urban switching shelf layout - feedback please



I'd like to get some feedback regarding what you guys think of a new modular shelf layout design.
I'm hoping it will be a good challenge without becoming too frustrating. Not exactly like a "timesaver puzzle" but also not as easy as a simple yard.
I'm sharing the design and a fully operational TrainPlayer file so you can actually try it out (You will need TrainPlayer software, a free demo is here: http://www.trainplayer.com/Site3/DemoRegistration.html)
Here is the zip file:
I welcome any comments, suggestions, frustrations, etc. either reply to this post or at my blog:
a bit more about the design:

New Annieville is a medium sized HO scale switching layout on a two foot shelf of 12 foot length.  The design principles include a strong industrial supply chain focus and tightly spaced urban setting.

New Annieville is designed with expandability in mind. As well as the mainline extending to the right, there are curved tracks leaving at both front and rear of the shelf, allowing either peninsula or through-wall expansion. 

Features include:

-          Spots for up to 15 industries

-          One medium offset runaround and one small mainline runaround ensure operational challenges

-          Switchback and direct spurs

-          Appealing visuals

o   Diamond crossing near front

o   Long viewing angles

o   Some angled industries

o   “main street” background area

o   Mix of “flats”, low profile, angled half-structures, and full structures

-          Expandable and modular compatible

Flexible alterations:

-          With very little effort the layout could be squeezed into a slimmer shelf (16” to 18”) but the scenic possibilities for structures would be sacrificed.

-          As drawn, the leftmost 3 feet are tapered off to ease room entry, however, this same section could be straightened into a connector for additional modular expansion.

-          A 90 degree crossing mainline could easily be added to the right of the curved expansion tracks, to join the through-wall and peninsula modules.


Passenger function?

If the station is for passengers, why is it on a spur off a spur off the main line?  Surely there would be a requirement for through passenger service too. Which wouldn't  want to do unnecessary switching just to drop off an pick up passengers.



valid point Andy!

It is weird i guess but in the area I model (northern British Columbia) it's not unusual for passenger service to by off-mainline (and often off in the mud). 

also i sortof added it as an afterthought once i realized i had enough space to sacrifice that back area, otherwise it could be used for 2-3 industries. I might actually do a swappable structure scenario and turn it into industries anyway.

- Ken


steinjr's picture

 You are trying to put far

 You are trying to put far too too much into the available space, giving you lots of turnouts, very short spurs and very small industries.  Better to have fewer industries, but with more spots per industry (so cars have to be placed in a specific order on the track, maybe also spotted exactly at doors or loading or unloading equipment).

 It is also often a bad idea to have switchbacks leads that also function as industries, so you have to move away the cars on the lead (e.g. at the passenger station) to move cars out of or into the Kenmore and Promethius  (or however you want to spell Prometheus). There is also little or no room for modeling the industry at the team track of Tuffy's salvage.

 But the main critcism is that is that you are trying to squeeze too much into the available space.

 Stein, who also love urban switching layouts



cram packed

Hi Stein - yeah it is pretty jam-packed alright!  I wanted to have one or two of these "problem areas" that you mentioned, where a switchback lead is also an industry spot. This provides a bit more challenge n that you may have to clear that industry first and load it last so that it's car's aren't in the way for the rest of the switching.

The trick here is to find a good balance. Since it will be my only operating layout for a while I would get bored if all the switching was too straight forward, but I also want to make sure I dont' get too frustrated operating it. I should point out that it is definately NOT meant to act like a yard on a regular layout with operating sessions, so there should be SOME similarity to something like an "inglebrook" or "timesaver" but with a bit more flexibility so that it is not EXACTLY a PUZZLE.

I guess that's why I'm hoping some folks will actually try operating it using TrainPlayer and report back on whether it was fun and how challenging it was.

- Ken

steinjr's picture

 Well, Ken -  To me, what

 Well, Ken -

 To me, what makes a switching situation interesting is not having lots and lots of turnouts, and tracks running every which way. It is having an interesting scenario.

 Take this dead simple track plan with one turnout:


 Loaded cars for the customer will be put into a specific order, since the customer needs the content to be unloaded in that specific order for their production. Loaded cars will be placed in positions Pit, 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5. As the car over the pit has been unloaded, the customer will release brakes and ride it down to the part of the spur where the unloaded cars are kept, and then roll another loaded car in over the unloading pit.

 Sometimes cars have to be resorted, because the customer has to change their production due to a demand different from what initially was assumed.

 Your train has just arrived from the right, with four loaded cars, which are to be put into positions Pit, 5, 2 and 4. Your task is to pull the two empty cars A and B, spot the inbound loads, and put the still unloaded cars already at the spur into the right unloading sequence.

 It is late, you are tired, and you want to finish the job as fast as possible. How would you go about getting cars sorted out reasonably fast?

 (The sketch is based on a sketch presented by poster Zug at the Kalmbach Trains Magazine forum).

 And the situation is not dependent on it being an unloading pit or having cars roll past an unloading spot. The track could just as well have been a grocery distribution warehouse, where frozen goods needs to be unloaded at door 5, produce at door 4, beverages at door 3, canned goods at door 2, and dry good at door 1, with heating oil delivered to a tank at position 0. Or a company that makes candies, or a scrap dealer where different types of scrap are unloaded at different positions, or a track that has three smaller industries side by side or whatever.

 For some more ideas about car spot, see Linda and Dave Sand's web page about their layouts, especially the train briefs and spot diagrams for their Cedar River Terminal layout: http://www.sandsys.org/modelrr/modelbuilt/crt/



spotting order

Hi Stein - yes I see what you mean, I hadn't really thought about the spots as much as the industries themselves but this is a very interesting approach! I will read those links you suggested and think about this some more - thanks for your help!

I've been messing with.......

........... your trackplan, and this is one possibility:

Obviously I love brick canyons!. Red outlines are buildings, grey are roads. 


Long life to Linux The Great!

great links - thank you Prof!

great links - thank you Prof!

the pipopak refactorization

ooh yeah ! i like these improvements alot. The way you rearranged some of the industries makes it more of the "sorting" mentioned earlier in the thread, and the runaround on the diagonal run is a great idea. I might not be able to do it though since I want those expansion tracks out the front and back, but i am definately taking these edits back to the drawing board and see what i can do with them - THANKS pipopak!

ps - the roads are a nice touch too which should greatly improve realism

Brick canyon - love it :-)

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