Best planning software?

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by iis612, Jan 23, 2007.

  1. iis612

    iis612 Member

    I have XTRKCAD and the Atlas software too, and I am not a fan of either. I have been using a drafting table and equipment to work on different schemes, but I can't test any of them that way. I have no problem paying for good software, but not without knowing it is good. Any suggestions?
  2. BigJim

    BigJim Member

    At first I had a problem with XTrkCAD. When I learned to do more "Joins" between two straight tracks, even for 90 degree corners, and modify/extend to have more track it became easier. Want a curve of the end of a turnout? Extend the turnout leg. Now hold down the shift and curve it (easement=none). Now grab it again with modify and drag a straight track off in the direction you want to go. For precise radii use the "describe" function between these two steps and set the radius.

    The other thing I didn't like was deleting track selected in a previous step in error. Found that the "Move to bottom" button works fine to deselect all selected items.

    Unless you want 3D I would suggest learning some "tricks" and giving it a chance.
  3. iis612

    iis612 Member

    With Xtrk, it is either my computer (which is only 2 months old and very well maintained) or the software needs an update. When I "undo" it removes several items, generally not the item I want removed.
    I should delete it and re-install it and searcgh for known updates.
  4. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

    There is a thread on modeling software, but i can't seem to locate it :0. There are a few, winrail, right trak etc. I'll keep hunting for the thread w/ the reviews.
  5. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    iis, when you 'undo', it should only remove your last move, so to speak. Are you using 'select' by mistake?
    I was like you, I had both programs, Atlas and Xtrk, I found Atlas was not flexible, especially on the flex track curves. I finally sat down and started using Xtrk only, and found I can do almost any kind of track planning. I really like the fact I can test the track plan by running a train. Plus it is free. More money for cars!

  6. DRail

    DRail New Member

    What track do you want to work with? I always find that each track planning tool has its own pros and cons depending on what you want. One is good for planning sectional track, while the other excels in 3D viewing or flex track.

    Joe Daddy posted a review in his blog
    that might interest you.

    Anyway, have you tried any of the European tools like WinRail, WinTrack or DRail? Of course, as the vendor of DRail I would be very interested to know what you think of it.
  7. HOtrainman

    HOtrainman Member

    what are some links for these?

    I wanna try- i am using the Atlas one, but not good.
  8. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

    i found this directory:

    I still can't find that thread hehehe i can't remember some of the keywords in it.

  9. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    One reasion Americans do not use DRail might have something to do with the fact that WinXP cannot open any of the files.

    On a related subject, are there additional structure libraries for XTrkCad? The stuff furnished for HOn3 is almost non-existent.

    I also have problems with XTrkCad's scale - in HO a simple wye takes up most of what is supposed to be a 4 x 8 space. Somehow, that cannot be correct.
  10. wickman

    wickman Member

    My entire first and second layout was designed with xtracad I thought it was great. I could run mock sessions and test out the functionality. :wave:
  11. DRail

    DRail New Member

    Hi Mountain Man, what do you mean with WinXP not being able to open any of the files?
    Maybe the confusion comes from the fact that the DRail application needs to be installed on your PC before you can view some of the examples on the website.
  12. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    DRail: no offense, but that is the very last thing I will evr do after bad experiences in the past.

    First I see it, and if it looks good, only then does anything get downloaded. And when I hit a site where nothing can be opened...when the other sites do open?

    All I can say is that it turned me off, right then and there.
  13. DRail

    DRail New Member

    Mountain Man: That's valuable feedback: we'll change it!
  14. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    For the mac folk, I recommend Empire Express:

    I used to use Rail Modeller ( ), but one thing I love about EE is their Flex Track. You can set a minimum radius to use when laying down track, you can drag one track and make it as long/short as you need and it'll automatically calculate how many pieces are needed, and it'll auto connect flex track and make a smooth transition between track (if the curve is at somewhat the right radius).

    I used EE to build the layout plan (which I might be changing thanks to the Model Railroader I got yesterday. See Page 75) here:
  15. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

    Re: Track Planning Software

    I suggest going to and clicking on 3rd PlanIt. I have used this software quite easily, there is also track available from an assortment of manufacturers.
  16. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Tried your suggestion re demo of 3dplanit and found it confusing and balky. Specifically, the demo does not often do what the tutorial says it will. Then something unknown happened after two hours of struggling, it announced a "problem and had to close" and, since it doesn't have a "save feature", all was lost.

    I don't know what this thing costs, but I am so far unimpressed and I cdefinitely would not buy it on the strength of the demo, which I believe is supposed to convince a buyer that the product is worthy of the money.

    Addendum: Tried unsuccessfully to contact these people - only e-mail link that actually works is the one to buy the product, which is not what I expect from any vendor of anything.

    So far on a scale of 1 - 10: -1 :curse:
  17. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Mountain Man, I agree. I tried there demo and was not impressed. While it might be nice to "see" your layout in 3d, I'd rather see more rolling stock on my layout. I will stick with Xtrk, considering this is not a program you will use all the time.

  18. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

    There is a gentleman that has a web page devoted to comparing the various layout design software packages. You can find it at

    Regarding 3rd Planit, he makes the following somewhat ominous statement:

    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif][FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif]"As of October, 2005, the publisher of 3rd PlanIt has been unresponsive to requests for information, which is concerning. While the future of the program is in some question, the currently released version is a solid product that I find quite useful."

    The aforementioned web page indicates there is a Yahoo group for 3rd Planit. I would ask some hard questions of those folks before buying the product.
  19. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

    Ugly, Ugly, Ugly!

    Following up on my last post:

    I just cruised one of the the Yahoo 3rd Planit groups. It seems there are three of them, and they apparently don't get along. Neither do the members of the group I looked at. Talk about vitriol.

    From what I could gather, the owner (and apparently sole functioning employee) of El Dorado Software, the maker(s) of 3rd Planit, is either hated, loved, or merely tolerated by the group's members. And those that aren't on the same team seem to spend a lot of time hurling barbs at the people on the other teams.

    Apparently the owner, Randy something or other, has not been attending to business in a manner that suits everyone for several years, and a lot of people aren't buying his explanations. Others defend him rigorously. It is all quite sordid and very depressing.

    Personally, I had been trying to decide whether to put an effort into learning 3rd Planit or Cadrail. I was undecided which way to go until I looked at the 3rd Planit Yahoo group. I now know. I just downloaded the latest Cadrail demo.
  20. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic


    I'd give Xtrcad a try. For the price (free!) I don't think you can do better. There's a Yahoo support group for it as well. The latest version (3.1.4) lets you run trains, does elevations, but doesn't offer a 3D view.

Share This Page