Model Railroad Layout Planning

I’ve been working on the railroad… Maybe not quite as literal as the song, but progress is being made with the model railroad layout planning. I’ve been using XTrkCAD to do the track planning. I did my first attempts on paper and then on the Atlas Track Planning Software, but it wasn’t that great. I kind of wish these software packages has an automatic benchwork tool that could make modules or standard benchwork depending on your preference. Would save me the effort of making another layer. To see my YouTube update of how planning is going, read more…

As for my wishlist of things for on my layout, I’m struggling to fit them all in.

This is what I want on my model railroad layout:

  • Double main line
  • Yard
  • Locomotive facility
  • City
  • Seaport
  • Fair
  • Industry

But I barely fitting in the double main line, yard, industry, and city. Let’s look at the design again and go over each area.
Merrimack Valley Model Railroad Layout

Double Main Line

Why do I want this? I guess since I have yet to come up with any sort of good switching, it will allow me to run a train or two in a really long loop that will be slightly less boring than a single loop. So is this really a double main or just a single main that runs in parallel?


The yard isn’t quite what I wanted, but it fits. Ideally I wanted two ladders, but there just wasn’t enough room. This video by DJsTrains has some good ideas. Open to suggestions.

Locomotive Facility

This area is across the main lines from the yard. I originally had explored the idea of a turntable and roundhouse, but I’m modeling the modern era and there are very few still in operation or even standing. Not to mention the amount of space they take up. So I figured I’d use something like the Walther’s Diesel House and the Diesel Fueling facility. They are both fairly decent sized, so I’m not sure if there is a better way to setup servicing. I also want to make sure I leave room for employee parking, chain link, etc.


Not obvious on the layout blueprint, but the longer skinny section with 3 tracks was the area I was imagining. Unfortunately due to the chimney, I cannot make this area wider than 2 and still have clearance to walk. I was imagining the Walthers Rocky Point Lighthouse and the Walthers Front Street Warehouse. Then I would create an amusement pier with some Faller amusement rides & games. Perhaps the warehouse would just be converted into shops. Also need to fit in some lobster boats. Wouldn’t be New England without them!


The City I think can be an easy thing. In the bottom right of the layout, the loops are covered, allowing me to put the city elevated above it. I’ll create some retaining walls and use both HO and N scale buildings for forced depth. There are two tracks there that would allow for maybe a furniture factory or some other warehouse.


So New England has a few industries that would for the model railroad; passengers, seafood, paper, lumber. In the top right on the layout, you’ll see the main lines go into a tunnel and a reversing loop above them. This is where I was imagining a modern lumber complex. Which is why I wanted a second industry of paper. This way pulp wood could be taken to the paper mill and regular lumber be taken to the furniture factory. Open to thoughts and suggestions on how to fit it all in.

So is this too much for one little layout? I’m not really sure. Would love to hear some suggestions in the comments. Or I can share the XTrkCAD layout file if someone else wants to take a stab at my little model railroad layout.

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