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Looking for feedback from the Forum on proposed Tri-State City Layout.

12 1/2' X 9' Space

Duck under Will try to fit in a Lionel lift out bridge on bottom right of layout

Small 2 loop NYC Layout with switching. Looking to run postwar trains (passenger & freight) that would have been seen in NYC (NH, PRR/NYC, LIRR, B&O, etc.) Would also like to run more modern 0-31/0-36 TMCC/Legacy equipment on occasion.

18' of staging track for 2 small train sets, could also be used as a yard that I could switch while running a train on the inside loop.

Potential for 10 industries/switching opportunities if I don't want to just watch trains run

I like the right side of the layout with the small elevated station/city platform, butterflies along with the 18' of staging track. Struggling with the industries and would love ideas for how to place the track and maybe what kind of industries. Also not sure if on the left I should remove one of the industry tracks or leave all four together.

I have attached the AnyRail file


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Last edited by Fireball RR
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@Fireball RR  Can't open your file as I only have SCARM. A PDF would be a nice alternative at least to see what you are thinking.  Your space is almost identical to mine.  I had to resort to using hinged bridges (the MTH) and lift outs.  Of course I can dive under in case of emergencies and the grandkids have no problems in ducking under. More details under TPRR.


@ScoutingDad Was planning on operating from the middle of the layout as the door to the room and closet doors will be fairly close to the layout on the outside. It's just not an optimal space but giving it a go.

Going to keep it simple and use Fastrack with O-36 track on the outer and inner loops allowing me to run Postwar and some smaller scale O-31/36 locos. Biggest loco will probably be a Trainmaster.

Can you provide feedback on the sidings? Are there too many? Is the orientation OK or should I look to make changes there?

Thank you for your help   

I have mostly post war and smaller new stuff but recently started upgrading my layout where I can from O36 to O48. Everything looks so much better so I would say try for wider radius curves if you make it work.

Also, coming from someone with no sidings I would say you can never have too many. You'll appreciate the train staging and storage.

I am working on a circle/oval/loop (or whatever you like calling it) double main line with one side against wall layout,  that I have switched from operating from middle to outside and back and forth at least twice. The middle seems ideal but locks you into a spot. When operating multiple trains, the lift up or drop in access bridges are great, but I am getting older and slower to pass thru them and then pass back out, without stopping the trains.

It could be different for everyone, but for me, the operating spot is best outside the loop. Just my opinion, and it changes periodically.

@Fireball RR  I agree with Catdaddy on operating outside the loop if possible. I tried sitting in the center of mine but I found myself spinning around watching the engines run in circles. I felt like I was getting dizzy with all the spinning. Fortunately I did have an aisleway to sit or stand in and operate everything. Jetsafl is also correct about the sidings - more is better.  If you can, consider making them thru sidings so you do not have to back in/out. I really dislike having to take most everything off the rails in order to put something new on. While your space is tight, you could add a lower staging yard in order not to overload the upper level. You will probably need a 4% to 5% grade to access the lower level, but given you are running shorter trains you should be able to get away with it. 

One of the ways to do this in a short space is to have one track descend and the other rise to meet in the middle. You would need about 12 feet to get a 7 inch vertical change at 5% grade. This doubles if you were trying to use 2.5% due to the larger engines. Because you are using max 036 curves you should be able to lay in these track at the back of the layout using up a foot or so. Buildings or scenery could cover this space if you don't want to see it. This approach means you should use the open grid or cookie cutter method of layout construction. (See Linn Westcott's book How to Build Model Railroad Benchwork - it will save a lot of headaches later on. Under $5 used)   

Since you have no way to reverse the direction of trains, based on the location of your "storage tracks," you should run all of your trains clock-wise.  In addition, all of your industrial sidings should be started with "trailing point" switches.  That means, for delivery, your train can stop before entering the switch, uncouple the car(s) from the train to be delivered, move forward so that engines and cars clear the switch, and finally back the cars into the industry.  As your plan stands now, you only have one industry where the switch is not "trailing point," so maybe leaving that alone will provide some variation in operation for you.

Finally, have you considered making the mainline entrance from your storage yard into a wye?  That would allow trains leaving storage to travel in either direction on your mainline.  Also, look closely at your entrance to the center of the layout.  You really don't want only part of a switch on a bridge that will be moving.


