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I have been doing some experimentation with rail layouts in OpenTTD, and quickly realized that two rails side by side all the way is not very good. I have found that short stretches of two rails with the rest of it being one rail to work for me. Despite this, I still wonder if there is any better way?

Over long stretches of straight rails between two stations, what is the most efficient way to run two trains? Let's say its 150 squares away, and it will just be those two trains. Most efficient would have the highest cargo per minute per train car per dollar.

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    It depends heavily on a number of factors; how far apart are the stations? How likely is it that you'll have too add a third, fourth or more trains in the future? What are you even measuring the efficiency of? – JonK Jan 14 at 15:05
  • @JonK Is it more clear now? – K00lman Jan 14 at 15:08
  • Wouldn't dedicated tracks for each train always be the most efficient because you wouldn't need signals and trains wouldn't ever need to stop? Or am I missing something? – Aulis Ronkainen Jan 14 at 18:21
  • @AulisRonkainen Your right but you would have to pay for double the rails. I was hoping for something that would be just as good or pretty close without having to buy double rails. – K00lman Jan 14 at 20:26
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    It's a while since I've played OpenTTD, I'm more familiar with Locomotion right now but I think the principles are fairly similar. Wouldn't the optimal solution be to have dual rail section at the half way (crossover) point? So with 150 squares, have dual rails from 65-85 squares giving a crossover length of 20 squares (is that enough length for the trains?) and leaving 65 squares either side – Smock Jan 15 at 10:10
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There's no one answer. The optimal layout for two trains depends on the traffic volume and cargo type:

  • For a source-to-destination cargo (eg. coal or steel), and a cargo volume low enough that one train is always loading, the optimal layout is single-track with a one-bay station at the destination and a two-bay station at the source. The two trains "pass" when one train pulls into the source station while the other is still there. A station is more expensive to build than a passing loop, but the increased cargo volume from having a train always loading more than makes up for it.
  • For a source-to-source cargo (eg. passengers or mail), the optimal layout is single-track with one-bay stations at both ends, and a passing loop in the middle. The train orders should use a timetable to ensure the trains depart their stations at the same time rather than "when full", and you'll need to re-tune this timetable as cargo volume increases.
  • For a source-to-destination cargo with a cargo volume high enough that one train fills up and departs before the second returns, the optimal layout in theory is single-track with a passing loop where the two trains meet, but in practice, you're probably going to add a third train soon, and should upgrade the whole line to double-track.

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