TS2017 ROUTE BUILDING #9 - Laying Track

TS2017 ROUTE BUILDING #9 - Laying Track

Preparation Check
At this stage of  your project you ought to have created your Developer folders within Railworks. You have created a route with your chosen name either by way of the Railworks Route Editor, or RW Tools. Also you have determined the Track Rules that would be most applicable to your route. You know your network speed limits and locations of speed changes. And most importantly, you have a Google Maps overlay so you know where you are going.

Let's Start Building!
Now it's time to lay your first piece of track. Start by selecting the track piece you wish to place in your route by highlighting it in the list of available track pieces in the World Editor panels. The first thing you'll notice is a panel that opens up on the right side of your Editor. This panel is where speed limits and other track characteristics are defined for only the piece of track about to be laid. This panel has absolutely no effect on a piece of track that has already been laid.

If you know the grade upon which you are laying this part of the track network, you may select that grade )up or down) in the sub-panel in the lower left-hand corner of the World Editor. There is a little icon that looks like a ramp and beside it is another box where you can enter the desired grade. It probably says 0.0 to start with. Enter your desired grade. Put a minus sign in front of the number for down grades.

Just above the ramp icon is one that looks like a couple of pieces of parallel track. In the box beside it is where you would enter the number of track lines you wish to place at the same time. This is ideal for yards and multiple track networks. The other settings ought to be left at default. If you want the camera to follow the network as you lay the track you can click on the radio button to the right of the icon featuring a track piece with an arrow running parallel to it. Each time you click the running end of a new track piece to place it, the camera will automatically move to the point on the terrain where you clicked. This can be a handy feature, or a pain in the butt, depending on how you prefer to move your camera positions.

After making your speed selections, track characteristics, etc., move your cursor over the golf course. You will see that the cursor changes to a yellow arrow protruding from a cube. Click your left mouse button to place the start point of the track piece onto the terrain. Or, click and HOLD to place the track piece and rotate it to point in the direction of choice. When you let go of the mouse button the track will be ready to "stretch" in the chosen direction. We will call this starting point the Standing End of the track.

As you move your mouse forward, a white frame will stretch with the mouse movement. The movable end of that frame will be referenced hereafter as the Running End of the track. Click again and the track piece will appear between the two points. To get a perfectly straight piece of track, hold down the Ctrl key while stretching the track piece. The frame will turn yellow in color to indicate that it is perfectly straight. Once the frame turns yellow it will stay that way until the placement is made, or the Ctrl button is released.

RW will automatically reload the mouse for another placement of the same object. The track piece (or object), including its selected characteristics will stay loaded for repeated placements until the object is deselected. To deselect the object, or stop the placement mode, right-click on any section of open terrain on the golf course.

When you place an object in RW, it automatically starts in a level position, pointing northward. It's actual position will be determined by the design of the object. From that point, you can manipulate the object into the desired position on the terrain. Select the object to be manipulated (in our case, the first piece of track you put down) in order to cause the manipulation tools to apply to the selected object only. You can select multiple objects by holding down the Ctrl button while clicking on your selections.

To ROTATE an object, select the object and place the cursor over the blue horizontal circle surrounding the object. The circle will turn yellow. Then hold down the LEFT mouse button while moving your mouse left or right. This will cause the object to rotate in the direction of the mouse movement. Let go of the right mouse button when finished rotating the object. To FLIP or INVERT an object (if applicable), do the same using the vertical circle surrounding the object.

Similarly, to MOVE the object, select the object, then select the manipulation tool at the bottom of your screen that looks like 3 arrows pointing in different directions. A gizmo will appear allowing you to select up and down, move left or right. Place your mouse over the arrow points and see what happens. Click and hold the arrow points to move the object with the mouse.

To lay the next piece of track, select the track from the menu as before, set the characteristics of speed, incline, etc., then move the yellow arrow very near the end of the first piece laid. It will 'snap to' the end of the first piece. Click your mouse button to attach the Standing End of the new track piece to the one it just snapped to. Stretch and click to keep going. Repeat, following the visual on the Google Map overlay to follow the track network.

Continue laying track until some adjustments of grade are needed. Personally, I will set the track grade a little higher than the terrain grade so as to keep my track above ground. After a few hundred meters, I will go back and manually adjust the track grade to the terrain in a rough sense; bearing in mind that we will be flattening the terrain underneath the track at a later point in track laying.

As you move along, the key is to avoid abrupt changes in grade when laying your track network. To go from a 0.0 to a 0.6 is quite noticeable when driving at speed. To go from 0.0 to 1.0 would feel like hitting a curb. Severe changes in grade are accomplished by placing shorter pieces of track at smaller grade increments up or down, as the case may be; much like a Ferris Wheel is composed of many short, straight sections that ultimately form a circle.

Super-elevation is a term used to indicate that  the outer rail of a curve is higher in elevation than the inside rail. It is most helpful in high-speed rail systems. By sloping the curve in this manner it helps to avoid derailments by leaning the train into the curve.
Check the box in the Track Characteristics panel to activate super-elevation. You will find that, as you curve your track, the running end will 'snap' to various radius increments. For this reason, it is very difficult to go back and replace a piece of normal track with super-elevated track. It is best to lay the super-elevated curves as you proceed along the rail network. Don't try to back-track.

The option below super-elevation is for setting the level of track unevenness. This option controls the amount of bounce and sway the loco will encounter on the track. A slow speed, freight route could be set at 35. Use lower numbers for faster track.

Having read up on the basics of laying track pieces, you may wish to view my video tutorial on Basic Track Networking which will present the flow of the procedures outlined above. It also includes a demonstration on manipulating track.

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