If a minecart is at rest on a deactivated powered rail, simply powering the rail will not make it move. The minecart must be kickstarted somehow, e.g. by a player pushing it in the desired direction.

I'd like to make a traditional train station, where the carts stop briefly at a platform before speeding away. However, due to this limitation, the process can not be fully automated.

What are some techniques to start minecarts from a full stop without any direct influence by the player? If possible, I'd like to avoid sloped rails because they look bad next to a platform.

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    I think sloped rails ARE the only reliable way to do this. Probably the introduction of pistons will help, though. – Shinrai Jun 21 '11 at 23:37
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    @Shinrai Perhaps some convoluted design involving a minecart coming up from behind and bumping it? – Maxpm Jun 22 '11 at 0:06
  • Yeah, but that minecart has to get started SOMEHOW... – Shinrai Jun 22 '11 at 2:54
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    that second minecart could easily come in from a booster track, and use a detector rail to switch the tracks at the end. – The Communist Duck Jun 22 '11 at 8:00

The basic principle of starting minecarts with Powered Rails is that the minecart needs to "know which way to go". By this, I mean there must only be one possible way for the minecart to move.

A sloped Powered Rail works because the minecart knows to move downhill. Another way to do this without sloping the rail is to put a solid block on one side of the Powered Rail. By doing this, the minecart should start moving the other way when the rail is powered.

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    This explains why my minecart won't move if it isn't -right- next to the wall on the powered rail. That has been bugging me for days, thanks for the answer! – theorise Jun 22 '11 at 9:30

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