Electric traction, often just called Traction, is a common method of powering railways.  Above are current-day “streetcars”, also called light rail vehicles (LRV’s).  They are but two of numerous examples of traction railroads worldwide, such as:

  • Streetcars
  • Interurbans - These ran, as the name implies, between cities.  Many of the older interurbans would operate on city streets with the street cars.  Once at the edge of town, they would go onto private rights of way and operate at higher speeds.  They would carry both passengers and light freight such as packages and milk from local farms. A classic interurban:

Although they no longer carry package freight and they no longer run down city streets, there are still modern examples of “interurbans”, but we call them by different names.

  • Subways - Likewise, many large cities have electric powered subways:
  • Electric freight - These operations were also common, particularly in the Midwest. Here, an Illinois Terminal “C” type locomotive rolls down a street in Morton, Illinois:

There are still a few electric powered freight operations, while others have dieselized (such as the Illinois Terminal).  Likewise,

  • Mainline freight railroad operations are largely history:

While many examples of electric traction are history, there remain people that want to create models of electric traction.  You will find that traction modeling is interesting and somewhat challenging, but you will also see some excellent modeling work by those who do traction.  It is not quite as easy as being in regular model railroading, but, then again, that’s part of the interest.

Traction modeling offers you a great deal of action in a small space.  With streetcars, you can have several cars operating in a short distance, each operating as their own “train”.  Streetcars rounded sharper curves, so a typical traction model railroad layout will be smaller, too. You can operate in a space as small as two foot by four foot in H0.  Here, a small railroad in development that measures 30” by 60”:

You will also find that traction modeling requires some new skills.  These pages are a small guide toward producing such models.

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