The Flatland Mindset
What was our model railway for? For personal pleasure: but that should be the case regardless of how serious anyone takes railway modelling.
My personal emphasis is on the creation of a model that "looks right" and that I can have some fun with especially in terms of automation and model building.
I draw a big, indeed huge, distinction between 'right' and 'accurate'. I have chosen a gauge that was never in common use in the UK but I'm running UK-style rolling stock. This makes it wildly inaccurate from the perspective of any UK railway precedent but I maintain that there is no intrinsic reason why this is not a reasonable gauge (indeed, so maintains most of Europe) and thus it looks "right", or at least "reasonable".
This may seem a bit lazy for more purist modellers, but I'd say that a rational-looking railway is a better model than a sub-millimetre perfect rendition of a Class 5 in spotless shiny green plastic. Each to their own, of course; and, for the avoidance of doubt, shiny green '5's are most welcome to visit!
I do get irritated with RTR (Ready-To-Run) models where the scaling is completely bizarre: models where the driver, despite being a mere [scale] 5ft, would never have fitted through the 3ft 6in door! To be clear, I've nothing against any railway running ths sort of stuff, but I do rail (sorry...) against items being sold as to a G "scale" in the same vein as "O", "OO", "N", etc. when they clearly are not. If nothing else, it makes the specification of birthday presents more complex than it need!
Although I couldn't tell a GWR wagon from an LNWR one some consistency of stock is important to me so you won't find mainline passenger coaches on this small industrial branch, nor will you find blatently American stock running behind small British loco's. All stock needs to look like it's real, even if it isn't; so weathering is essential to hide that.
If I can take a photograph and it not be immediately obvious that the photo is of a model, then I'll be content with the achievment. Not achieved that photo yet.
It's most unlikely my aims and desrires are the same as anyone else's, but my list might be a reasonable example list of things to consider before embarking on the Great Cost. So what was I looking for?