawing dreamed-up maps of rail systems, loosely based on the known facts about the country, but effectively fictitious? As a youngster, I did a fair bit of this kind of thing (sometimes but not always, mentally linked with planned railway-modelling) – time-consumingly and elaborately, using inks of many colours – re at least: Great Britain, Ireland, France, and – most of all – the USA. As a child I had, courtesy of my parents (early 1950s time), a part-text-part-picture, book about railroads in the States, including rudimentary maps – starting from which maps I enthusiastically built, creating from my meagre knowledge of the US, a mostly-fantasy alternative US, with alternative railroad companies and their systems, the whole thing on something like a half / two-thirds the scale and size, of genuine North America. With my doing this in the late 50s / early 60s, I based it on a “contemporary” scene, with many lines abandoned or reduced to freight-only services – making up elaborate scenarios of the process of these closures... (oddly, I’ve never got truly-big-time interested in the real US railroad scene).

In this, was I an extremely weird kid, doing this stuff not primarily focussed on modelling, but as pure fantasy; with everyone else sensibly focusing on real life and the real world, rail-wise; or are there any others out there, who went in for similar eccentricity? In part because of the greater degree of information about the world’s railways which became available and accessible from the late 1960s on, this is a thing – I hesitate to call it “childish” – which I personally in later years, put away; but as a kid and early teen, it afforded me much -- basically harmless -- fun.
 
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Busaholic

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In this, was I an extremely weird kid, doing this stuff not primarily focussed on modelling, but as pure fantasy; with everyone else sensibly focusing on real life and the real world, rail-wise; or are there any others out there, who went in for similar eccentricity? In part because of the greater degree of information about the world’s railways which became available and accessible from the late 1960s on, this is a thing – I hesitate to call it “childish” – which I personally in later years, put away; but as a kid and early teen, it afforded me much -- basically harmless -- fun.

The fact we're on this forum makes us all a bit weird, and maybe extremely so in the eyes of many others, but I wouldn't worry about it, as you say it's essentially harmless. My own fantasies, as you might infer from my chosen name, involved plotting new and fabulous (to me) bus routes in London. I even (nearly) came to doing this in real life, but found I didn't have the patience to stay the course. Sometimes fantasies are best left that way!
 

Minilad

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Yep. I have done this. And not as a kid!
I based my system on the Isle of Wight. Small villages became big towns. I designed the route map. Created timetables and even went as far as working out unit, loco and stock diagrams!!
Took me ages but I loved every minute!
 

GrimsbyPacer

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I've done fantasy rail maps.
On Trainz 2006 simulator me and my brother wanted to do maps which could be divided in two.
We did The Channel Islands with various scales (not USA one), the Bahamas (full scale!), and an atholl in the Cook Islands, th Islands on the international dateline.
We also did many Railway Tycoon 3 maps of places with no railways like Iceland, Falkland, other islands etc.

I enjoy planning possible rail and tram extentions to the network on maps and then investigating it's cost and likely service levels.
On the fantasy note look up the one of Sodor.
 
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30907

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The fact we're on this forum makes us all a bit weird, and maybe extremely so in the eyes of many others, but I wouldn't worry about it, as you say it's essentially harmless. My own fantasies, as you might infer from my chosen name, involved plotting new and fabulous (to me) bus routes in London. I even (nearly) came to doing this in real life, but found I didn't have the patience to stay the course. Sometimes fantasies are best left that way!

In the late 60's I invented a series of new bus routes round Bromley, which in those days basically only had the prewar network. The weird thing is (or perhaps it shows my local knowledge) is that most of the routes now exist! Though even I didn't dare to route a bus past my then home, which now lies on the 367!

As for potential rail routes, I started aged 10 with Petersfield to Winchester, from a map in Holiday Haunts (anyone remember that?), moved on to the Barton/Milford on Sea area, then the Lulworth area - the last I am sure had bus timetables as well as rail....

You can more or less deduce where our family summer hols were!
 

Busaholic

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In the late 60's I invented a series of new bus routes round Bromley, which in those days basically only had the prewar network. The weird thing is (or perhaps it shows my local knowledge) is that most of the routes now exist! Though even I didn't dare to route a bus past my then home, which now lies on the 367!

As for potential rail routes, I started aged 10 with Petersfield to Winchester, from a map in Holiday Haunts (anyone remember that?), moved on to the Barton/Milford on Sea area, then the Lulworth area - the last I am sure had bus timetables as well as rail....

You can more or less deduce where our family summer hols were!

