Track Laying Observations

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Track Laying Observations

Post by SamuraiProgrammer » Thu Oct 11, 2007 1:47 am

I have had a hard time laying track that worked. The frustration was so bad, I almost quit playing this game. I bought a copy of the Game Guide off of Ebay and found one paragraph (only one!) that seemed to apply to my problems. From that insight, I have improved my game immensely and now seldom have a tracking problem that is not my fault.

I would like to share what made the difference for me in the hopes that it will help others.

If anyone thinks I am wrong about any of this, please say so. I am doing this to learn as well as share my methods.

Some notes...

Any time I mention depot or station, I mean any of depot, station, or terminal.

Any time I mention a green circle, I mean the small green circle that is as big as the track is wide. I do not mean the big green circle that shows where a depot can be placed.

Laying track....

There are two ways to lay track. One is to click, hold, and drag; letting go when you have what you want. The other is to click, release, and click again when you have what you want.

ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS do it the second way. Things work much better.

When you do it the first way, you almost always get a 'end of track' sign in the middle of your tracks. The trains still run most of the time (imagine that), but sometimes they wouldn't. Now since there are silly signs all over the place, you are probably ignoring them.

When you do it the second way, you seldom get the 'end of track' signs in the middle of your track after you have laid it. If you do, now you should consider pulling up the track and doing it again. Something is likely wrong.

Extending track....

Position the mouse so there is a green circle, click, release, position the new track where you want it, and click. This will create new track without a signal tower.

Forking track....

Whether it is your intention or not, starting to lay track from a yellow circle will create a fork. One leg of the fork may be very short and not intended to be used, but it will be there. This will also create a signal tower.

Joining track...

Always try to join track at a green circle. If you need to join track to the middle of existing track, start from the existing track (with a yellow circle) and go to the end of the existing track (with a green circle). I believe (though I am not sure) that this helps prevent mismatched track.


Just Don't Do It. I have never been able to get crossovers to work like I want. The trains consistently bunch up on the same track and just don't behave the way I want. I have followed the advice of always making the turns in one direction, but still have some problems. If you must make a crossover, you can usually make a siding instead and solve the same problems.


Lay double track along the area you want to for trains to be able to pass each other. Make sure the double track is at least as long as the longest train that will run on this track. Then connect the main line to the siding ends (Yellow to Green). (Do not connect the sidings to the main line (Green to Yellow)... I am not sure that matters, but I believe I have had more success connecting the main line to the siding)

DO NOT place an additional siding on a siding. When I have tried this, I have caused more problems than solutions. I am not sure about this as I may still be doing something wrong. (See the section on practice below.)


When making a join involving a bridge, ALWAYS start with the bridge (yellow circle) and go to a piece of track (green circle). Doing it the other way is asking for problems. The tracks do not seem to match correctly if you do it that way.

If you need to make a join between two bridges, DON'T. I can't get this to work.

Signal Towers...

Signal Towers do matter IF you are playing on the higher difficulties of routing. I don't think thier import changes due to general difficulty (Mogul, Tycoon, etc.)

Signal towers are how trains decide whether to go ahead into the next section of track. They can see from the signal tower in front of them to the next signal tower, but no further. Normally, if you follow a track with no branches from one depot to the next, you will find the following: depot, signal, signal, depot. Another way of saying that is that depots usually have a signal at each end. There will also be signals at forks.

If you have a section of track with an extra signal tower in it, trains will go ahead into that section of track, even if there is a train blocking them further down the line. I don't know how to fix this once it happens unless you can delete the track in question and build from green circle to green circle.

If you have a section of track that does not have a signal tower (for example the track goes from one depot to a signal tower to another depot without a second signal tower, then a train leaving the first depot will wait for a train leaving the second depot (heading away) to clear the depot completely before beginning. This will happen even if the track is many times longer than the train. To fix this, create small fork going nowhere near the station without a signal. A signal will be created and the train will approach the station before the next train clears the station.

Parallel Track With The Same Path

Sometimes when you have two parallel tracks that go between the same two stations, the trains will insist on starting on the same track. To prevent this, try to create the second train while the first train is in the station where the second train is starting. This seems to work every time unless there is a problem with my track somewhere that makes the second track invalid.

