Railway models in most wargames are restricted to a role as objectives, or perhaps the appearance of an armoured train tortuously worked into the scenario because the owner bought one of those nice Peter Pig models. Strategically and operationally though, railways came into their own in the east over distances of 200 miles or so, where their ability to move tonnages of stores were in the order of :
“1600 lorries were needed to equal the capacity of just one double tracked railway line“.
van Crefeld (1976) Supplying war – Chapter 5 – Russian Roulette p.143, (which chapter is the source for most of the following post.)
Grosstransportraum, the German body of trucks operating between railheads and the rear echelons of the fighting formations’ own organic transport (Kleinkollonenraum), would allow the army groups to penetrate 300 miles into the Soviet Union. The Germans planned to advance 500 miles into the Soviet Union, bridging the gap with handkoffer, or containerised fuel carried by the army groups themselves. To make up for a shortfall in motor transport for the Kleinkollonen, captured French and Allied transport was used until it became unservicable.
The Wehrmacht’s problems were compounded by poor or absent roads and Soviet railways that were of lighter gauge and had trains that thrived on poorer coal than the German ones, so it was not just a simple matter of resetting the rails and using captured Russian coal. To add insult to injury, when the freezing weather came, the heavier German trains had exposed steam pipes that ruptured if left standing
So in NQM terms, every army group has at least one railhead with a Grosstransport column linking it to the rear area of the army group. Due to the usual space constraints these usually only ever appear in big multiplayer games. You can see one here behind Moscow :
The flow of ammunition (combat units, or CUs) and fuel (POL) between the railhead and fighting formations is usually only modelled in solo games or larger multiplayer games, where a willing participant can be found.
The logistic game either interests you, or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t then there is no pleasure to be had from slogging through a book-keeping exercise that slows down the game and adds no enjoyment to the gaming experience. If you are prepared to foray into the black art of logistics, however, then it gives a deeper understanding of why so often armies appeared to stop when any fool could see that a few more miles would have given a victory.