TS2017 ROUTE BUILDING #10 - Manipulating Track

TS2017 ROUTE BUILDING #10 - Manipulating Track

In this tutorial, I will attempt to address the various aspects of track manipulation. You will learn how to change track gradient, split a track piece, join one track to another, weld track, etc.

Let us go to the World Editor now; opened up to your route. You may have laid several track pieces by now and it is probably becoming apparent that you'll need to make some adjustments for the general contour of the route terrain. This is accomplished by the use of the Elevation Tool. To activate the Elevation Tool, click on the Gradient icon in the Main Toolbox. It looks like the ramp we saw in the track characteristics panel. Click on it and you will see yellow, upward pointing arrows appear on your track at the break points.

When you hover your cursor very near the track another yellow arrow will appear on the track indicating your cursor position. You can click anywhere on the track to set another break point in addition to the ones already there. This allows you to make a gradient change without having to split the track.

To change the gradient at any of the break points:
  1. Select the Gradient Tool;
  2. Position your cursor on the break point to be adjusted (the arrow will become darker). Click on it to highlight the break point. The arrow will then turn red;
  3. Click and HOLD your left mouse button on the red arrow and move the mouse forward or back to move the break point up or down. Let go of the button when you are happy with the track position. 
  4. Right click on the open terrain to deactivate the tool.

Just a reminder here to avoid abrupt grade changes. Changes in track gradient should not feel like hitting a curb.

Using the Smooth Gradient Tool is another way of smoothing out small sections of track. Although the tool is useful for smaller sections (less than 100m is suggested), it can also pose a danger. The use of the tool will sometimes cause unpredictable results. Unfortunately, the UNDO command seldom reverses the harm done.

My RR friend had this to say about the tool, "I have used the undo tool after a mistake, saved my work and upon later returning to the job at hand I have discovered that as much as 8 miles of track were lifted completely out of position and raised around 15 plus meters UP IN THE AIR! A nightmare to relay it all."

The only way to save the day is to close Railworks without saving your most recent work since the last save. If you are in full screen mode, you cannot access the 'close' button in the upper right-hand corner of the window. This is why I advised in Tutorial #5 that it is recommended that you build your route in the windowed mode of the program.

There are occasions where you may wish to split a piece of track at a certain point. I often do this when I need to trim a few meters off the end of a piece for better placement of the next piece. You can then select the track section you don't want and hit Delete on your keyboard to get rid of it.

Here's how to split track:
  1. Select the Split Tool from the main Toolbox;
  2. Place your cursor on the track at the point you wish to split (a yellow arrow will appear on the track pointing in the direction of travel);
  3. Click to split at the selected spot (you will likely see two buffers appear indicating a successful split);
  4. Highlight the track section to be removed;
  5. Hit Delete on your keyboard.

After I've cut and deleted the tail end of a piece of track, I may then join the next piece of laid track to the end of the shortened one.

To join two track pieces together;
  1. Highlight the Join Tool in the main Toolbox;
  2. Click on the piece of track that is to be joined;
  3. Click on the piece of track that you are joining to. That's it.
In most cases, the joined track will weld itself together.

There are occasions where two joined track pieces require a weld in order to avoid a break in the track network. When you click on the Weld Tool in the main Toolbox these weld points are identified on the track by a grey colored square floating above the break point. Click on the grey square to weld the joint. As before, disable the tool by right-clicking on the open terrain.

Crossovers are welded in the same way using the Cross Over Tool, right beside the Weld Tool.

More in TS2017 ROUTE BUILDING #11 - Building Roads
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