The Barge Job

A Canadian-based industrial layout, present times.

Layout's status : available for exhibitions

Layout presentation

Vancouver and the surrounding region is one of Canada’s major ports on the west coast of North America. The many islands in the Fraser River delta are used to unload all kinds of goods. Annacis Island is home to numerous industries, as well as significant import/export traffic for automobiles, and rail barge traffic to industries on the surrounding islands.

The layout shows the southern part of Annacis Island. Here, the track runs alongside the river and serves numerous industries: brewery, storage buildings, mechanical plant, very large agro-industrial complex, etc. The tracks pass under the Alex Fraser Bridge, a characteristic feature reproduced on the layout.

Of course, reality is difficult to copy faithfully on a miniature layout, and this layout is no exception: buildings have been shortened somewhat, distances revised, a few elements moved or ignored, and, contrary to reality, all the industries present are served by rail! The highlight of the layout is still the loading dock for the barge serving Vancouver Island and other waterfront locations.

Service is provided by a shortline like many others in North America: the Southern Railway of British Columbia? (SRY). This (very real) company owns 120 kilometers of main line, and is connected to Canadian National, Canadian Pacific and BNSF. It operates about 30 locomotives and owns several thousand railcars, the latter leased to companies wishing to transport their goods throughout North America.

Layout’s characteristics

The layout’s plan, as it is installed in my home office.
The layout is 2.4 x 2.6 meters, excluding the staging. It is installed on shelves. The element between the layout and the staging is removable.
  • Name: Annacis Island - The Barge Job
  • Scale: N (1:160)
  • Scenicked area, excluding backdrop: 2.4 x 2.6 metres, maximum depth 0.4 metres.
  • Theme: industrial service
  • Inspiration: based on a real prototype
  • Location: Annacis Island, Greater Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Period: current, early spring
  • Operation: waybills
  • Presentation: shelf layout in shadowcases
  • Control : Digital NCEfr

The layout is L-shaped, and is usually mounted on top of shelves in an office, which constrains its width. It was also designed to be transported on display, which constrained the design of the modules to fit the car.

Only the flexible track and rolling stock were purchased off-the-shelf; the rest was created from scratch using plastic, wood, cardboard, rails, etc. The track structure is made of MDF and extruded polystyrene.

The layout is operated using waybillsfr assigning a destination to each wagon. This is what led to its construction. This practice is quite rare in Europe and deserves to be better known, as it significantly enhances the interest of “running trains”. It is compatible with exhibition presentation.

Exhibition data sheet

Layout’s presentation

The layout is presented on tables, with the track level 1.15 meters above floor. The aim is to encourage discovery for children and wheelchair users. Chairs are provided for the public to sit and watch.

The operation is carried out from the public’s side, enabling rich interaction and opening up the possibility of involving the public in the operation whenever possible.

The sensitive element of the layout is the backstage area, which must remain out of reach of the public, even if it is relatively protected. Access to the slide must be possible for layout operators. Passage in front of the slide to be possible for other exhibitors (for example, for access to the rear of their layouts).

Material requirements

  • A sufficient number of folding tables to set up the layout. These tables must all be stable, flat and of the same height.
  • Several chairs for the public.
  • For the operator, a means of moving around while remaining seated (office chair with castors, wheelchair, stool with castors, etc.).
  • A 220V outlet (can be 110V)
  • A means of closing off access to the slide.
  • A means of closing the public space in case of absence, to prevent the public from approaching.
Exhibition setup


  • Le Cendre, May 2022
  • Gennevilliers, April 2023
  • Saint-Mandé, January 20 and 21, 2024

Press coverage

  • RMF n°667, July-August 2023


  • Camille Hamm (moral support, good ideas, kicks in the butt),
  • Boomer Diorama (real site documentation, modeling techniques)1,
  • Mike Hughes (real site documentation),
  • Nick Quiddity Wilson (rolling stock carrier),
  • Roan Catrope Kattaow (rolling stock carrier),
  • Jérôme JBLB Bréheret (carpentry),
  • Stéphane Bisson and Evan Prodromou (rolling stock carriers),
  • Le Forum US (moral support, good ideas),
  • Matthew Robson (documentation of the actual site),
  • Chris Medland (real site documentation),
  • NMRA British Region (moral support, good ideas).


↑ 1 Any resemblance is not accidental: we have the same theme. But I started my layout a year before he did. :p