Placing Parallel Tracks

Parallel tracks are common in all train station areas, layout fiddle yards, modern depots and doubled main lines. Because of this, correct placement of parallel tracks is important. This article will show you the basic ways of placing parallel tracks when modelling your layout in SCARM.

The methods shown here are intended for achieving of the correct center-to-center distance between the tracks (see below) and can be directly used for placing of parallel straight tracks or parallel sectional curves with predefined radii according to the track system’s parallel tracks distance. If you intend to work with flex tracks, see also the post about creating parallel line with flex tracks.

The first method uses Parallel Start point function, introduced in SCARM v. 0.9.9. It is intended to place new parallel start point next to existing start point or join place between two connected tracks. Before use it, you will need to select a free start point of the existing track, next to which you will then place your parallel track.

In order to select the join place between two connected tracks, you will need to activate Track Heights from “View” > “Show Track Heights” menu.

Now select “Edit” > “Parallel Start Point” command – the following dialog box will appear:

Enter the parallel track center-to-center distance in the “Distance” field. Select the desired Side and Direction, relative to selected (active) start point and press “Place” button – a new start point will appear at chosen position. Now you can place your parallel track, starting from this point.

Center-to-center distance is one of the common parameters in every track system and the producers are usually mention it in their catalogs and track related materials. However, this distance is often bigger than the prototype railroad lines parallel tracks distance. Because of this, the modellers who are attempting to keep as close as possible to the real railways, are using smaller parallel distance than specified in the track system, especially on straight routes in doubled main lines. Be aware that not every track system allows this, without cutting and reworking of tracks or branches in the turnouts.

The second method is based on usage of two identical straight turnouts, connected in a crossover with additional straight sections for equalizing the lines. This structure can be used as a template to make parallel aligned tracks on the layout and dismissed when no more needed.

Select the whole structure and attach it to the first track. Then place second parallel track at the free start point at the same end of the structure. Now move the structure away for next use or just delete it.

To move and attach the selected tracks, right click with the mouse over one of them and select “Move” from the context menu. Then move the selection with the mouse so desired arrow of one selected track to overlap the arrow of the destination track – they will become red and green. Click with left mouse button and selection will be attached to the destination track.
See How to move the tracks and How to disconnect and connect the tracks FAQ topics for more details.

The third method relies on already predefined parallel tracks in some libraries. That is track system and producer dependent – not every library contains such parallel tracks inside. Good example is Kato N track system and also some other libraries with double crossovers or double track level crossings. Check your favorite track system to see if there is such parallel tracks and if you’re lucky, use them as templates for making other accurate parallel lines in your track plan.

It is possible that some parallel track in particular track system is produced, but not included in SCARM. If this is your case, write a comment below with a part number of the track and it will be added in some of the next versions of the program.

You can achieve parallel tracks not only by above methods, but also by combining various turnouts in the train station, by copy and paste straight tracks next to each other and may be by some other ways. However, the described methods are common, quick and useful and if you were not used them before, you can start with them right now.

See also
How to move the tracks
How to disconnect and connect the tracks
Creating Parallel Line with Flex Tracks

One thought on “Placing Parallel Tracks

  1. Using the Hornby track system I use the double track level crossing to get the spacing and alignment of parallel tracks

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