Last edited by PRR1950

Appreciate all the feedback above. I was playing around last night with just doing an O-72 curved layout with the less is more mentality. It would only be a single mainline with one passing loop and four sidings for industry but it left a lot more room for buildings, scenery and overall spacious feel compared to what I previously posted.

Since I will be running legacy/DCS I could run the trains from the outside of the table. I could still have two long storage tracks and run a passenger and local freight. I love the wye idea but don't think it will fit with O-72 but would love to hear ideas if everyone things it could work. I will say this is daunting with such a small space with the goal of whatever I build being able to keep me busy having fun for 4-5 years until we are ready to look for a house with a larger space for the trains. I'll post the new layout today for review once I clean it up.

036 crossovers between mainlines make a pretty serious S-curve, which may cause problems. Even if you're not using 072 curves, you should use 072 switches for your crossovers for smoother transitions. Numbered switches are even better as they eliminate the S-curve, but Fastrack tops out at 072.

Here's my 9x12 Fastrack layout (almost the same space as yours). Two mainlines with reversing options, outer 060 inner 048, 5 sidings each capable of storing 2-3 scale freight cars, and an Atlas 24" TT with 4 whisker tracks. It features the lift-out extended truss bridge for access to the center or I can duck under it. I also have 3x 100" storage sidings on a shelf behind the layout.

The lift-out bridge is at its lowest setting (about 3" above the tabletop) and I'm using WS 2% incline sets for the grades up to the bridge. Light green track sections are grades.

Note that this is in my garage where I have access from the front (where the bridge is) and oth sides. If you were trying to fit this into a 9x12 room, you may have some access issues.


Images (1)
  • mceclip1

@Mike0289 That is a really cool layout, you got a lot in and still have room for scenery and structures, well done! Any chance you would be willing to share the file with me so I can see the track pieces and determine if a variation of this would fit in the space I have? I would probably remove the three storage tracks and use the spur to the turntable as another spur with some additional space for structures so it wouldn't be a duplicate of what you have created. Appreciate the consideration and thank you for posting this layout for the group to view today.

@Fireball RR happy to share the source file - see attached. It's created in RailModeller Pro which is an analogue of Scarm/Anyrail for macOS.

If that doesn't work for you, I might be able to generate another image with track sections labeled with their part numbers so it's easier for you to recreate in your preferred SW. I do also have AnyRail on my PC - if it would be helpful, I can try to find some time to recreate this plan there and share it. Let me know.


Entire layout is Fastrack except for the TT. Outer loop has all 060 curves and inner loop has all 048 curves. Crossover switches are 072 and there are 3x 072 wyes in the sidings, but the rest are 060 or 048. No custom cut pieces.

Here's an exported image with a lot of the visual noise removed so you can see the labels more clearly.

You shouldn't actually need to buy any  1 3/8" sections w/o roadbed (6-12074) - they're just filler for the ones that come with the 060/072 switches (which RailModeller Pro doesn't include when you add a switch to your design). I use these in my designs so I know how many  true 1 3/8" sections (6-12073) I need.

Length of the sidings may not exactly match what I have on the table, but should be pretty close


Images (1)
  • mceclip0

That was a huge help Mike, thank you for sharing the part numbers. I played around with a few things to try and extend the mainline and sneak in more yard tracks. The turnout to the left of the yard could maybe house a work train?

Now the next step is to figure out how to make this into a believable small city layout. The layout is now 12X11 so it won't fit in the original room but maybe like you I can take a look at the garage. I love the bridge access and the mainline run between the two lines is around 100' which is amazing. Thank you very much for sharing your layout today. I have attached a PDF and the AnyRail file. Would continue to ask for feedback from the group on the updated plan.


Files (2)

Nice! Happy to help

One thing I wish I had space for (and something you may have space for now) is replacing the two separate switch pairs for switching between mainlines with a double crossover composed of 4 060 or 072 switches and a 45 deg crossing. This would let you combine both mainlines into a single, much longer, continuous run without any manual switching required. It'll push your two mainlines further apart on that top side (IIRC 6" to 8.5" or 9"), but IMO that's a small price to pay for the flexibility if you have the space for it!

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