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Single Or Double Track For My New Layout

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Single Or Double Track For My New Layout
Posted by caldreamer on Monday, January 07, 2019 9:45 PM

Before we get our new house I will be designing my new layout.  It will located in the basement which is a requirment for any house that we purchase. I will be runnIng a DCC system and will have to decide if I want to have single track with sidings, double track or double track with sidings. Any suggestions or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks In Advance

       Caldreamer

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Posted by Outsailing86 on Monday, January 07, 2019 9:57 PM

Single track with sidings, but what’s your prototype? 

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Posted by cowman on Monday, January 07, 2019 10:37 PM

What type of running do you want to do?  Do you want to just let trains run around while you railfan or do you want to do a lot of switching, somewhere in between?  Single track with some sidings for looks, if you just want to run trains with the possibility of some operations, double track with sidings would give you the most operational possibilities.

Your prototype, era and personal desires all factor in.

Good luck,

Richard

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Posted by OldEngineman on Monday, January 07, 2019 10:48 PM

You might do it like actual railroads do: double track in congested areas, single track in the "more open spaces"...

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Posted by G Paine on Monday, January 07, 2019 10:52 PM

Do you have a prototype that you are modeling? If so, what was their practice?

Otherwise, it depends on the type of railroad you are modeling. If you are thinking of modeling a main line on a large railroad, probably double track would be the way to go. If a smaller railroad with less traffic, they would not be making the capital investment in double track, so single track with passing sidings would be the thing; with maybe some double track in cities, towns, and terminal areas to ease congestion there.

George In Midcoast Maine, 'bout halfway up the Rockland branch 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, January 08, 2019 5:33 AM

This is what I have learned:

.

Single track works great with operations sessions and club layouts. It is definitely much more fun than the simple operation of an East/West double track mainline.

.

Double track is best for a lone operator that wants to do switching while another train runs. The chances of train interference (collision) are reduced with double track main.

.

That is my two cents.

.

-Kevin

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Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, January 08, 2019 5:42 AM

SeeYou190

Single track works great with operations sessions and club layouts. It is definitely much more fun than the simple operation of an East/West double track mainline.

Double track is best for a lone operator that wants to do switching while another train runs. The chances of train interference (collision) are reduced with double track main..

Can't speak to operating sessions and club layouts because I don't do either. But, I totally agree with Kevin on a preference for double track mainlining for a lone wolf operator like me who also likes to do switching.

Rich

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, January 08, 2019 5:56 AM

The virtues of double track on model layouts:

Our distances are always too short, double track allows longer trains to look more realistic.

Double track provides better display operation when that is desired.

Depending or your prototype, era, goals and taste, it can capture the "big time railroading" feel more so than single track.

Continious double track with hidden thru staging provides the most action with the fewest operators and can often be well operated by one person or a large crew.

Sheldon

 

    

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, January 08, 2019 5:59 AM

cowman
What type of running do you want to do?  Do you want to just let trains run around while you railfan or do you want to do a lot of switching, somewhere in between?  Single track with some sidings for looks, if you just want to run trains with the possibility of some operations, double track with sidings would give you the most operational possibilities.

Your prototype, era and personal desires all factor in.

Good luck,

Richard

Yep, we can't decide for caldreamer.  It's your RR, you decide.

For me, I am planning to loosely model the D&RGW lines west of Grande Junction CO and into Utah, which is single track with sidings.

I have a fairly limited space for a layout that will be 12.5 x 33 feet.  Follow the link below and scroll to the bottom to see rought draft plan I have drawn up for the space which I am currently drywalling and finishing.

http://atlasrescueforum.proboards.com/thread/3737/jims-layout-progress?page=3

 

SeeYou190
Double track is best for a lone operator that wants to do switching while another train runs. The chances of train interference (collision) are reduced with double track main.

I expect I will be a loan operator most of the time but don't expect to be letting trains run "unattended" while I switch the yard or some customers.

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Posted by kasskaboose on Tuesday, January 08, 2019 6:47 AM

The decision on single or double track is yours.  You can base that call on the prototype.  Mine replicates a part of the N&W that has a single track.  I ensure the loco won't tumble off the layout by masking the end of the track. This gives the impression of the layout going on well-beyond the layout.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, January 08, 2019 6:56 AM

riogrande5761

 

 
cowman
What type of running do you want to do?  Do you want to just let trains run around while you railfan or do you want to do a lot of switching, somewhere in between?  Single track with some sidings for looks, if you just want to run trains with the possibility of some operations, double track with sidings would give you the most operational possibilities.

