Operational Switching Layouts

Here is an L shaped layout for an 8' by 9' corner (if built in HO). It can easily be constructed using two tables, one 18" x  7' (Footnine) and 24" x 8' (Ateton).

The theme for this railroad is an industrial branch of a larger line or a separate short line connected to a larger railroad. The industrial concentration is sufficient to warrant its own switching crew.

Connecting to the outside world is via the staging or interchange tracks. The staging is for cars rather than trains.  Note that the staging tracks have a capacity of 8 or 9 cars whereas the run around track can only handle 6 or 7.

One method to handle this,  lacking an additional foot for Footnine, is to double the run around. The loco pulls one staging track and leaves one or two cars on the lead. It can then run around the other cars and classify them to the yard tracks. Next, it runs around the remaining cars and switches them to the yard.

As an alternate, the staging tracks could hold a train of one loco and 6 or 7 cars. It pulls into the yard and a yard switcher does the classification chores freeing the road engine.

Note that there is only one run around track. It will take two trips to Ateton to switch all the industries: one trip for facing point spurs (Grocery Distributor and Team Tracks) and a second for trailing point tracks (Factory, Propane dealer and Farm Supply). A third switching duty is to service the local industries at Footnine.

To increase switching, the Grocery Distributor has four doors: #1 for frozen foods (refers),  #2 for perishables (refers), #3 dry/canned foods (boxes) and #4 for everything else (boxes). Moreover, the spacing of the doors is just greater than a box car so each car must be individually spotted. This industry only receives commodities. After unloading, the empty cars are cleaned and returned to the yard where they now becomes available for shipments.

Other industries are shippers to balance the use of the freight cars. This increases the on line switching rather than just returning the empties to staging.  The Cold Storage may ship commodities in refers using the empties from the Grocery Distributor. Empty box cars from the Grocery Distributor, Team Tracks and Farm Supply may be recycled for shipments from the Plastics Co.,  bagged flour from the Flour Mill and the Factory. Note that the Cold Storage and Team Tracks can be used for both shipments and deliveries. Warehouses are great to model on layouts like this as they also ship and receive by rail.

How do you handle the empties? If the theme is an industrial branch, home road empties can be held in the yard and used in a later operating session to load outbound shipments. Foreign road rolling stock can be transferred to staging immediately. There is nothing to prevent holding of foreign road equipment for later use on line. It just depends on your own preferences.

So, you see there are many variations in selecting the industries and methods of operating to easily  vary the enjoyment and complexity of the railroad.

Last updated: 11/24/2004