You're making me nostalgic. My grandparents lived in Bromley, and after my grrandmother died we moved into their house, in the late 1960s. I have often wondered why LT/TfL would not introduce a direct bus route between Bromley and West Wickham, then on to Croydon, rather than that convoluted route via Hayes, which became impassable on Corkscrew Hill after an hour's worth of snowfall.
We had several holidays in Lulworth, because my father, who had been a tank commander in the Eighth Army, kept in the TA after the war and 'kept his hand in' annually at the Tank Museum in Bovingdon.
 

Bevan Price

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I did maps and timetables based on an imaginary large island like Atlantis, located somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. Probably because I got bored because there were no other kids of my age in the area after we moved house, and the dog did not need to be taken on walks all day.
 

Calthrop

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I did maps and timetables based on an imaginary large island like Atlantis, located somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. Probably because I got bored because there were no other kids of my age in the area after we moved house, and the dog did not need to be taken on walks all day.

Glad for the reassurances from posters, that I wasn't the only one ! Along the same lines as you, BP: I was a solitary kid, who preferred doing "solo" stuff such as the mapping, to trying to mix with others (and often, mucking same up). It gave some worry to my parents / those who were, for whiles, "in loco parentis" (complicated story).

I've recalled another "project": I got fascinated by a 1961 Railway Magazine article about the railways of South Vietnam -- a little while before things really started to go down the drain in that part of the world; was inspired thereby, to do a map and write a long, detailed article about the railways and their history, of a fantasy "pseudo-Vietnam", which I called Momang. I had the railways of said country, being somewhat in decline as at the early 1960s: for some reason I preferred melancholy stuff, to thriving-and-booming fantasised rail systems.
 

fowler9

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Yeah when I was younger and not long after Network South East came in to existence I created my own Network North West with its own time tables and maps. A couple of years later Network Northwest actually came in to existence with its own rovers etc. which I took great advantage of to go out bashing. Mine had its own Inter City services from Liverpool to other parts of the country though. Ha ha. It involved a lot of Class 50 and 37 haulage. Ha ha.
 

theageofthetra

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When about 8 or 9 I designed a narrow gauge railway to run from the swimming pool in Eastbourne, along the prom via the pier to a terminus at Holywell. I did it as part of a school project and got the school secretary to post it to their council! I did actually get a reply thanking me for the suggestion etc etc.
When some years later they introduced those 'Dotto land trains' running pretty much to my route I did wonder if my plans did spark an idea in that council office! Am still waiting for the cheque.
 

EveningStar

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Did something similar when parents bought me a drop handlebar bike. Posited a railway system centred on my street that linked to various adjacent villages and linked some of those villages. Produced diagrams, an interval timetable system, reporting numbers and got on my bike! If I recall, longest diagram needed about an hour and half, while the shortest, a straightforward out and back, was 30 minutes. All told, again if I recall correctly, to run a full service would have required eight kids on their bikes. Think whole exercise was mildly ... actually, probably more than mildly ... OCD, yet was quite amusing for all that and I got fit (especially over one route that included a vicious hill).
 

43074

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I used to come up with wacky ideas for timetables or stock cascades quite often, probably because I was happy with my own company and was just something to keep me out of mischief! I didn't do many maps myself, although I could (and still do) pass many hours looking at them. When I was about 11 I drew a relatively accurate map of the UK network, and from an even earlier age I could tell someone Thurso was further north than Wick.
 
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My juvenile fantasy rail map was a whole fantasy light rail system, produced at an age and under circumstances when it perhaps shouldn't have been, but here's the story .....

During the 1970s I won a scholarship to read science at Cambridge University. At that time, Cambridge was much more a haunt of posh public schoolboys than it is today (at least that's what my old college now tells me when touting for donations from their prosperous graduates) and female undergraduates were very few and far between. Arriving as a grammar school oik from a northern council estate, I did not immediately slip into the social cliques of varsity life as easily as others who had been groomed and educated for this over the previous 5 years - something of an Alan Davies figure amongst lots of Stephen Frys.

To pass the long Fenland nights of that first winter, I concocted a plan for a mad underground rail system (in an era just before the resurgence of light rail in the UK) for a larger, modified and distorted city based on Cambridge. All the colleges of the university were retained in name, with a station at each, and my rail network connected them, along with several of the main science laboratories and university departments which I used.

Rolling Stock in my creation was a mixture of different types of generally elderly tram-type vehicles (inspired by the variety of ramshackle old bikes ridden on Cambridge streets) which had utilitarian, bomb-proof interiors modelled on Salford Corporation buses. The overall ambience was an amalgam of the old Cologne Stadtbahn, Boston Green Line and seedy 1970s New York Subway stations. A psychologist might find some significance in my selection of such a harsh transit environment to contrast to the "dreaming spires" environment of historic Cambridge. Lines and stations were underground cut & cover through the historic centre, but at surface level on the outskirts.