Your prototype, era and personal desires all factor in.

Good luck,

Richard

 

Yep, we can't decide for caldreamer.  It's your RR, you decide.

For me, I am planning to loosely model the D&RGW lines west of Grande Junction CO and into Utah, which is single track with sidings.

I have a fairly limited space for a layout that will be 12.5 x 33 feet.  Follow the link below and scroll to the bottom to see rought draft plan I have drawn up for the space which I am currently drywalling and finishing.

http://atlasrescueforum.proboards.com/thread/3737/jims-layout-progress?page=3

 

 

 
SeeYou190
Double track is best for a lone operator that wants to do switching while another train runs. The chances of train interference (collision) are reduced with double track main.

 

I expect I will be a loan operator most of the time but don't expect to be letting trains run "unattended" while I switch the yard or some customers.

 

Jim,

Since I understand your prototype and can assume some of your operational goals, I think you have done a nice job with your track plan in the space you have. I'm sure it will serve you well.

Your track plan does however clearly illustrate many of my points.

Your actual single track areas appear to only be about as long as your siding/yard tracks. And your train lengths are limited by all of that. A fact that is even more limited by longer, more modern equipment.

Additionally, while I'm sure it is comfortable for you, your aisle widths would not be workable for me.

Again, I think you have a fine plan, as I have done some track planning for other modelers. It simply illustrates how different goals will have highly different acceptable solutions.

Hopefully I will have my new track plan ready to publish is a week or two.

A completely different approach - double track around the room with two penisulas, a lift out to enter and 4' to 5' aisles.   

In my case the the basement need not serve any other purpose, so the lift out right inside the door is not an issue.

The OP would be well advised, as other have suggested, to define some of his other goals and interests before deciding on single or double track.

Sheldon  

    

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Posted by mbinsewi on Tuesday, January 08, 2019 7:07 AM

If I would have used all the basement space I had availiable,  it would have been double track, hands down.  I love running trains, and big time main line running.

But, I decided to build a much smaller layout, that I could manage, and finish, (not that it's completely finished, as I don't think no model railroad is ever finished) relativily quick,  and went with single track with a siding and switching industries.

At my age, I just didn't want to get trapped with a huge layout that never gets to the "almost" full scenery stage.

It's completely up to the OP.  You could even start out with a single track with sidings, but have the R.O.W. finished for a double track, and connect the sidings to create the double track as you go.

Mike.

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Posted by zstripe on Tuesday, January 08, 2019 8:08 AM

Whether My prototype used double track main line or not......I would and still do have all double track mainline. There are many possibilities for operation. There is also no need for any passing sidings. Use the mains for that, with crossovers. I have 8 spread out for East/West running. Both mains on each side have industry sidings that can be worked. North/South of mains. They do not run right at the layout edge.......they are minimum of 2ft in at some places to allow for industry and can still be reached within arms length without knocking into anything. Layout is set for 3-cab DC.....but can be switched over to DCC by just changing power supplys. You then can give everyone a train to run, if you choose. If You have the room....go for it.

It now has been cut down into a smaller layout..........was built in sections to be able to do that. Original was a elogated dog bone (no reverse loops) 12 1/2 X 42 X 12 1/2........cut down to 6 1/2x 25x 6 1/2. Was just too big for one person at 77yrs. old. I may even take that down and give to the Grandkids also. I lost interest in it.........have not completely made up My mind yet. I am a disabled vet and it's just getting harder for Me to get around......but I had My fun with it.....

Take Care! Big Smile

Frank

 

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Posted by dknelson on Tuesday, January 08, 2019 10:16 AM

I have double track (on a point to point layout) because that is what my prototype had.  It was primarily a high speed passenger train line (Route of the 400s) that saw some freights and local freight service as well (the C&NW had a parallel single track all-freight main just a few miles away that had the lion's share of the manifest freight traffic).  By the time I model the volume of trains no longer warranted double track (it was single tracked soon after Amtrak removed the passenger trains) but there they were and had been since the 19th century.  It was a block signal operation, but it was fairly rare to see the block signals actually stop or slow a train.  

The virtues: simplifies operations as there are no meaningful meets or passes to worry about -- in some guys' minds that takes away the fun!  Double track creates some entertaining challenges for crossover tracks.  Curves would be an issue for two parallel main lines but I use very wide curves so the distance between tracks is the same for curves and tangents.

