Sunday, November 03, 2019

Introduction to the Welztalbahn: Track Plan Evolution

I drew many track plans in Xtrkcad for the Welztalbahn, especially in the 9 months before construction started in 2008. The outcome of that is a series of blog posts that led to a train room update when the train room in the garage was actually complete. Note to the self, don't go into detailed planning until exact room dimensions are locked in. Otherwise, you find yourself redoing a good chunk of the plan...

As construction progressed, I made many changes to the plan. Emsingen station probably changed the most from the initial plan. I added a Lokstation with turntable and various freight facilities, and decided to change the freight area after I built it and ran some trains, by rearranging yard and loading tracks. Finally, in 2012 I added a 4th yard track in Emsingen to help smooth the flow during operations.

In the plan from 2008, Talheim has only a couple rudimentary tracks. Over time, and through multiple revisions the track arrangement grew into supporting 4 industries with multiple car spots. With that many cars in and out of Talheim, I needed to extend the run around track, too.

In 2019 the modular expansion of the layout started off by adding another turnout in Emsingen.

Staging remained mostly unchanged over the years. I added a few more staging tracks under Talheim. You can never have too much staging.

I have not gone back and updated the original track plan with what was actually built. As you can see, even today it's a work in progress. Just like in the prototype the layout of tracks in stations and in between is dictated by the operational needs of the railroad. Many of the changes I made were driven by a specific problem or idea I wanted to address. While ready-made tracks plans are nice, it's important to recognize that these plans are driven by the specific needs and desires of the person who drew them. Maybe they are interested in a specific operations scheme. Maybe they are trying to replicate a prototype faithfully, or more likely using selective compression fit the prototype into their available space, with compromises that work for them.

When creating a model railroad, it's important to think about what _you_ want, and what makes _you_ happy. If you are not sure, start with a published plan and find out what works for you. Then change the plan to fit your needs.

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