Services comprised three trunk lines: Girton to Churchill in a J-shaped route through the city centre & West Cambridge; Jesus college, heading south to Addenbrookes Hospital via St Andrews St & Hills Road, and an East/West line from the Cavendish Labs to Emmanuel College via Sidgwick Ave & Pembroke Street.

True to Town & Gown divide at Cambridge, any utility for the city population in general was ignored in my rail scheme, as was the presence of Cambridge BR station. An extensive 24-hour bus network was provided for "townies", operated by Mancunian-type vehicles in Berlin livery!

To get coverage of all the colleges, there were also odd branch lines and shuttles which would never exist in any real operation e.g Magdalene to Clare via a single line cut & cover beneath Trinity Lane, branches to Peterhouse and out over the Cam to the University Library. Plus an independent line along Tennis Court Road which operated at high frequency between the Lensfield Road chemistry labs and Pembroke Street (modelled on NYC's Times Sq/Grand Central Shuttle).

I mocked up a multi-coloured Beck-style network map and got to the stage of drafting timetables (long-hand with mental arithmetic in the days before PCs), but then found my feet socially, which only took a few weeks in reality.

I then forgot about the project for a number of years, until the opening of the Tyneside Metro in the early 1980s, when I was startled by the similarity between the first generation of the Metro map in Newcastle (lines colour-coded yellow, blue, green and red) and my fantasy Cambridge map (after rotating it by 90 degrees). I briefly revived my map to add in the newly-opened Robinson College, but by that stage I had better things to occupy my time & creative energy, so promptly forgot about the whole thing - until today! So thanks for reviving some long-dormant memories with this thread.
 
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Calthrop

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Springs Branch, fascinating post. We who have a tendency to engage in this stuff seem in the main to do it based, at least tenuously, on real places (pace your Atlantis-like undertaking, Bevan Price) -- though there's an extensive "grey zone" between "really-truly-real" and "totally-out-of-thin-air-imaginary".

True to Town & Gown divide at Cambridge, any utility for the city population in general was ignored in my rail scheme, as was the presence of Cambridge BR station. An extensive 24-hour bus network was provided for "townies", operated by Mancunian-type vehicles in Berlin livery!

I attended (an ill-fated exercise, by the way) the "other establishment" on the Thames, where "Town versus Gown" hostility has been a very long-standing thing. To be honest, I'd not been aware of its being a significant factor at Cambridge, too -- "that's all I knew". Still so far as I know, Cambridge can't match re this issue, Oxford's Great Riot of 1355, which lasted for two days and racked up a death-toll, between the two sides, of nearly a hundred.
 

higthomas

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Ah, fantasy rail maps, how much fun they've provided. Normally I just draw myself and island and decide where my towns, cities mountains etc. will be and draw a rail network based upon that. Sometimes I decide on service patterns, frequencies etc, but usually not.

I also have great fun getting hold of a map of wherever and doing the same, but more realistically. I've also started doing something similar for buses using google my maps, trying to get the best bus network for the town I can get within the limitations of the system (10 routes, with 10 via points etc.)

My friends all think this is a little weird for someone at uni, but I amusses me. :)
 

DasLunatic

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I'm actually building a network:)
 

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Calthrop

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Ah, fantasy rail maps, how much fun they've provided. Normally I just draw myself and island and decide where my towns, cities mountains etc. will be and draw a rail network based upon that. Sometimes I decide on service patterns, frequencies etc, but usually not.

I also have great fun getting hold of a map of wherever and doing the same, but more realistically. I've also started doing something similar for buses using google my maps, trying to get the best bus network for the town I can get within the limitations of the system (10 routes, with 10 via points etc.)

My friends all think this is a little weird for someone at uni, but I amusses me. :)

Real-based, or completely-from-first-principles, or in-between -- it harms nobody, and who cares if folk think it weird...?
 

DasLunatic

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That is Train Simulator 2016. We use Class 324 EMUs for commuter services (5 car 321s) and Class 95 electric locomotives (DB Class 120 electric locomotive) and MkIVs. Speed limit around the main loop is 80mph, and 110mph on the mainline.
 

