I have been hard at work building a layout that pretty closely follows this trackplan (note-click on any of the images in this post for a larger view):
In another room on the right, there is a small staging yard for SOO line power and transfers, as well as a helix to get me to the lower level BNSF staging yard below the paper mill. All in all, that's my layout.
I had a couple of friends over for an inspection the other night, and they ran some trains. One thing that I noticed was that this layout, as built, was pretty much limited to one train at a time. In order to switch the industries, the only "main" track was tied up, preventing another train from getting by. Since I hope to host multi-person op sessions, this troubled me. I started thinking about possible changes that would correct this, up to and including starting over. Which I most certainly am not inclined to do.
Then I had a light bulb moment. One
small change would enable the layout to accommodate more simultaneous traffic. I came up with this:
Simply adding some double track would free up the railroad, allowing the SOO Line transfer to bypass the BNSF job working the paper mill, or the mill switcher trading cars on the siding for cars in the mill. It would also give me a runaround that would handle the 20 car grain trains the elevator is designed to accept.
And so today I started tearing apart my still-abuilding railroad. Fascia, and some completed scenery, out the door. I needed to extend the shelf on the left of the drawing some 2 inches to allow the installation of the parallel track, and wrap it around the top. Two additional turnouts will also be needed, but luckily these are in inventory. I've got the work well underway, with one turnout installed and two sections of flex track in place. Here are a couple of photos of the work that is in progress.
So that's the story of evolution on my model railroad. It's not revolutionary, but hopefully it makes for a more enjoyable, more "operable" layout that will allow more people to participate in sessions.