I was just doing a bit of thinking about how to operate the layout. I know its getting a bit far ahead (there's still the little matter of 4 Ka's to build), but it doesn't hurt to do a wee bit of planning. So, what are the givens and druthers? The layout is intended to be dual use (there's no point designing a layout purely for exhibition display as there is just not the number of exhibitions in this country).
A home layout is operated from the front so that would mean picking a side to actually being the front. Paekakariki has a huge assed hill behind it which dominates the whole area, so this would logically be the back. The plan is to have the station behind a line of houses to set it in the scene better (plus I really want to model the railway settlement as the modeling opportunities could be quite cool).
Exhibition layouts are operated from behind. suddenly the big hill behind is a bit of a liability as the operators have to reach a long way over to do anything. However there is the possibility of operating a layout from the front at an exhibition. This does have the downside that you have to talk to the punters and there is nowhere to hide (behind the layout is good for this).
I've also been thinking about the operator jobs, and I'm now convinced that the signal box is is a viable position. If the north (steam and diesel) and south (electric) drivers are positioned at each end of the layout they will be able to see the signals for the most part. Another thought is that the layout (for exhibitions) could have no front or back, and could be viewed from both sides.
I'm still not sure if there should be a required uniform.
I do like the control panel though.