The downside: well, for sure it takes up valuable space which means that sidings and trackside industries and structures are more cramped.  Structures that could be complete otherwise will need to be flats.  Optically it also makes selective compression and forced perspective more of a challenge because so much space is taken up with not compressed, full HO scale sized trains. 

Neutral:  some guys would and do use double track to run more trains to keep more operators happy.  In reality it was rare to see trains on both mains at the same time.   Long periods of time elapsed with no trains at all particularly as more passenger trains were discontinued.  My operating crews will be either bored or small, or both.

Dave Nelson

 

 

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Posted by caldreamer on Wednesday, January 09, 2019 8:17 PM

I model the BNSF.  The Gateway Sub is the one that I know best.  It is double track except for two small sections of single track.  I can set up my system to stop one of the trains when there are two approaching the single track sections and allow the other to pass the stopped train and when clear, throw the switch to allow the stopped train to proceed..

   Caldreamer

   

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Posted by NWP SWP on Wednesday, January 09, 2019 8:34 PM

My club layout is single track with sidings, the problem has become that during ops there are bottle necks at just about the middle of the railroad, specifically at Pleasant Hill, Robeline, Boyce, and Rapides.

Theoretically this bottle neck would be solved by double tracking this segment of railroad from Mansfield to Bunkie, if it was my decision I'd do it but it's not, anyways my point is if ops is what you're after then try doing a simulated op session with single track and sidings, anywhere you start getting bottlenecks and traffic backups double track, or don't if you like an operational challenge...

Just my .My 2 Cents

That's $0.002... AmericanLaugh

Steven

Crooner, Imagineer, High School Graduate, living with Aspergers, President of the Republica Pacifica micronation,  President of the NWP-SWP System.

Hook'em Longhorns! 

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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, January 09, 2019 11:29 PM

NWP SWP
Just my . That's $0.002... American

One too many zeros Steven! Your opinion is worth more than 2/10ths of a cent!LaughLaughLaughLaugh

Actually, when it comes to opinions, AFAIC '2 cents' American is equal to '2 cents' Canadian. I wish the real Canadian dollar was still on par.Crying

To answer the OP's question, I'm partial to having passing sidings as opposed to double track all the way round. It makes things more interesting than having all double track, but it also avoids undue blockages.

The passing sidings themselves can be put to use in other ways. Perfect place to put a small passenger station.

Dave

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Posted by Water Level Route on Thursday, January 10, 2019 5:42 AM

In his book "Track Planning for Realistic Operation", John Armstrong advises at one point that for a smaller model railroad, a double track main is a superior choice.  Don't have the book with me right now to look up his justification, but if you have access to it, it is worth a read through, even if you only look to specifically answer this question.

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Posted by Onewolf on Thursday, January 10, 2019 6:14 AM

I will pile on with most everyone else:  John Armstrong's "Track Planning for Realistic Operation" is an incredibly valuable tool for overall and detail level planning for a new layout.

For my own layout, some of my requirements were: Union Pacific, mid 50s, and single track mainline. This is how I ended up modeling the Ogden -> Oregon Short Line -> Cache Valley Branch area.

 

Modeling an HO gauge freelance version of the Union Pacific Oregon Short Line and the Utah Railway around 1957 in a world where Pirates from the Great Salt Lake founded Ogden, UT.

- Photo album of layout construction -

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, January 10, 2019 6:27 AM

Onewolf

I will pile on with most everyone else:  John Armstrong's "Track Planning for Realistic Operation" is an incredibly valuable tool for overall and detail level planning for a new layout.

Yes yes.  Get a copy of John Armstrongs "Track Planning for Realistic Operation".

I've read it over and over and it really helped me in my track planning process.  My favorite chapter is the one on Minimum standards.  The only part of his track planning process which my brain didn't gel with was his idea of "squares" which I had to toss out, but everything else is very valuable.  Any beginner wanting to design their own track plan should get that book!

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by caldreamer on Thursday, January 10, 2019 8:07 AM

I have tje book, and have read it overmany times.  How can you switch cars, pull and drip cars into industries without having two trains collide whie you are working with single track?  It is inevidable.  i can gurantee you that MURPHY get up and bite you and you will have engines and crs scattered all over the layout.  Jim Reising's Oakville sub is double track with no industries, he likes to just watch trains run.  That is fine if that what you like.  I like to switch cars, etc.  My new layout will have the same operating layout design that I have on my current layout,   I like to switch cars as well as run trains.

    Cal;dreamer

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Posted by mbinsewi on Thursday, January 10, 2019 8:20 AM

caldreamer
How can you switch cars, pull and drip cars into industries without having two trains collide whie you are working with single track?

