What Track Planning Software Do You Use Poll

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What One DO You Use For Track Planning?

  • Total voters


Superintendent, CNE RR,
I'm not sure why track planning software is needed. I was designing track plans long before computers. If you answer your own questions as to what you want your railroad to do. How many of your rolling stock will fit on a siding. Age and time of year, etc., granted, a few pads of tracing tissue...stuff all seemed to fall in place for me. I like to keep the computer for chatting with my fellow model railroaders.
Of course, software is not necessary for track planning. But it does have some advantages. If the software supports layers, you can put track, benchwork, scenery, wiring, and backdrop on separate layers and display or print any combination. That's difficult to do with pencil and paper. A computerized track plan is also easier to share with other modelers. Also, many programs have track templates that make your plan more accurate and give you a track "shopping list" automatically.


Superintendent, CNE RR,
I'm not sure who posted the Track Planning Software poll, but to me it seems to assume that a great majority use software to plan their railroad. I'm saying it's just the opposite... software is rarely used to plan a layout. In my 60 years in this hobby, I have built three large layouts and am presently on my fourth (less large, and probably my last). My career as an illustrator and graphic designer has been a great help in scenic design, but knowledge of railroading and a lot of common sense has been my best help over the years. Some of the finest layouts were produced by men and women that didn't even have my background; Lynn Wescott, McClannahan, John Allen (terrific photographer) etc. I would even go so far as to say a computer might even be a hinderance to the creativity need to make a layout great! Remember, whatever the small scale method used to design a trackplan, or eventually a layout, it has to be blown up to full scale to buld it. Sorry to be so lengthy, but I'm getting old and crotchety and love the individuality of our hobby...and it doesn't need a stupid computer! Allan
track planning software isn't for some, but for those that are fluent with the programs it is a very time saving and assures standards are meet. With exact turnout sizes it lets you plan accordingly and helps keep minimum radius's. It lets you see any problems you would have before construction. Pencil and paper work for some. But for me the positives far out weight the negatives and as much as Ive edited id go through 4 trees worth of paper and a truckload of erasers :D As far as having to blow up a small scale design you can just print it full scale. =)
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Allan, I would bet all the names you dropped would have used software if it had been available.
I doubt that the pollster assumed anything and using a computer for any MR work doesn't have a thing to do with skills or creativity. You do it the hard way...I will continue to do it the easy way.
my layout is about 200 pages to print and my mom is a boss at a graphic design agency so i just email it to her and she runs it out on there printers =) lets call it... executive privilege :D all i need is 20 roll of tape to put it together.
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I've always wondered why people print out full size versions of their track plans. When you build a house, you don't use 1:1 blue prints...

Personally, I use Xtrkcad and love it because I can experiment with all kinds of configurations without spending a dime on physical track. I also like the inventory feature that tells you exactly when you'll need to make your plan a reality. I'm not skilled enough to do layers and wiring, but the core layout functionality is great for me.



Im on a Mac, and the only 2 that i have found for Mac OS are Empire Express and one other called Railmodeller It was between these 2, i tried them both out for free, decided i like EE way more so i bought it, best $35 i ever spent :D i love the program and it is very easy to use
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Another vote for Empire Express. I also used TurboCad Mac Pro when doing my last layout and was glad I did. A combo of the two programs helped me find a couple of problems with my train room that I never noticed, and if I hadn't paid attention, would have really messed me up. Having the precision of a cad program, especially when doing room layout, can save you from making mistakes in access and buildability that you'll regret later on.

I have two doorways to bridge, one is the room entrance and the other is a storage space I need access to twice a year to get Christmas decorations in and out of. With the cad programs, and careful build the first time around, everything works perfectly as expected.
Don't know why XTrakCAD wasn't one of the answers, but the price is right, the results seem right (won't know until I start laying track), and it lets me run sample trains to test operation, etc. I tried RTS, but found XTrakCAD when I hit the 50 track trial limit and never looked back. I have used a lot of paper though. I print what I think is the final design and see something I want to change. But, the ease of making those changes, trying different things, etc., are all easier with software than they were with the templates, pencils, erasers, etc., I used 30+ years ago.

It also wouldn't be near as easy to see the differences between (N-Scale) E-Z Track, Atlas, and UniTrack. I'm amazed at how much brand selection affects what kind of a layout you can design. I'm dealing with a lot of limitations due to size/space (10x6 tabletop with detached 6x2 staging yard), so I appreciate being able to "see" how different the design will have to be if I change from E-Z Track to Altas or UniTrack. For example, I can't come close to the staging area design I have now in E-Z Track when I try using Atlas track, mostly because of the difference in the switches.

I haven't tried the UniTrack parameter yet, but my goal is to use flextrack for the straights without having to deal with the differences between ballasted E-Z Track and plain flextrack. I can't seem to find switches comparable to the E-Z Track specs and that completely changes the dynamics of crossovers, spurs, etc., most noticeable in the staging area where there are a lot of switches.

EDIT: I think I figured the switches out and was able to add to my design using the Atlas parameter, so I'll see where that takes me.
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Shark Nose

Rail Traffic Cntrl Addict
I chose Atlas Right Track because I am resurrecting packed away Atlas track that has been dormant for nearly 30 years and wanted to wade back in with some familiar stuff. (And I have a nonexistant budget and wanted to work with what I already have.) Being inside the Atlas Sectional Box for now, I appreciated the simplicity and limits so I didn't hurt my head. :eek:

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