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I've built roughly 3000 blocks worth of underground railway in my Survival game. There are stations along the way, near interesting features of terrain that require me to press button to continue.

Considering the length of the line, the obligatory stops are becoming tiresome. Currently I've made it so that return trip bypasses the stations, but it's still not optimal. I'd like a way to choose whether I stop or continue before entering the station.

Now the simple way is to hop out of the running cart and then either chase it down or use a rider detector to dump the empty cart onto a side track. That's not very elegant though.

I tried a switch, to switch the railway track before entering the station. Problem: I approach the station really fast and the switch is small. Hitting the switch while on the move is hard, I miss more frequently than I hit it.

The stations are a bit too far apart to send a redstone signal from the start station to pick my goal.

So, are there any graceful techniques how to decide upon a turn or stop of the cart while moving in it fast?

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I think there will be a way to do this but its not perfected yet so I can not give an answer. Etho has been working on destination selectors via hopper carts and redstone systems in the snapshots for a while. Until that is all sorted out though, different tracks laid next to/on top of is all I could offer. – James Mar 11 '13 at 17:04
Last time I played was long long ago, so there might be a better way now. But in my world I built a rail network linking several destinations and I built in a system where at each station you could choose where you wanted to go. Each station had a wall of buttons and depending on which one you pressed set the state of a latch at each of the junctions along the way. So when you set off the track at each junction was already set to direct me to my destination. It took vast amounts of red stone, but it wasn't complicated. A memory latch to set the state of each junction and lots of repeaters. – Ian Mar 11 '13 at 17:11
@Ian: The problem is the line is pretty much straight, quite past the range of how far Redstone is active. – SF. Mar 11 '13 at 17:17
You might consider installing Railcraft. It was made to achieve the elegant railways you're looking for. – SevenSidedDie Mar 11 '13 at 19:07
a trapchest is easier to hit as you go by, something to think about... – ratchet freak Mar 12 '13 at 15:56
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Here's a quick test implementation of using a Trapped Chest as a large button, as @ratchet freak suggested. Trapped Chests emit a weak redstone signal as long as they are open, stronger the more players have them open.

I wasn't thinking hard enough about how to use it, so this just stops the cart as long as the chest is open, and so is kind of useless — but you can easily change it to send the cart onto a siding for the station. Key points:

  • The incoming track needs to be straight for some distance before, so that you can easily position your cursor to hit the cart. You probably also want to have the chest a little bit earlier along the track.
  • There must be exactly 1 redstone dust between the chest and torch. The signal is too weak to travel farther, and a block beside the chest won't work at all. Don't know about using a redstone repeater.

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Here is a way to make a redstone line along your minecart track so that you can choose to pass all stations:


The redstone line runs parallel along the minecart track. I will try to explain how to do it the best I can...

First at the terminus (butter minecart station), provide two buttons. The left one (right to direction of travel) stops all stations, while the right one (left to direction of travel) is non-stop. (The repeater bit is actually not absolutely needed here, but I will explain what it is below.)


The redstone wire can go up to 15 blocks starting with full power, so put a repeater (setting to 1 tick is enough) every 16 blocks to extend it. However I suspect it won't go beyond unloaded chunks? Even if it does, there will not be an easy way to reset it.

Therefore, I'll add a latch every few chunks (not tested but I think it can be more than 8). (And here's the main point of this answer.) The latch looks like this (Edit: simplified version at bottom):


And the underneath revealed:

Latch (underneath)

Basically, the latch "locks" the redstone power state, so that it can keep its state even when the source chunk is unloaded. The detector rail sends a redstone signal to reset the latch.

How the latch works

For the station that you want to pass, just use the redstone line to power the powered rails. If the line is not powered you will be stopped at the station. Everything else is exactly the same.


If you want to be able to do this for the reversed trip, just copy the setup in the other side. Due to the redstone line being single-direction, you cannot simply reuse it.

Also, you will not be able to change from "non-stop" to "stop all stations" without taking the whole trip (as I said, the detector rails reset the latches). But the opposite is possible, i.e. you can change to non-stop in the middle of the trip by putting a button (or a trapped chest if you want a bigger target) and use it to power the redstone line.

Tested on Minecraft 1.5 with the station beyond 40 chunks (640 blocks), not long but definitely have exceeded the chunk loading distance).

Edit: (x2) Didn't realize that it can further be simplified a bit like this until I've posted the answer:

Simplified the latch a bit

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An extra tip: if you want to hide the wires, bury the line 4-block deep is the best. (You'll need to think a bit how to wire though, but I did it in a nice way.) – Alvin Wong Mar 14 '13 at 15:04

The best/simplest way to do this (and something I've used before) is to make the carts simply pause for a few seconds at each station. If you want to stop at that station, you climb out and walk away. The cart then continues on and gets dumped onto a side track. Otherwise you stay in the cart and it'll take off again shortly. It's not quite as elegant as what you wanted, but it's quite a bit better than jumping out of a running cart, and easier than hitting a button at every stop.

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...and THEN the passenger detector could defer the empty cart into a "boarding platform". – SF. Mar 11 '13 at 20:37

Not all that elegant, but since you mention hopping out of a cart and chasing it down: if you break a cart while you are in it, no need to chase it down. A sufficiently strong sword or bow (I don't know exactly what is needed; feel free to edit in specific data) will break a cart in one hit, and so you stop exactly when you hit it.

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