I guess you have just answered your own question.

I run a train on a single track main,  and switch cars at the same time, because the siding track I have is also the access to the industries I need to switch.  I can use the siding as part of the switching opetations, for staging cars, while I work.

But as I said, you have answered your own quesstion, so for you, double track it is!

Mike.

 

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Posted by Onewolf on Thursday, January 10, 2019 11:32 AM

I was thinking the same thing: He answered his own question.  :)

My layout also has double ended sidings that provide access to industry service spurs to keep the switching off the mainline.

Modeling an HO gauge freelance version of the Union Pacific Oregon Short Line and the Utah Railway around 1957 in a world where Pirates from the Great Salt Lake founded Ogden, UT.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, January 10, 2019 11:36 AM

/ put a fork in it as far as the layout format goes.

Here is the thing about letting trains run; on some layouts you can probably do that, but if you have a layout with more than one level, and a helix, and like to run 20-30 car trains, then letting a train run and run and run, unattended ...  well it doesn't seem like a good idea.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by eaglescout on Thursday, January 10, 2019 12:43 PM

Faced the same situation when I built my last layout and am considering again as I just moved also.  Single mainline may be more realistic but we are talking a much compressed layout from the prototype and it is up to you what you enjoy.  I like running two trains simultaneously in opposite directions at times.  Other times I can run one and do switching with the other and any other combinations I want.  So double mainline it will be for me on my new layout.

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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, January 10, 2019 12:47 PM

 To better understand the squares concept, you can simplify it such that a 'square' is the space needed for a quarter turn of your desired minimum radius. It's slightly over, because radius is measure to the center line of the track, so you need to allow for both the actual width of the ties AND to also not have track right at the very edge, but the idea is that the square is the size to fit the quarter turn - WITH consideration for not putting the track right on the edge. That's really it - all the rest follwos from the rest of Armstrong's discussion on standards. The smaller the radius, the smaller the turnouts - it's frankly pointless to use a #6 when all your curves are 18" radius. ANd it's pointless to put #4s on a mainline when the radius is 30".  Industrial areas where mainline locos don;t roam, that's different. Bt given the square is designed for the mainline radius, anything smaller will obviously fit within the same 'square'. And the whole purpose is to allow doodling without any drafting tools or, in this day and age, CAD software. It doesn;t matter if you draw your squares ont he back of a napkin and they aren;t precisioely the same width, you know it takes 2 squares wide to get a 180 degree curve in, so even if you don;t have graph paper or carefully mark out the pace with a ruler, yo know you arent cheating to fit in a turnback curve so long as you are honest about how many squares wide and tall your space is.

 The missing piece is aisle width. But John was never big on wide aisles, he preferred more railroad to big aisles, as is seen in nearly every one of his designs. If you're a skinny guy that might work out just fine. The rest of us get stuck. Or knock stuff off the layout, so wide aisles are a necessity. Despite the whole aisle issue, if you think of the time and the way most layouts were built at the time John wrote the first edition of TPfRO, it was revolutionary.

                                    --Randy

 


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Posted by doctorwayne on Thursday, January 10, 2019 1:28 PM

My DC-powered layout is a multiple point-to-point layout (five separate staging yards), intended for solo operation.  Even if I were to convert to DCC, only one train would be running at a time, as I can't see any purpose in having a train running without being there, both to control it and to enjoy it.

My line between the various small towns is all single track, but through each town it's double. 
This serves two purposes:  most trains "work" each town through which they pass, picking-up or dropping-off cars at the various industries, and because there are both facing- and trailing-point spurs for the industries, the second track serves as a run-around.  A properly-blocked train can then be switched from both ends.

When actual planned operations begin, trains will be run "sequentially".  In other words, while one locomotive is "working" the town, another through train may need to pass (in either direction).  For that to occur, one of the two though tracks will need to be cleared to allow that to happen.  Once the through train has carried on to the next town, it can be either parked (to carry on later or to later "work" that town), and work can resume in the town through which it has just passed.

While the photo below was taken during a work session to move a turnout, it shows two industrial tracks (serving multiple small industries) to the left of the two through mains, and an additional industrial track to the right....

There are nine rail-served industries in this small town, although not all are switched by every train passing through - usually a couple of cars to pick-up, and and two or three to drop-off.

Deciding whether you want single track or double should, I think, be based on your plans for operation.  While I currently enjoy, when I have time, just running a train around the layout, I can't see it being all that entertaining in the long run, hence the provisions made to be able to do more so that the railroad has a reason to be run, just like the real ones.

