Writing as an intending user, not a commissioner, the plastic connection would appear to be to ensure the electrical integrity of the unit because it comes ready wired with a very narrow gap between the tongues and the stock rails, about half of that on the code 87 HO 1 in 6 turnout. Interestingly, that has a similar tie-bar but a different arrangement on the switch rails – the tongues have a metal pivot and are cut electrically in a more prototypical location, although somewhat further towards the toe than it should be. The EM one has the break previously mentioned and another very close to the crossing. The HO track has considerably thicker sleepers (ties!).
With regard to the sleepering on the plain track, it is difficult to see the difference in the sleeper spaces at the end of the panels, especially if you start at the wrong end, due to the flexitrack construction, but the centres and ends are marked in the small print on the underside. The drawback with it is not so much the price, a length of track after all is £5, but in estimating the length required. There is 33″ of sleepering and 36″ of rail. Traditionally track has come in 36″ lengths and helpfully Anyrail can provide a total length of flextrack. One would normally add a percentage for waste and cutting, however, the unwary might find their purchase 10% short. It will be interesting to see what length Anyrail will assign to it.
The track base is a single piece so could have been made longer with one panel being slightly longer than the others, which is what will happen once pieces are cut to length. Presumably, one will need to remove sleepers from the centre of a panel to achieve the proper spacing at the rail joints, or should I have planned all rail sections to be in multiples of 60ft?
There was an interesting observation on having 9ft sleeper lengths for the not inconsiderable number of pre-grouping modellers. Probably not the target market, which is possibly those contemplating a quick wheel change on a diesel locomotive, and contrary to the adage, “I model what I remember as a kid”, and my experience at exhibitions. Interestingly, the Member layouts section has 12 Pre-Grouping, 11 Post-Grouping and 30 Post Nationalisation.
My only gripe is the amount of sprue tags to be removed, so still scope for real modelling!