If you’re asking German model railroaders and railway enthusiast, where to find the most outstanding permanent model railway exhibition in Germany, they will probably answer, this is the “Modellbundesbahn”. In fact, the “Modellbundesbahn” is a superb HO scale permanent display layout, constructed to museum quality. In 2007, the British railway journal “Continental Modeller” called this layout the “German equivalent of Pendon Museum”.
On the contrary to many other model railway layouts, which are presented in Germany, this HO scale display is an accurate and historically correct scale model of Ottbergen railway station and its locomotive shed as they were in 1975. Buildings, locomotives and trains are carefully weathered. There are no high speed trains. No, there are freight trains, local passenger trains and a lot of railway traffic at the classification yard or marshalling yard as it was usual in the early 1970’s.
Over time the loco depot at Ottbergen, housing the strong steam locomotives, type Class 44, was to become famous as one of the last major centers of steam in Germany. Also in the early 1970’s, there was a young boy, called Karl Fischer, living near the railway line in Ottbergen. When he was a child, for countless hours, he stood near the railway line and watched the large steam locomotives of the German Federal Railroad. He was fascinated by the Class 44 steam train locomotives, and of course, he was fascinated by the big marshalling yard - right behind his parent’s house.
Twenty years later, Karl Fischer, had a dream: He wanted to recreate Ottbergen in miniature as an authentic historic record. Captured by its memories of the steam age, 30 years later in October 2005, the first stage was opened in Bad Driburg. The layout had been built in sections and was assembled as a large U shape. On one side is a scale model of Ottbergen railway station and the famous loco depot. On the other side is an accurate scale model of Bad Driburg railway station.
The HO scale display was built over a period of eight years. Taking around 35,000 man hours. Occupies about 100 square meters and consists of 1,100 meters of track, 216 points and 83 signals. When building this miniature world a lot of emphasis was put on reality. There are no gimmicks, just high quality railway modelling at realistic speeds, using authentic train formations. Trains run at authentic scale speeds. The landscape is modelled to a very high standard. The first stage of the railway layout was constructed by professional builder Gerhard Dauscher, while the second stage has been supervised by Michael Butkay. The buildings are mostly scratchbuilt, or at least heavily adapted, as few commercially available kits were correct.
In 2009 Karl Fischer and his team decided to expand the layout. This was not just a simple case of an addition but involved modification of the existing installation. A large new central module was added with a new railway station. If you look at the cab ride, you will discover this new section because it was used as a starting point of the POV drive. Furthermore, this “point of view video”, some say “first person view video”, which was made by Pilentum with great passion, is a very good way to get to know this model railway layout exactly.
Everything was fine by the year 2017. But then, Karl Fischer and his team, especially Norbert Sickmann, decided on a change. The old location of the model railway exhibition had become too small. An enlargement of the layout or an extension of the exhibition area was not possible. Therefore, the entire installation was dismantled in the summer of 2017 and rebuilt in a completely new exhibition hall. At the end of May 2018, the new exhibition was opened in the city of Brakel, approximately 15 kilometers away from the old location.
Today, the size of the whole installation makes it necessary to use a digital control system, using the software “TrainController”. Control of trains, control of accessories, occupancy detectors and locomotive decoders are based on the “Selectrix” digital model train control system. Finally, there are more than 80 locomotives, 900 items of rolling stock, 150 buildings, 7,000 figures, more than 1,500 trees and 2,500 shrubs. There is an ongoing programming to fit interior lighting to all coaches. Actually, the new car system is running. And, as you can see on the cab ride train journey, inside the new location is enough space to expand the railway installation.