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Setting Up a Layout With SwitchList

To operate switchlists, you need to be able to name the towns on your railroad, the industries in those towns, the freight cars that will be delivered to those industries, the trains carrying the freight cars, and the cargos inside those cars.

That may seem intimidating, but you don't have to type in all information on every freight car or town to try out SwitchList. Instead, just name a few cars, a couple industries, and a single train at first. Fill in the remaining cars as you go. Add or remove cargos as you consider what your trains might carry. You can add, remove, or change any item at any time.

To set up your layout in SwitchList

  1. Add freight cars.

    Go to the Freight Car tab and enter the information for some of your freight cars. Press "Add" to create a new freight car, then type in some of the details of the car. At first, you only need to enter the "reporting marks" - the initials and car number ("SP 21594", "PENN 593021"). Later, you can add the car type, divisions, and the like.

    For now, just type in a few freight cars of the same type - all boxcars or hoppers. That way, you can enter only a few cargos and test that these cars carry the cargo around.

    If you have typed your freight cars into another program, you may be able to import your list of freight cars directly.

    User Interface: Freight Car Tab

    Importing Lists of Freight Cars

  2. Create a town.

    Go to the Towns tab and name the major places on your layout. Places that are hidden such as hidden yards and staging tracks should be labeled as "staging".

    User Interface: Towns Tab

    Learn more about staging.

    Learn more about offline towns.

  3. Name the industries on your layout.

    Industries can be multi-track locations ("Chemical Plant") or just part of a track ("Car Plant Scrap Track"). You only want to specify enough to help your train crews know where cars go.

    User Interface: Industries Tab

    What counts as an industry?

  4. Create a yard.

    Create a yard to indicate where trains start. Yards can either be hidden in staging, or a physical place on the layout. All trains must start and end in a town with a yard.

    User Interface: Yards Tab

  5. Create a train.

    Create a single train for now that visits all the towns.

    User Interface: Trains Tab

  6. Create a few cargos.

    Choose an industry, identify a likely item being sent or received from it, and type in the needed fields.

    User Interface: Cargos Tab

    In Depth: Hints on Choosing Cargos

  7. Now run the train.

    Go back to the Overview tab. Press the "Start new session" button to assign some new loads to your freight cars. Select a train, and press "Make switchList" to get a list of cars to switch. Print your switchlist, and operate your model railroad!

    Running an Operating Session with SwitchList