Calthrop

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The longer this thread goes on, the more I realise – a bit uncomfortably – that re this particular kind of nonsense, I’ve in fact never “put away childish things”. ("With head", we recognise, "this stuff is benign, and there's nothing wrong with it" -- "with gut", we sometimes feel otherwise.) Seems that it has a bit of a “comfort blanket” property for me – when things gets tough and real-life fellow-humans (whoever may be actually at fault here) seem to hinder more than help – “there I go again”. My latest episode of this kind was some dozen years ago, in the course of a personally bad time.

Inspired originally by the late-1960s (before end of BR steam) Railway World “April Fool” feature about the “imaginary but well-known” Eastern European nation of Ruritania – premise, the way many earnest but photographically-untalented railway enthusiasts, made and circulated, badly-executed pictures of steam on BR: detractors of which rather unkindly commented: “from looking at these pics, they might as well have been taken in Ruritania”. Whence a RW extravaganza of bad, blurry, from-too-far-off British steam pictures, supposedly taken in Ruritania – with fantasy stuff about said country – being in Eastern Europe, taken to be as per the 1960s, a Soviet satellite “People’s Republic”, with all that that implied. Caption-play was had, with reversing British place-names to seem East-European: Detsroh Senyek; Yrubnus; and a train heading toward the border at Elsilrac, photographed in the Girnalmurd Gorge.

Many readers caught on and joined in the fun, with letters to the magazine in the same spirit, for several issues thereafter; plus, a few humour-challenged readers writing in, to the effect of “what is this rubbish all about?”.

Decades later, I kind-of latched on to my memories of this stuff; plus bringing in the original Ruritania, from the late-nineteenth-century thriller-type novels by Anthony Hope – The Prisoner of Zenda et al – about high-society-and-royalty romance / skulduggery-type doings, in that romantically fictional Eastern European country. My Ruritania created for my purposes (and quite detailed-ly mapped) involved abolishing and “annexing” most of the Czech Republic, plus borrowing some bits from some neighbouring countries (Slovakia left mostly inviolate – sorry, Czechs). Railway map within envisaged Ruritania was adjusted vis-a-vis reality , as seen appropriate.

Much pseudo-history dreamed up; but not wanting to get too boring, I see cutting to the railway-type chase: I saw Ruritania as a basically “loser” country, with its folks generally peaceable / dreamy / frivolous / lazy / not-active-aggressive; but with a tendency to being stubborn and passive-aggressive, and to being contrary to prevailing trends. Including which, the People’s Republic’s government and its state-railways administration being 1960-ish on, re steam on its railways, like real-world Poland but even more so: to hell with keeping up with the modern Joneses traction-wise – we have plenty of coal on our territory, we have a splendid fleet of mostly modern steam locos (including – like most Soviet satellite nations – lots of ex-German-Class 52 Kriegsloks, well-built machines in fine shape) – why get rid of them in a hurry !? I saw Ruritania as reluctantly accepting some dieselisation, forced by general Eastern Bloc policy (although – à la the Great Northern Railway of Ireland -- having from way back seen the sense of, and been accepting of, internal-combustion railcars for local passenger); but resisting and subverting to the max poss., diesel-loco-infliction -- and championing steam. And electrification: suburban commuter routes around the capital, yes: otherwise, forget it.

Including same post- end of Communism – with Ruritania’s being a contrary sort of place, reckoning attitude of, “sod the world’s overall trends – we’ll go our own way”: thus, enthusiastically hanging on to steam. Also, insisting on keeping going even now in 2016, the as at 1990 national-spanning network, including both for freight and passenger, rural local lines – standard and narrow gauge (happily flying in the face of economics). I’m aware that this stuff is utterly unrealistic in the face of harsh modern politico-economic facts; but people are permitted wish-fulfilment dreams...

I went so far as to imagine a fiction-character – “self as would ideally dream self to be” – a Ruritanian middle-class lad born in late 1970s, exposed to everyday steam there and thus a railway-and-steam enthusiast from birth: his “dropping out” and going to work on the railways from age 15 as a loco cleaner, dreaming of becoming a steam fireman and thence a driver (thing done in reality in the past, by no very small number of “drop-out” guys). Have toyed with short stories (one indeed completed), written in persona of this chap. Even had thoughts of setting up a website – with self pretending (no duplicity – openly admitting that it was “fantasy and fun”) – to be my fictional character – whereon everything, discussed-and-explored about Ruritania and its railways, past and present – going into as much mad detail, as people were willing to play along with. (Hey, wish-fulfilment fantasies as against real-world dreary realities, are accepted by some as “good for the soul” – and there’s even weirder stuff out there on the Net, than the abovementioned imagined site which I was too lazy actually to do anything about.)
 

