Reviews of and information about a selection of the most popular track planning software.
The world of track planning has moved forward since we wrote the information below.
Read a review:
“Claims to be the most complete online database for free model train track plans and layouts of SCARM projects and designs. (SCARM standing for Simple Computer Aided Railway Modeller, an application for Microsoft Windows available to download from the same website).
What I liked: Lots of ways to find and filter track plans: by scale (including HO, N, Z but not OO), size, type, era, track make and combinations. The 3D representation of the plans is also handy to visualise how the different layouts will look (saves me drawing them later).
Note: Although the site obviously promotes their own application, which is free, the track plans are clearly visible and there’s nothing to stop you using them as a base for making a railway without having to get the software.”
Here is a link to the page. Simple Computer Aided Track Planning Software.
Here are the documentation and tutorials.
First here is a forum discussion of what people consider the best track planning software.
Below are links out to information about various track planning software that are available. They were gathered when we were looking for something for our own layouts.
Most of the programs have free versions you can download to test them.
Our final choice was the 3DPlanit program.
Actually, we originally bought the wintrack program. It is one of the most popular track planning programs in Europe. It was highly recommended by members of a club to which I belong.
I wanted a program that would allow me to place buildings, roads, etc. on the plan. The wintrack sales material lead me to believe that the included extra program to craft buildings was easy to use.
I found that it was NOT easy to use. And the seller agreed. And even added that it was difficult to use.
The practical way that I could get a library of buildings to add was to buy additional packages. I resented what I saw as a misleading sales page designed to trap me into an upsale. And even then I would have a difficult time trying to add my own custom buildings.
I got my money back as the result of a PayPal dispute.
My recommendation – if you are primarily interested in laying out a track plan, the software is excellent. If you want to add buildings to the plan, you will probably end up buying extra building packages.
As for 3D Planit, it has features upon features. You can use the CAD features to make buildings and anything else you wish.
It comes with a built in building library that has enough to get you started. The library is really rather weak, but you can build your own custom libraries.
I fault them for not providing a way to add models built in Sketchup. They indicated, a year ago, that they would do that in 6 months. To date, no joy.
But there is a work around that I found. See Adding Sketchup Models To 3D Planit.
There is a definite learning curve. Great tutorials and documentation. But time intensive. This is a program for many layouts or something very complex.
Please note I receive no compensation from any of these companies. But I do sell the cups you see in the video so that I can support this site.
Other Track Planning Software
Some of these are highly rated. I have no experience with them at all.
Railmodeller For the Mac. A rather short learning curve measured in hours.
RR Track For Windows used for sectional track plans. Easy to use.
Cadrail somewhat complicated, many features;
TrainzA lot to do here. Well worth a look.