Hello from the digital World


New Member
Hi all,

I have been dabbling in Model Railways/Railroads for several decades now during which time I have acquired a vast amount of Model rail publications and books but have largely remained an armchair modeller. Mainly for lack of time to tackle a large project but also a lack of focus on my ultimate goal largely I suspect due to Information Overload.

I have collected locomotives and Rolling Stock in HO, OO and N-Scale (British, European and American outline) but, apart from loops of OO Set track as part of the Christmas decorations, I have only constructed more permanent layouts in N-Scale on 2x4 foot frameworks.

Over the years, however, I have published several of my plans and ideas of which the most popular was a Tutorial in N-Scale dating back to Jan 2000.

Although the Web Host that I used has long since vanished the original web site survives on the Internet Archive as: https://web.archive.org/web/20000101000000*/http://users.iafrica.com/c/ca/caroper/tutorial
and the associated discussion group is still going strong at https://groups.io/g/NTutorial

Being a computer professional I have tried various software platforms over the years for Design, Operation and Simulation of Model Railroads but found that the programs I most used were the ones for designing track plans and 3d Modeling.
As a result my main area of interest has settled down to be Structure Modeling and Industrial Switching.

Now that I am retired I have the Time to spend on my own layout and I have room in my "Office" for a shelf layout around two walls (the other two being window and cupboard space (all that old kit has to be stored somewhere).

But there is one last twist in this saga.

Although I decided long ago that I did not like Rail Simulators I have , since trainz UTC edition, been dabbling with simulators as a design Tool
I finally considered Trainz 2019 to be a good platform to test track plans to great effect.
That evolved into creating and testing switch lists to run on them.
I ended up having so much fun operating them as I would a Modal railroad I advanced to the next step.
I simulated the benchwork then started to Build Digital structures and create scenery.

I am still doing mainly Small shelf switchers, as that is all I will have space for in the real world, but the great thing about that is that I can build and scenic a shelf layout in a day or two on that platform depending on any custom structures and level of detail that I may requer.

Here are a few examples I have recently done (Out of the many builds that I have created on the PC) and am currently testing.

Posted in Layout Designs by Rob Chant - ID=158 - Port Carbon Industrial Railway (with Car Float)
ID=158 - Port Carbon Industrial Railway (with Car Float).png

Posted in Layout Designs by Rob Chant - jomrd id=224
jomrd id=224.png

Posted in Layout Designs by Rob Chant. - Burnside Industrial Park (ISL) JMRD ID=109
Burnside Industrial Park (ISL) JMRD ID=109.png

Posted in Layout Designs by Rob Chant. - Barchester PA - ID=246
Barchester PA - ( jomrd.com-ID=242).png

All of the above give me between 30 and 90 minutes of interesting switching operations from a simple switch list spreadsheet, and, as I am having so much fun building and operating them with, no need to purchase equipment or build bench work, that having finally got the time and space to build a physical layout I may well stick to building and operating in the simulator instead.

So, if digital Model Railroads are are acceptable, as every aspect of Modeling and Research holds true be it in the Physical or Digital realm, I look forward to joining the community.

Cheers, and greetings from Darkest Africa,
Hello and welcome!

The digital realm is certainly a unique aspect of the hobby! Your layouts look great, I look forward to seeing more of your work!

- Guilford

I would like to point out that all 4 of the above Designs are by Rob Chant, one of my favorite designers.

The Trainz implementation of his designs are mine and are based on the 3D mockups that Rob publishes.
The scenery, detailing and structures are, however, mine as are the swichlists that I generate to operate them.

Robs designs can be found here:

Journal of Model Railroad Design | Blog

He also does custom work and I highly recommend his designs to anyone interested in operation focused layouts that can be built in relatively small space.

His published plans are also a great reference for other layout designers as his layouts make excellent layout Design Elements whilst his approach to using the minimum amount of track to do the job keeps costs down as well as enhancing the scenic possibilities.

If anyone hasn't had a look at his work before I recommend that they do - preferably before starting construction.


p.s. I am not affiliated in any way, just a fan that got addicted to his work.
So, if digital Model Railroads are are acceptable, as every aspect of Modeling and Research holds true be it in the Physical or Digital realm, I look forward to joining the community.

They definitely are, and we even have a special "Binary Scale" category for all manner of digital model railroads and train sims, which I've moved your post to.
These are an excellent way to test your designs before you build (or simply have fun.)

At this point I would suggest that anyone doing a switching style railroad give this a try first and see how it works before you build.
They definitely are, and we even have a special "Binary Scale" category for all manner of digital model railroads and train sims, which I've moved your post to.
Hi Bob,

Your site, your rules, but I don't agree with my post being dumped in to a hard to find folder that talks about puzzles and games when I am trying to show how a simulator can be used as a Scale Model Railroad design tool that not only lets you visualise the end result but actually operate it as you would a scale model railroad.

What I posted are HO Models designed to be built in the physical world and operated by one or more operators.
What I have done is build then in a virtual world and the techniques will work for any scale or guage.
They are not crude graphics shunting puzzles that will run on a cell phone.

Perhaps If I were to show some additional camera angles you would see the difference.

Flagging the crossing at Blackwater.png

Switching Brooklyn.png


I think what I am trying to say here is that these are highly detailed scale models but built on a digital platform rather than physical.
They are not Simulations or Computer games they are a viable alternative for any space starved Modler to construct and operate a layout of his choice in any scale and of any size.

Although my original intent was to test a design concept before committing to a physical build I soon discovered that the process of building a digital version was as challenging and rewarding as building a physical model railroad but without the sawdust, polystyrene offcuts and paint spills.

When it comes to operating the layout you can use DCC controls or simulated Cab control, you can operate alone or, in multi-user mode, invite friends from all over the world to operate with you. There are even various attempts to build in operating procedures and waybills, most of which I find gimmicky, or too fiddly, so I operate with switch lists but that too parallels the scale model world.

In the trainz community they are referred to as Model Railroadz, in other forums they are V-Scale but the one thing they are not is computer games and simulations.

Perhaps I may be able to assist a few armchair molders to build the layout of their dreams.
Even without even leaving the armchair if they have a powerful enough laptop computer ;).

But I certainly hope we can open debate as to whether digital builds (as opposed to computer games) should be seen as a legitimate form of Model Railroading and not just a gimmick or sideshow.

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