Sometimes model railroading causes the question of whether genius and madness are related? In this rail transport modeling video, we find the answer to whether a crazy model railroader or a legendary genius has built this very large model railway layout of the German city of Stuttgart.
This miniature world built in N scale is the life’s work of Wolfgang Frey. He was a German model railway enthusiast who passed away in 2012. In November 1978, Wolfgang Frey had started building his model train layout. His dream was to build an exact scale model of Stuttgart’s central main station, of all platforms, of all houses and buildings, of all roads, of all tramway lines, of all signal boxes, of all freight stations, of all locomotive sheds and of all surrounding railway lines.
Every day, mostly in the evening hours when he came back from work, he built this model railway. He built for more than 30 years until his death. We are not talking about a diorama, which has an area of one or two square meters. No, we are talking about a private miniature world that covers more than 800 square meters. Everything you see in this video is a unique rarity.
Originally, Wolfgang Frey had started building in HO scale. Soon, he had to realise that the dimensions of his replica would become much too large. Therefore, he decided to switch to N scale. So he started to build the large front building of Stuttgart’s central main station. This was followed by the platforms and the surrounding railway stations. Wolfgang Frey built all himself.
When watching this video, many viewers of Pilentum Television will notice that the model railway layout has a lot of defects. Yes, it is in poor condition. But Wolfgang Frey’s sudden death - almost ten years ago - led to the fact that we discover a unique but unfortunately never completed work of art that has suffered a lot from storage, transport and water damage. It was a private model railway layout, and after the death of Wolfgang Frey in 2012, the layout had only been accessible to a handful of people. Indeed, the N scale layout has almost been forgotten.
Thanks to the efforts of Rainer Braun, who took over the heritage of Wolfgang Frey, and thanks to the efforts of the enthusiastic members of a local model railway club, it was possible to dismantle fragments, modules and segments. They rebuild not all, but many sections of the original model railway layout into a permanent exhibition, which is now called “Stellwerk S”. Anyone who is familiar with railway modelling knows the catastrophic consequences of dismantling and rebuilding - especially when a model railroad layout was originally designed as a permanent, fixed layout for eternity.
All this might explain why only a few of the many tracks are currently used by model trains, why there is no digital model railway control like DCC and why thousands of cables and points have not yet been wired. The construction plan and the wiring existed in Wolfgang Frey’s mind and were permanently lost with his death. Of course, it would be nice if the rolling stock, which consists of an incredible number of locomotives and wagons, could run every second in the large main station or shunt in the railway depot on the other site. But it takes a lot of time to turn Stuttgart’s model railway into a “Miniatur Wunderland”.
However, Wolfgang Frey never had the intention of building a “Miniature Wunderland”. He wanted to create a true-to-the-original city model of Stuttgart and of its railway infrastructure. He did not build a commercial model train exhibition. This fact becomes very clear when we analyse the dimensions that the model railway layout had shortly before Wolfgang Frey passed away: The layout required an area of almost 800 square meters; this included about 90 square meters where a replica of the original signal box was installed, which served as the control room for the model trains.
In real life, Wolfgang Frey was a train dispatcher, so that railway operations and railway technology on his model railway had to match the original railway system of the German Federal Railways, also known as “Deutsche Bundesbahn”. 17 computers were needed to control the model trains. Hardware and software had to coordinate 540 switches or points and more than 90 signals.
When Wolfgang Frey was four years old, his parents gave him his first toy train set. Since then he has been infected by the railway passion both privately and professionally. From November 1978 to October 2012, Wolfgang Frey built one of the largest private model railways in Germany. Every switch, every point, every street, every road and every building of the city of Stuttgart can be found on the model railway layout true to the original. Today, it is still unbelievable that Wolfgang Frey built this miniature world on his own. It is amazing that he has worked with such extreme attention to detail that this model railway layout allows us to travel back in time today.