Route Creation Best Practices



My question is in regards to Best Practices when designing a route. I need to know which is better: a route that is "point to point" or a route that is one huge loop. All of the routes that I have purchased or downloaded seemto be "point to point". Are there any issues with creating a route that is a loop other than the sheer size of it?

Thanks in advance.

Fred Bray
What are you interested in?

The answer to that question is the answer to your question.

The main person you are building the route for is you.
Looped routes have a ball of sticky wax associated with them.

The AI generally have issues with loops because they see their own rear and think it's another train. This forces them to run at half speed due to the yellow signals. You'll need to signal this diligently in order to overcome this, and this of course depends upon the size of the loop. Spacing signals becomes an issue if the loop is small and the trains are long.

The AI needs to be guided around carefully because they want to cheat and take the shortest way between two points and will try as they might to go the opposite direction to get there including backing up and going back and trying the incorrect way around the loop. If this is a one-way route, you'll need to put in direction marks set in the direction of the route and not just one or two. You'll need to setup the direction marks periodically. For a longer route that so happens to loop, use track marks to give the AI guide posts or waypoints if you will. You may also want to consider that for smaller loops as well.

This is culled from my experience when I setup a trolley route with dog bone loops on the ends. It took quite a bit of time to get the AI to behave properly.

Thanks for the info. I figured that there were some gotchas with looped routes, just weren't sure what they were.

Thanks again for the info.

Fred Bray
Late to the party but;
I find that I like to have a Point-to-Point route, but have large staging yards at both ends, so I can build trains I want to see go through the route, and choose the next one to go. I heavily use staging yards in most of my routes because 1: I enjoy carefully picking how I want each train to look and then see it in the layout and 2: I primarily use my routes for screenshots. I enjoy taking them as I would in real railfanning.

Loop routes I find to be difficult to work with, mainly because you have nowhere to put new trains (unless you have a shoot-off or a wye leading to a yard (this hints to my heavy usage of staging yards)) plus, with a loop route, eventually you'll go through the same scenery over and over again.

I have seen hybrids though; PTP routes that have areas you can merge back around and go through areas again.

But oknotsen has a point, every route is different and every person is different, thus varying how every route is built. Routes with different purposes will have vastly different means of construction, and knowing the best way to build a route depending on its purpose is a very good skill.
Loop routes are a throwback to model trains in that few people have the space to build a prototypical point to point. They can be made very compact with multiple links in the loop where most of the main action happens in a small space, making it easy to see it all from one place.
If you want to create something that resembles a real route, then point to point is the way to go. Except for some city lines, few prototypical railroads want to run around in circles, they want to go from here to there in along the cheapest path.
But as was said, it's your route so do as you like.
If you can get looped layouts working, great but as stated certainly in the model railway distance constraints it can play havoc with signalling logic and interlocking towers. End to end is therefore better but then you have the problem of positioning everything just so to run round the train and if a steam loco involved turn it as well before returning to the train.

A prototypical circular loop, such as the LUL Circle Line, the old Petite Ceinture in Paris or the Yangon Circle would probably be okay.