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What's the safest way to construct minecart tracks so that they can be used during night-time without mobs ever getting on the tracks and stopping you?

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3x3 tunnel of glass walls & glass roof with torches spaced once per four blocks. Scenic and safe. –  zzzzBov Nov 6 '12 at 15:44
    
@zzzzBov Yeah cool idea, I was thinking about something like that. Lots of sand required but it'd look so nifty! Should be an answer ;) –  sync Nov 7 '12 at 10:24

3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

On my server, we always built either a subway or a monorail.

EDIT: Of course, as many pointed out in the comment, all of these solutions need to be well lit, following robust lighting rules, in order to be safe from monster spawning.

Subway

Subways are the safest and get you lots of resources. You could build it well under level 20 so you could have a chance at diamonds on the way. It can also give you access to cave systems, abandoned mining shafts and even strongholds. However, it requires to have a good amount of stairways and you could encounter lava lake. But since it's one block at a time, it's easy to get around and patch up a safe zone.

Monorail

Monorail on the other hand, gets you a nice view over your towns and landscape. A problem would be that you have to build a lot of station upward so you can get off safely without jumping down. It will be impossible for a mob to get up there if your stations are well defended.

Railway

Note on normal railways. They are hard to defend. Putting fence around it may prevent certain mob to get to the rail itself, but skeletons and spider can have an easier time to get a shot at you. Completely surrounding it with walls may get you the same result at a subway in the end. Something to consider.

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On my server, we built an underground track from the NPC village we'd colonised to near the spawn point, straight through a mountain, over a lake of lava, and through an abandoned mine. We found tonnes of diamonds. We found bugger-all gold, which we needed for the booster tracks. –  KBKarma Nov 6 '12 at 14:32
    
I haven't played in a while, but when I created a massive monorail system I ran into problems with mobs spawning on the tracks. Had to add some lighting to prevent the problem. –  jessecurry Nov 6 '12 at 14:45
    
IIRC, Monorail can have mobs spawn on the track. Be sure to keep it well lit. –  zzzzBov Nov 6 '12 at 15:41
    
Thanks all. My current railway has 2-deep channels on either side which stops anything walking to them (kinda like a dug-out monorail I guess), my torch density probably isn't good enough but I rarely have had anything spawn on them. But skeleton arrows are a problem (although not too serious, just annoying). I'm halfway through railway 2 and was digging channels.. But I think I'll try a subway and raised monorail next! –  sync Nov 7 '12 at 10:21
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Note that a subway can still get a bat infestation unless you use command blocks to teleport to them (but then, why use a railway in the first place?), though I don't think they can actually interfere with your minecarts. –  Martin Sojka Nov 7 '12 at 11:14

My previous strategy I'll call 'sunken monorail' and I post here just for completeness in the methods listed as answers.

I placed a railway on the ground (or, my second attempt, I dug a dead flat line through hills or built up as required). Then I dug out 2-deep channels on either side to prevent anything jumping up to the tracks.

These were powered tracks so I had redstone torches fairly regularly just over the powered track segments, and put normal torches on the redstone torch blocks to prevent mobs spawning on them. I don't think my light coverage was quite good enough over the whole track length but had few issues with mobs spawning on the tracks.

Worked fairly well; entry and exit points at ground level, reasonably safe. Issues though were occasional spawned mobs on the tracks, skeleton arrows would get you sometimes, and it was pretty ugly in a way as you really disfigured the landscape. Kind of impressive in a major engineering project way with the huge trenches, but also pretty scarring for the views.

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Make sure the tracks are well lit so that mobs won't spawn on them, and put fences or other barriers either side to prevent mobs from walking onto the tracks.

You may consider completely encasing the tracks if you wish to prevent skeleton arrows and spiders.

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Also, the tracks should probably be on anything but dirt, to prevent cows and the like from spawning on the track. I don't think they spawn on dirt blocks under tracks, but better safe &c. –  KBKarma Nov 6 '12 at 13:45
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I completely forgot about that. In a last-ditch attempt to actually contribute, I'll point out that walling over the tracks has one much bigger benefit: spiders won't be able to get in, if you do it right. –  KBKarma Nov 6 '12 at 13:54
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@KBKarma True! :-) –  fredley Nov 6 '12 at 13:55
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@GrayStoat Unless that just changed in 1.4.2, that's incorrect. Passive mobs spawn both on chunk generation and randomly (but very rarely). There are suspicions that this random spawning only happens when the number of animals in the area is below a certain cap. –  SevenSidedDie Nov 6 '12 at 17:30
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@GrayStoat Also, creepers will ignite when they're about 3-4 blocks from you across a fence. I remember testing that in the pre-1.4 releases when designing a simple record-harvesting trap. Try it: build a four-layer fence and face a creeper across it. Now break one layer at a time to stand closer to the creeper: boom! –  SevenSidedDie Nov 6 '12 at 17:32

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