Wayne

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, January 10, 2019 2:27 PM

rrinker

 To better understand the squares concept, you can simplify it such that a 'square' is the space needed for a quarter turn of your desired minimum radius. It's slightly over, because radius is measure to the center line of the track, so you need to allow for both the actual width of the ties AND to also not have track right at the very edge, but the idea is that the square is the size to fit the quarter turn - WITH consideration for not putting the track right on the edge.  That's really it - 

Sure, I got that, but for whatever reason I still didn't find the squares principle useful as a tool when designing my own track plans.  My brain just didn't work that way when it came to use of space.  But I've found I am still able to design track plans for various spaces - far for 4 spaces/4 layouts.

The smaller the radius, the smaller the turnouts - it's frankly pointless to use a #6 when all your curves are 18" radius. ANd it's pointless to put #4s on a mainline when the radius is 30". 

To me, the above is common sense; it's been a while since I read his book but that must have been in there.

The missing piece is aisle width. But John was never big on wide aisles, he preferred more railroad to big aisles, as is seen in nearly every one of his designs.

Well, maybe John would approve of my latest track plan.  But OTOH, my basement really isn't that big - nore were most of the basements in homes my wife and I looked at when we were searching for our next house, bar one, which was a nice large open rectangular basement, but the house itself was a deal breaker so had to pass on it.  I've got a couple of pinch points down to 24 inches and have tried to widen aisles elsewhere and area's to pass.  But the way I see it is I want a particular track plan with fairly long runs.  As KC and the Sunshine band said, "thats the way uh huh, uh huh, I like it."

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by cuyama on Thursday, January 10, 2019 2:30 PM

caldreamer
How can you switch cars, pull and drip cars into industries without having two trains collide whie you are working with single track?

Sidings.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, January 10, 2019 5:17 PM

riogrande5761

 

 
rrinker

 To better understand the squares concept, you can simplify it such that a 'square' is the space needed for a quarter turn of your desired minimum radius. It's slightly over, because radius is measure to the center line of the track, so you need to allow for both the actual width of the ties AND to also not have track right at the very edge, but the idea is that the square is the size to fit the quarter turn - WITH consideration for not putting the track right on the edge.  That's really it - 

 

Sure, I got that, but for whatever reason I still didn't find the squares principle useful as a tool when designing my own track plans.  My brain just didn't work that way when it came to use of space.  But I've found I am still able to design track plans for various spaces - far for 4 spaces/4 layouts.

 

 
The smaller the radius, the smaller the turnouts - it's frankly pointless to use a #6 when all your curves are 18" radius. ANd it's pointless to put #4s on a mainline when the radius is 30". 

 

To me, the above is common sense; it's been a while since I read his book but that must have been in there.

 

 
The missing piece is aisle width. But John was never big on wide aisles, he preferred more railroad to big aisles, as is seen in nearly every one of his designs.

 

Well, maybe John would approve of my latest track plan.  But OTOH, my basement really isn't that big - nore were most of the basements in homes my wife and I looked at when we were searching for our next house, bar one, which was a nice large open rectangular basement, but the house itself was a deal breaker so had to pass on it.  I've got a couple of pinch points down to 24 inches and have tried to widen aisles elsewhere and area's to pass.  But the way I see it is I want a particular track plan with fairly long runs.  As KC and the Sunshine band said, "thats the way uh huh, uh huh, I like it."

 

I like your track plan, and consider the narrow aisles its only shortcoming.

As for your earler comments about unattended trains, you either like the idea of display running or you don't. I don't consider them unattended when I am standing right there and can push the "stop" button.

And in my case, I have ATC that will stop them automaticly if a turnout is left in the wrong position or a block does not have proper authorization. And detection display boards will show at a glance that trains are moving correctly even when out of sight.

I agree too many grades can be a problem as well, something I am avoiding on my new layout. No helix, no multi deck, mostly easy access to hidden track.

The whole double track mainline loop including the thru staging will be over 300' in length, and set up for 30-50 car trains.

Most of my switching will be completely off the mainline on a belt line. So those display trains can run while the belt line gets switched or the yard gets worked.

But I like to "watch" trains as much as "run" trains, and I consider display running key in sharing the layout with non modelers. So the whole concept has been carefully constructed to provide for both, display and "session" operations, for a crew or just me.

And, the double track mainline is one of the keys to that versatility.

And, double track was pretty common in this part of the country in the era I model.

Sheldon  

    

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