Can You Recommend Track Planning Software

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by pikeyser, Apr 5, 2008.

  1. pikeyser

    pikeyser New Member

    Hello Members of the Forum,

    Can anyone recommend Track Planning Software. I downloaded the free software from AnyRail EN. It seems fairly easy to use. Since I can use the Kato Unitrack Library built into the software, it is a lot better for me than the Atlas freeware product that can be downloaded from their website.

    The complete AnyRail EN software costs $55.00 to download. Some of the track plans that you members publish on this Forum are very nice. I would be interested knowing what specifically you use. Thank you. Paul
  2. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    Personally, I can't speak for any of the track planning software as I've never used any of them. I do however use AutoCad on a daily basis for business and so that's what I use to plan my layouts... AutoCad2000LT.
  3. pikeyser

    pikeyser New Member

    Thank you TrainNut

    Thank you TrainNut,
    I am familiar with the AutoCad software from 1990 to 1995. At the time, it was a complete engineering program that was fairly expensive...around $500.00. I no longer have access to that program, and I can't justify spending that kind of money. Is the version that you mention reasonably priced...under $100.00. Thank you again for your timely reply. Paul
  4. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    I tried out the AnyRail "trail version" and liked the way it worked as compared to the Atlas RTS software. You can only place 50 pieces of track until the program stops working and asks for payment to license the product. Overall, it is easier to operate than the Atlas IMO, and if I wouldn't have already designed and almost finalized my new layout design with the Atlas - I probably would have bought it. But I didn't explore all the options of the AnyRail - so I can't say exactly how the entire program performs. It was easy enough to create a simple layout in minutes without looking at any "Help" guides.
  5. pikeyser

    pikeyser New Member

    Thank you Herc Driver

    When using the Atlas RTS software, is it possible to specify Kato Unitrack dimensions when laying down the track? Some of the members are using the AnyRail software because when they specify blocks within their plans it is showing as different colors. That happened when I designated blocks in my 50 piece experimental layout. Thank you, again for your timely response. Paul
  6. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    No. I'm not even running the full blown version. I'm running LT and it goes for $1,200. The full blown version is almost $4,000. Upgrades are half that.
  7. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    I can't see enough value to pay for track planning software. I just don't do it enough, and I use the software as a sanity check on sketches and ideas in my head. I very seldom spend the time planning a layout in exact detail - I'd rather get a good idea of fit in the software and then start laying things out full size.

    A caution - be sure to include some appropriate structures and room for scenery in your plans. Unless there is a good reason I avoid terrain slopes with angles greater than 45 degrees. All track must be at least 2" from the benchwork edge. And aisles should be at least 30". These are just my rules, and they do get violated on occasion. But the benefit has to be worth the problems the violation is going to cause.

    The other use I have for planning software is sharing layout designs with others on-line.

    For these reasons, I use the free Atlas RTS (pretty useless for Kato track specifically, but I normally hand-lay anyway) or the free XtrkCad. The latter has a learning curve that is steeper than RTS, but it has libraries for every make of track that are continually being updated by volunteers. For me to use XtrkCad, I had to do the tutorial, try using the program for an hour or two, then repeat parts of the tutorial.

    The latest version of RTS (8.0) is really very nice and very easy to use if you can stand being limited to Atlas track geometries. Flex track handling is much improved, and, to me, is now nicer than XtrkCad. If only RTS had the Walters/Shinohara curved turnouts, or Atlas would make a curved turnout and include it in RTS, RTS would become my software of choice.

    hope this helps
  8. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    XTrkCad is still available, although it is not as "user friendly" to someone like myself who has no experience with autocad programs; however,l it works well once you get the hang of it and the price is right - FREE.
  9. MCL_RDG

    MCL_RDG Member

    The best track planning soft...

    ...ware I know of is the mush in muh head- factory installed.:mrgreen:

    Everthing else has a learning curve (even the crayons).:thumb:

    Good luck.:wave:


    (uhmmm, did I use enough swinging things to show i'm just havin' fun and stuff?)
  10. ScratchyAngel

    ScratchyAngel Member

    XtrkCad isn't quite as easy as AnyRail, but it is free, and does do some things better. As others said, it takes a while to get used to the shift-clicking and other weird things, but there is a tutorial/wiki that should get you going after an hour or two (basically a me too of the above). Of course, the fact that it's free, and updated makes it seem worth the time to learn it. I've seen others say they like the one from 3rd Planit, but even for a computer geek like me the learning curve seemed like a tight radius 5% grade on that one, and it's not free. XtrkCad is at least learnable (well, for me).
  11. pikeyser

    pikeyser New Member

    Thank you, Everyone

    I would like to thank everyone who responded to my software question. Last night, I decided to download XTrkCad. After spending over an hour with it, and drawing a simple oval, I went to bed. I discovered that I could input the Kato Unitrack into the library. As I was laying the track, I found that the curved pieces did not allign themselves accurately with the rest of the straight track. This is not a problem when using the AnyRail system.

    The AnyRail system has the Kato Unitrack completely installed. Also, when you place a curved piece close to another piece, it snaps into the proper allignment. The AnyRail is more intuitive than the XTrkCad program.

    Both programs allow you to draw a plan and simultaneously get an accurate parts list, or bill of materials. I think this is helpful. The XTrkCad also allows you to enter the cost of each piece so that you can get a price list along with the Bill of Materials.

    I will be working with the XTrkCad for the near future; however, I will probably buy the AnyRail program when I can justify the $55. Right now, for the $55.00, I would rather buy another locomotive or several pieces of rolling stock. In the past, virtually all of my track planning has been with a pencil and paper. But it's nice to be able to show my layout plan in a neat and precise way. Software programs allow that. Both of these programs will allow you to proof, or verify, the workability of a plan.

    In the end, drawing software is just another tool. Again, thank you, everyone. Paul

Share This Page