the end of 2021 I was fed up with my old IT systems job and decided it
was time for a change. The prospect of an approaching 40th birthday made
me think that life would be more fun if it could involve more trains,
and more independence.
have been a dabbling modeller in OO gauge for quite a while, with a
quite conventional, unfinished, British outline freelance loft layout.
In addition I'd been buying, cleaning up and selling models online to
help fund the hobby. I found this almost as rewarding as running trains.
had some ideas about how I could make this a full-time occupation, but
in the end an accidental discovery led me along the journey to acquire
the Train Trax website (www.traintrax.co.uk)
in January. Train Trax exclusively sells KATO products in Ngauge.
Keith, the previous owner who had run it for 14 years, had decided to
take a long overdue retirement.
So I collected a very full van load of N gauge stock from Surrey. Included was a mass of Kato Unitrack, Japanese trains of all types, North American locos,
wagons, buildings and all the accessories. On arrival at my brand new
HQ in York I had to make sense of it all - I had dealt with very little N
gauge or KATO stock previously!
I was first drawn to the trains which I was familiar with in real life: the Class 800 in LNER and GWR liveries, the Eurostar and TGV. My first impression was how intricate and good value they were. Once I'd had a good play with those I
then explored the rest of the range of trains. They always find that
they work straight out of the box - pop them on some Unitrack and off
they go with no fuss.
was probably the biggest revelation to me. It just clicks together and
is ready to go. Fantastic Japanese precision engineering. There's no
need for fettling of joints or soldering, and it can be re-configured
repeatedly. The aesthetics of it might not suit the finescale purist,
but for me reliable running beats that, and it's still perfectly
possible to ballast and weather it to blend it into a scenic layout. I
wish I'd known about it before I'd laid my own track, as I could have
avoided a lot of hard work and frustration!
The previous owner of Train Trax recommended that I join the N Gauge Society,
and I'm glad that I did. I found the local area group a friendly bunch,
and by co-incidence found that they were experimenting with T-TRAK - a modular layout standard that relies on Kato Unitrack. One thing led to another, and now I'm retailing the laser-cut module kits that the group has designed.
the variety of stock that the group runs - UK, European, Japanese and
North American has reminded me that one of the best things about the
world of railways is the variety of different ways of doing things
around the world. From very little previous interest, I now find myself
researching the history of different North American loco liveries on behalf of my customers!
been a fun journey with Train Trax so far, but not without its
challenges. Along the way I've learnt about global logistics and search
engine optimisation. I now find myself running a small business in an
incredibly difficult economic climate, so support from all the loyal
customers that have continued to buy while the business was transferred
is particularly valued. What next for Train Trax? KATO continue to have
an interest in the UK market, via partners Gaugemaster and PECO, and are
releasing new products every month, so there's plenty of excitement
still to come.
Phil: I've not been paid for this blog post, but I'm happy to host it as a way of helping out people in the hobby. It appearing here in no way counts as an edorsement of the company. For all I know he's operating a Victorian sweatshop with small children being forced to do all the work. I doubt it, but I'll admit I haven't checked. I do like Unitrack though - used it in the past and it's great stuff.