Jumping Tracks

Occasionally, you will want to change the consist / origin / destination of a train when it is important which of paralell tracks are chosen. Try to time this in the same way as above because if you change the waypoints the game will sometimes jump the train to its new first waypoint and may choose the wrong track if it is not occupied.


Set up a game in train table mode with no opponents and build a single track that covers a very long path with a station at both ends.

Put a train on it going from station to station.

Ad a siding to it. Do not make the siding the entire length of the track, but rather make it long enough to hold a decent sized train.

Put another train on the track going from station to station.

Put the game on fast speed and watch the trains. See how they behave.

Notice that you have two places a train can exist: the main line and the siding.

Now add another siding further down the track. Notice that you have three places a train can exist: the main line, and two sidings.

Put another train on the track going from station to station.

Watch them and see how they behave.

Now add another siding on the other side of the main track in the same area as one of the sidings.

Add a train. Watch.

Keep adding sidings and see how many trains you can have going at one time.

You may not build your rails this way when competing, but it should give you insight on how to fix problems when they occur.

Investing 15 minutes in this excercise helped me realize a lot about how the trains will behave.

I hope this was helpful. Thanks for reading.

And MOST OF ALL, thanks to the great people playing multiplayer. There are not that many, but almost all of them are great folks.

Samurai Programmer


Post by keotaman » Thu Oct 11, 2007 6:40 am

Hell of a first post there, SP! LOL

Generally, I agree with your observations.
Joining track - go either way, just be careful ... watch what is happening.
Crossovers - Can't agree here, crossovers allow many trains to use few tracks, important in the game. Just learn to use them well. Different methods depending on 2, 3 or 4 track mainlines, junctions.
Sidings - either way works fine.
The Bridges - Going from track to bridge often ends up on the landscape underneath the bridge, rather than the bridge -- close observation will allow you to see this happening, but an easy way to avoid trouble is as you say: start with the bridge and go to a piece of track, yellow OR green circle at either end.

Checkout the Wiki, too. Advanced Track Laying, under Advanced Information and Strategies, may interest you. ... s%21:Track
Especially look at ragged ends, under Switches, and Depots Blacked-out.

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Post by Kroguys » Thu Oct 11, 2007 8:58 am

I always use the yellow and green arrows as indicators for lying tracks. Just like the tutorial says. :)

Bridge to bridge connections are rare, but not hard to do. You just need to use the '+' and '-' keys on the right side of the keyboard to align the track with the bridges.

To add a signal on the track, all you need to do is double click at the spot where you want the signal. No need to make a fork. But click slow so there is no chance for the track to go crazy.
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Post by snoopy55 » Thu Oct 11, 2007 10:45 am

With graphics added, a few more edits from others and more observations about the subject, this could become a very useful source of learning. I've been at this for almost a year and I learned a bit from this and reading the Wiki (yes, I still have to read that). Something that is needed is screenshots. Also, if any of you are going to do screenshots, do Saves right after them. The Saves can be Zipped with the shots and if any editing of them needs to be done, something can be added or further use can be made of them, they are there.

This can be set up as a 'Learning Download' and many can benifit from it.

Great work!! For a first post, this is very impresive! Welcome to the forum and I hope we can hear more like this from you.

I'm correct 97% of the time..... who cares about the other 4%....

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Post by SamuraiProgrammer » Thu Oct 11, 2007 2:09 pm

Thanks for the kind words.

Yes, I have read the wiki several times. I would not have gotten this far without it.

There was some confusion, though. I never quite understood what I was looking for when looking at the 'end of track' signs to tell if everything was going to be ok.

Also, could someone tell me how to know (after using the plus and minus keys) that you are at the right vertical spot.

Also, is it true to say that if you have a yellow circle at a new track juncture that it will create a signal?


Post by keotaman » Fri Oct 12, 2007 7:01 pm

snoopy55 wrote: ... Also, if any of you are going to do screenshots, do Saves right after them. The Saves can be Zipped with the shots and if any editing of them needs to be done, something can be added or further use can be made of them, they are there. ...
I'm not sure I follow you: Screenshots in postings or screenshots in the Wiki? Save the game that the screenshot came from?

