Timetables are an excellent tool for synchronizing traffic. If you have a large layout with numerous operators, timetables are very useful. If you have a small layout, timetables have more limited usefulness.
An issue with timetables is that, if you want to copy the timetables of your prototype, you will encounter the issue that the lines on your layout are usually shorter than those in real life. The running time between stations or yards is shorter than in real life, while other operations such as switching time and stopping time at stations are the same as in real life.
There are several ways to use timetables; let’s set one up with Martin Tärnrot.
CALIBRATE THE RUNNING SPEED OF EACH LOCOMOTIVE
Do this to ensure each train looks good on the layout and is close to the realistic speed for the scale you have on your model railroad.
MEASURE THE RUNNING TIME BETWEEN DESTINATIONS
The “real-life” travel time between two of the stations on Martin’s layout is 15 minutes. Using a stopwatch, Martin measures the travel time between these two stations on his layout: 1 minute, 30 seconds. That means he needs to set his layout clock to 10 times the speed.
SET THE MODEL TIME CLOCK SPEED
Martin does this in Rocrail, free software for controlling model railroads. He sets the clock in Rocrail to 10x speed and it does six seconds per minute.
REPEAT THE PROCESS FOR FREIGHT TRAINS
For freight trains, the running time between destinations is the same but, the handling time in the yards for changing cars takes more time. Check the video to see how Martin calculates the switching times for the various freight cars.
CREATE A BASIC TIMETABLE
For this, Martin uses Microsoft Excel. On the X axis, he has the destinations and on the Y axis, the different trains are listed.
CREATE A GRAPHIC TIMETABLE
Alternatively, you can create a graphic timetable, which is easier to read. It is color coded.
For another take on timetables and schedules, see our video on How to Make a Proper Schedule for Your Layout.