It's the first weekend in March, and that means it's time for a new monthly challenge! The results of last month's challenge, Healthcare, was wonderful. I saw a lot of people posting in the comments, in blikis, and elsewhere about all the fascinating health-related places they've mapped. Awesome work, everyone. On a personal note, I'd like to thank everyone for their well-wishes and heart-felt comments. I am recovering quite nicely, and I'm grateful to you for your kind words.
A challenge with… a tutorial
This month's challenge is going to be a bit different, because it involves a partnership with the user Eklas, affectionately known around these parts as "George." George publishes a weekly bliki and has decided to do a four-week tutorial through the month of March about mapping rails. He was gracious enough to let me merge the challenge into it. The hope is that we all can learn something about rail mapping to make our countries look more realistic.
The four topics that will grace the Eklas-bliki will be (links forthcoming):
- Where do railways go? (Posted 05 March)
- Junctions and terrain (Posted 12 March)
- Stations 101 (Posted 19 March)
- Depots and infrastructure (Posted 26 March)
There are two tiers to this challenge: beginner–intermediate and advanced. The beginner–intermediate level is intended for either those with no knowledge of rail or those with only moderate levels of rail infrastructure. The advanced challenge is intended for those with a very high level of railway knowledge and designed to better the site over-all.
- Beginner–intermediate challenge: follow the four-part bliki posts by George about how rails work and design a basic rail system with the following attributes: 2–3 stations in separate communities (commercial or passenger), a depot, a maintenance facility, and rails with appropriate curvature, slopes, and marked crossings.
- Advanced challenge: follow the four-part bliki post and complete the beginner challenge, but also build a port connection, a more advanced structure (such as a roundhouse or turntable), and make the connection between seven or eight different communities. Next, provide active feedback to both George and the users that work through the challenge.
As part of a super-advanced challenge (that everyone can participate in), we are going to do a community-driven effort to improve the making railways wiki page.
A couple quick thoughts about railway necessity and rail culture
Each user on OGF should determine how much rail works for them and within their country. There are a lot of factors that play into rail usage. Terrain is the most obvious, as rail becomes more of an impossibility as terrain is rougher. Mountainous terrains require some very creative engineering. But, density of people and commercial goods also plays in. Dense cities typically rely on rail as a part of their transit network. In much of northern and central Europe, rail is a way of life for passengers and commuters. Countries without large cities or less dense population centers may not see this. Economics are also a factor. Developing nations may not have as much rail, just as they may not have major highways. Large countries with great distances to traverse between resources and ports will use rail more for commercial and industrial uses. North America's rails are primarily used to transport goods and raw materials. Passenger rail there is almost exclusively found in dense urban environments, especially along the Atlantic coast. Small island nations like this are probably not going to need rail as an essential means of transportation. On Malta, for example, rail is essentially non-existent. The culture, history, and economics of a country will determine how the rail system develops.
Lastly, users on OGF have a wide variety of interests. George (Eklas), for one, is fascinated with rail. Others are not. Some, such as myself, see it as one tool of many. There are a variety of reasons for this. Some people live in countries like the UK or Germany, where rail is a primary means of personal transportation. More rail exists here per capita than anywhere else on the globe. Others live in places like the US or Canada, where it is essential for cargo and not as much for people. This all shapes how each of us views the need for rail. Let's please respect each other's culture and views.
Now, let's get mapping! Good luck, everyone!