How long did it take to build?

The railway began construction in August 2021 after our move to Jersey. If you ask Nikki and Curtis, it is never truly “done” but most of the building work was completed by winter 2021 and Curtis and Nikki started planting in Spring 2022.

Since then, it’s evolved and grown, and will likely continue to in the years to come. There is always something to add!

Where did the name HSBA come from?

This particular model railway is modelled after Swiss/Austrian/German railways, which is why all the names are “Germanised.”

There is a real railway called HSB, which you might see a lot of on our railway 🙂

HSBA comes from a combination of our family names:

  • Heffron (Curtis’ mums maiden name)
  • Stainer (Curtis’ dads name)
  • Barette (Curtis’ step-dad’s name)
  • Anderson (Nikki’s maiden name)

Within our stations, we’ve also included the names of our close friends!

What size in the railway?

The layout is G-Scale (a space of 45mm between the rails) with the locomotives and wagons being approximately 22.5 times smaller than the real thing. Our layout is currently over 138m (455ft) of track that winds through our garden!

What happens when it rains?

Nothing! Well, if Curtis is out with the trains, he scrambles them to get inside as, although they can be out in the rain for a bit, it’s not the best for the locomotives and the wagons. However, the track is brass so it doesn’t rust and can be out through the entire year, as can all the buildings!

We bring the figures and scenery in over winter but that’s more to ensure the wind doesn’t get to them too much!

Did you both want to build it? What does Nikki think?

Yes! It had been Curtis’ childhood dream to build a garden railway and, while at first Nikki was a bit skeptical, she realised she could incorporate her love of gardening into the track plan.

We absolutely love to work together on the garden and the railway and have our own jobs. Curtis does most of the trains and electronics while Nikki focuses on the planting and the scenery!

How does it work?

That’s a big question. In short, the locomotives draw 19V directly from the track through their wheels and the system is DCC (Digital Command Control).

If you had a model train as a kid, you’ll remember you had a controller with a dial which the more you turn the faster it goes. On our layout, the track always have full power and the ‘controller’ is a small chip inside the locomotive which responds to commands from a handheld controller.

This same controller is used to control the points (turnouts) and signals too. All the mains electrical equipment is stored in the garage which wires running to other components hidden around the layout (in grey boxes or inside buildings)

Is it finished?

It is a never-ending project, in the best way! Curtis has a never-ending to-do list and also a never-ending watchlist on eBay (where he purchases most of the trains secondhand). Whenever there is a new locomotive, Curtis might need to digitise it or put sound in it.

We are constantly looking for new figures and scenery to add to the layout, as well as interesting buildings and smaller details.

Nikki also loves to go to the garden centre to see if she can squeeze just one more plant in!

Why do you hold open days?

It is so nice to share our space with everyone – we’ve worked very hard to put the garden railway together and love to see kids and adults enjoying the space. It’s been such a magical experience.

We also would love to grow visibility of the hobby on the island and spread the potential for others to have g-scale trains in their garden (it’s easy to get started!). It’s definitely a different and unique experience so sharing that with others is fun for us!

Finally, we love raising money for local charities (our past ones include Jersey Rescue Dogs, Jersey Christmas Appeal, & Finni’s Ark) and all of what we earn (admission, drinks, sponsors) goes to the charity we are currently supporting.

Do you have more pictures and videos?

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