I was wondering, given a large space 20x20 or larger, how many manlines would be okay and how much would be too much? I know that usually you have two tracks(being East & West or North & South), and maybe extra sidings for trains waiting for others as well as spurs off the main. I need an idea of what to try to work with(as an example).

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I think the answer really depends on your outlook towards layouts. Are you interested in having a lot of buildings, structures, working accessories and industries that will take up a lot of space an require a lot of sidings, in which case (assuming an around-the-room layout with some type of liftout or gate), you might only have 2-3 mainlines. Or are you more interested in having a busy layout with a lot of trains running around and not so much interest in buildings, structures, working accessories and industries, in which case you might want to squeeze 4-5 mainlines in.

Yeah, that's the thing. My initial builds in software I have always started off with having two mainlines running outside and trying to make yards and such off of it. My idea last night(in my head) was having the two main railroads(NYC & PRR) have the main outside lines as well as having smaller spurs running independent of that. The other to railroads(N&W & B&O) would have an elevated mountain run going next two each other with splits(to separate them to make spurs or such) so they go different routes for some time. That would be similar to the lower mainline in that regard.

My thought today was connecting these all together through a yard. Of course with as many failures in the drawing board its hard to get a good sense of what looks like its a workable plan. I usually would hand draw my ideas and then work from there. I do want some sort of buildings, but figured on having some decent independent running so as not to have crashes.

With 20-feet by 20-feet, I think the layout would look better and be more interesting with two levels of track, rather than one, and they could be made to be a different railroad on each level - and not necessarily connected. I would not do more than two mainline tracks on the lower level and only one or two on the upper level. That would leave you enough room for convincing scenery (hills, valleys, tunnels, rivers, bridges, a town or industry) and one spur on each level. Don't let the layout get overwhelmed by too much track. The real world has lots of things other than railroad tracks. Just my opinion.

I see that you are a New York Central fan so I can understand why you might consider a four track mainline on just one level. If you do one level, what about two or three tracks and a compressed Harmon Yard. Also, don't forget the Hudson River. A riverbank and some water with track running alongside would look realistic.


Well my new layout will be in a 20x20 mostly square shape and I'm limiting it to 4 feet in width so I can reach everything on both sides.  I will have 2 mainlines with 1 being elevated (but connected).  I will have a third, branch line which services a small town, yard and industries and connects to one of the mains but only runs over 3 of the 4 sides of the layout.     While 20x20 seems like a large space it's really not when you start adding things and want to keep mainline curves at O72 (or larger).  I agree with what Melgar and Richie posted and personally feel you can easily go overboard on track.  In the end it all comes down to what YOU want and prefer so do what makes you happy.  Besides, it will give us something to give you grief over at breakfast in York.


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I'm still trying to figure that out. Some of my other ideas always have been the big surface area, and that is one of the things that breaks my concentration building. I have proposed some dogbones and have had some success with those. So, that more or less would be what I would like to do.

The current design I was working on after posting this I fell into the big surface area without even realizing it. I know that may sound strange, but I had laid out(in the design program) a small panel the length of one distance but width was small. The second surface I put in was raised and that's when my brain got stuck(because I saw a large surface area once again).

I think one of the key things I need to do is start at the bottom layer and work from there. That and stop thinking giant oval.

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