In an ideal world, If I was to start all over again I would probably opt for EM, however with 25 years of toy trains under my belt, Personally I wouldn't want to be running two standards, so will stay with '00'. I like to swap stock around between my two (soon to be three – excluding Arne Wharf which is 009) standard gauge layouts anyway. Certainly with 'modern image', EM appears to be a doddle (I guess from reading here), for historical reasons it’s not for me simply due to inter-changeability.
In the defence of ‘00’, like many, I have limited time (model railways are not my only interest), so any time I can save by not re-gauging and re-wheeling locos and stock can be put into the concept, design & scenery instead.
In defence of scale track, the Peco points (mixed with SMP bullhead) on my latest 'trainset' were an experiment (I can and have built my own track), whilst they're far from ideal, they can be made to look quite effective. In hindsight, with the modifications needed to make them look better and work properly, I don't think there was any time saved over building them myself – for this reason it’s unlikely I will repeat the exercise. I do believe that the Peco points with bolt/rail fixing for a modern themed layout portraying flat-bottomed track do look a lot better than rail soldered to copper paxoline (without cosmetic bolts that is). My next ‘trainset’ will use C&L components for this reason – albeit in ‘00’ (another side on shunting plank).
There are a lot of other things which are as important when it come to 'realism'; design, viewing angle (avoid head on viewing angles in '00', not such a problem with a shunting plank) and colouring are very important too. Colouring being a real issue, just because it has Woodland Scenics or suchlike on the side of the packet it doesn't mean it's correct.
I think in this country, many model makers are engineers rather than artists, and there's nothing wrong with that. I get a couple of foreign magazines and it's interesting to see the different approach they take the other side of the various ponds, with many modellers being 'railway modellers’ rather than 'locomotive stock and track modellers'. At a guess, a lot of this is down to the fact that we've been way behind the rest of the world 'ready to run' wise for so many years (until now); this meaning that we've had to spend our time building stock, whereas modellers outside the UK have been able to buy much of what they want off the shelf. With the rolling stock being better, passion and time goes into other aspects of the model railway like concept, scenery and structures etc.
At the end of the day, do what suits you, it's only a hobby after all. Most of what I write is total garbage too....
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