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Post by SamuraiProgrammer » Fri Oct 12, 2007 9:29 pm


I think the point is that if you decide the screenshot needs to be different (different resolution, different zoom, different angle, or whatever) and you have a savegame right at the point where you made the screenshot, it will be very easy to get another shot.

This sounds like the voice of experience speaking.

So snoopy, how many times have you done the same setup to get another shot? ;)

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Post by snoopy55 » Fri Oct 12, 2007 10:02 pm

walks out onto the stage, dusts off his soapbox, steps up on it and clears his throat...

I thank-you for the pat on the head, but I haven't done it myself.

BUT, as I spoke of this going into Wiki, and Wiki has the ability to be edited for better possible content,

If Jimmy does a posy on how to do a certain way to lay a track and does a screen shot, and Bill looks at it and has a further idea involving that particular map in that arrangement, he can't do it if he doesn't have access to the map.

If Sam states that it may be possible to run a switch off a bridge in the screen shot as shown, but he doesn't know how, Rick, who knows, may have a better way to show everyone if he has a saved map to do it from.

What I spoke of in my post was putting pages of information into posts which can be edited by others which will SHOW how to do things rather than TELL. Words leave the reader saying "Exactly how did he do that?" A picture shows how it was done, but can leave someone else asking, "could this be done?" or "He forgot to show how you can go off in this way to do this...". A saved map at certain points allows anyone to open the map and attempt it himself. It allows him to further explain how it was done. And if people are not quite sure waht was done and how it was done, a video could be made and posted by someone who does.

And when (or as) it's all done, it can be posted on Wiki and used by present and future players to learn from.

steps down from his soapbox, picks it up and walks off the stage....

I'm correct 97% of the time..... who cares about the other 4%....

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Post by Star Ranger4 » Thu Oct 18, 2007 3:49 am

Now sorry for being a wise acre here Snoopy, but that soapbox oratory pretty much can be distilled down to "Yes, screen shots AND saved games would both be helpfull for this project"?

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Post by Dr Frag » Thu Oct 18, 2007 6:48 am

But you gotta admit he did warn you. :wink:

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Post by snoopy55 » Thu Oct 18, 2007 8:09 am

Now sorry for being such a wise acre here Star Ranger4, but if I expect everyone to understand just the basics, I'm gonna have those who will ask "Whadja mean by dat??"

And don't knock my soapbox til you've stood on one of your own....... Got your attention didn't it?? :wink:

I'm correct 97% of the time..... who cares about the other 4%....

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Re: Track Laying Observations

Post by Char » Sun May 13, 2012 4:47 pm

I hear the pain. After several hours testing the interface, I decided (temporarily..haven't fully tested) all paarallel new track MUST be joined by clicking on the signal FIRST. Otherwise, strange things occur..including multiple signals and tiny gaps between them. If done properly, the game will treat the 2 tracks as seperate, even though they apparently become one as the join. Trains will pass through each other near the join, but since the join point exists at the signal..they are really 2 seperate tracks.

ps i hope that's right, i love this game..can set ai to NONE :)

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Re: Track Laying Observations

Post by Didz » Mon Apr 22, 2013 8:00 pm

First time poster here:

Having played the original Railroad Tycoon over a decade ago, I must admit I miss the track laying aspect of the game.

Railroads is closer than some of the more recent versions of the game, but one thing I'm finding frustrating is the apparent random placement of the signal towers, which often cause conflicts rather than avoid them.

Is there anyway to have the game let you choose where you want the signals like the old days?
Last edited by Didz on Mon May 06, 2013 12:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Track Laying Observations

Post by karsten » Mon Apr 22, 2013 8:13 pm

As mentioned further up, a double click will place a signal. But as also mentioned above, click fairly slowly, otherwise you will get a (free :D ) piece of track snaking all over the map. :shock:

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Re: Track Laying Observations

Post by CalmDragon » Tue Apr 23, 2013 10:26 pm

I have to frown now and then when the track decides it needs 15 signals in a very short span. That division never seems right to me. Bugs me to the point where I divert or delete trains away from that section as I delete each little section and extra signal until I am down to one again.
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