Bevan Price

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The longer this thread goes on, the more I realise – a bit uncomfortably – that re this particular kind of nonsense, I’ve in fact never “put away childish things”. ("With head", we recognise, "this stuff is benign, and there's nothing wrong with it" -- "with gut", we sometimes feel otherwise.) Seems that it has a bit of a “comfort blanket” property for me – when things gets tough and real-life fellow-humans (whoever may be actually at fault here) seem to hinder more than help – “there I go again”. My latest episode of this kind was some dozen years ago, in the course of a personally bad time.

I think there is a "young lad" inside many men, regardless of their age. Yes, we learn more, we learn to do different things, and we try to act as "grown-ups", but part of us still likes doing some of the same things as when we were younger. Apart from railways, I see no reason to stop enjoying the types of rock music that started in the 1960s - and no reason to change to the types of music that was once supposed to "suit" older people.

Not sure if a simiar principle applies to women - they remain an incomprehensible (irrational) mystery to me. I wasted years believing one who kept saying "someday we will be a permanent couple."
 

satisnek

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Ah, fantasy rail maps, how much fun they've provided. Normally I just draw myself and island and decide where my towns, cities mountains etc. will be and draw a rail network based upon that. Sometimes I decide on service patterns, frequencies etc, but usually not.

Yes, I can remember doing this as a kid. Then, a couple or three years later I drew up a completely fictitious part of the BR network in a completely fictitious part of the UK, a notable feature of which was a section of three-track main line (I colour-coded 4-, 3-, 2- and single-tracked routes), doubtless inspired by the WCML between Rugby and Nuneaton. I've been intending to model a section of this three-track bit for what now amounts to decades - and if I ever do it'll probably be in retirement! Incidentally, although my model will most likely be set sometime in the 1980s (or perhaps late '70s or early '90s), it's interesting to surmise how Network Rail would have modified it in recent years....
 

Calthrop

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I think there is a "young lad" inside many men, regardless of their age. Yes, we learn more, we learn to do different things, and we try to act as "grown-ups", but part of us still likes doing some of the same things as when we were younger. Apart from railways, I see no reason to stop enjoying the types of rock music that started in the 1960s - and no reason to change to the types of music that was once supposed to "suit" older people.

Not sure if a simiar principle applies to women - they remain an incomprehensible (irrational) mystery to me. I wasted years believing one who kept saying "someday we will be a permanent couple."

Without wishing to offend whatever tiny handful there might be, of female RailUKForums members: BP, I feel much the same way as you, re the female gender – my dealings with them, have tended to be problem-beset.

Acting the armchair (and likely, without-the-faintest-idea) psychologist: I’d suspect that some women do do some going-back-to and delighting in stuff that in juvenile times, they took pleasure in. Overall, I’d think, a lot less so than among men – what with women doing IMO inevitably, the major day-in-day-out part of raising and socialising the next generation: they find a greater necessity of modelling adult behaviour and adult priorities, and tend to act accordingly – “what with one thing and another”, the majority of women do become mothers (or primary kid-carers anyway), and carry out that role to the best of their ability. Or maybe I’m spouting utter bollocks...
 

southern442

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When I was younger, I was the MD of the successful TOC French Connection. Yes, named after the store, and no, I don't believe there were many services to France. Trains would start from London (insert my old street name here), or sometimes Norbury Station, and there were also services operated by Rocket Trains and First Gene Trains (who were nowhere near as bad as the current first train services). The whole network was rather confusing, but essentially it covered what were once the roads in Britain, plus several other lines, the main one of which being the Gosport Main line.

Most services on this line would just call at Woodmansterne Common and Old Portsmouth, although a few also stopped at IKEA Central, Sally's House (I have no idea where I got that name from) and Portsmouth Lamp Post. There were also several intermediate stations for local services. IKEA Central was IKEA in Purley way, and It was pretty damn big, with loads of platfoms (one for each parking space plus some more for the self-serve areas). Woodmansterne Common had 2 platforms numbered 12 and 13, that had a large area between the two tracks (like Havant or Cheam), there may have also been a few local platforms. I can also recall that it had wrong-road running. Sally's House was originally the next stop on the line until a new station whose name I cannot remember opened. I believe it had Neon lighting on the floor and a single island platform. Sally's House itself was in a cuboid-shaped building with a dirty glass and steel roof, like the old one at London Bridge. It had a large faded sign on one wall that bore the station name.

I can't really remember much about the other stations, except that Portsmouth Lamp Post was a rather basic halt and Old Portsmouth had spiral platforms. I also invented a new country, Austrica, that had a rather vast rail network.

I would be more than happy to go into more detail about other lines if anyone wants me to :D
 
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