Again we need a cultural translation here: trolley = streetcar = tram. Streetcars tended to be smaller that the big interurbans running between towns. But you could find an interurban winding its way through the city traffic on its way to the city terminal.
What is missing from a trolley layout is extensive freight operations. Freight cars might be seen on inner city tracks, but this was not common. What you might see is a freight motor (in the UK think the Southern Region Motor Luggage Van) moving small quantities of freight around. But the passenger service is intense, although it will consist of a single coach, or perhaps two. (Having said all this, there will be exceptions to the rule somewhere – please don’t tell me I’m completely wrong).
So a trolley layout has real potential for a tight space. Short trains, very sharp curves, lots of urban scenery to model. There is a lot going for such a layout, if you can face the idea of a layout with little freight and few of the conventional railway buildings.
To illustrate the potential, here are two links to excellent layouts. The first is Fred Miller’s HO scale trolley model site (http://www.fnbcreations.net/tractionfan/). Here are a couple of photos from the site, showing the high detail and concentrated modelling. If you wonder about the curves, they are 6 ¼” radius representing a prototype 45 ft radius – in HO scale. Even TOMIX Japanese tram track has a smallest radius of 4″!
I was somewhat annoyed to find that the entire layout now lives in Charlotte’s Trolley museum. We tried to visit the museum when visiting Charlotte – but it was closed. And that was before I discovered the layout was there.
The second layout is again HO and from Australia. Victoria Street, living at http://glennofootscray.blogspot.com.au/ describes itself as:
“A small model tramway layout loosely based on the Melbourne Metropolitan Tramway Board (MMTB). Originally set up as a test track, like all layouts evolved into some thing more, with a slight west suburban slant towards its location.
The modules are only 57cm long by 19cm deep, so far there are four complete modules (railway station and racecourse, the original modules), another module is the undecorated fiddle yard (city) and two recent modules are (the railway gates and the bend, Epsom Rd). Victoria St can run as an end of line tramway, a heritage/regional (SEC) line, and a shuttle passenger service with short shunting at the station to service extra punters for the racecourse to a time table run to a 3:1 fast clock.”
Again note the size of the modules – again remember these are HO scale. Below are photos from the site, showing the compact size.