Choosing train and track sizes

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Choosing train and track sizes

Post by zOldBulldog » Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:16 am

Soon I will start a game that I hope will be my last vanilla map, one that I will keep forever or until I hit the UPS limit. Therefore I want to make ideal choices.

Critical choices will be train length and number of tracks. Over 1000+ hors of game play I already read most of the available train material and watched most of the tutorials. But I am still debating some choices, and I would like input from rail experts that have more experience than me.

Things I already know or have already chosen:

- This discussion is for the area used to launch the first rocket. That will be approximately the size free of biters when you use the maximum size starter area. I know I will use larger trains and tracks outside of this area.
- The purpose of this area/base is to: (1) Do all research and launch the first rocket with a minimum of wasted effort, (2) Produce belts, tracks, beacons, modules and other needed materials in sufficient volume for my later building efforts. (3) I might eventually use the space once cleared of ores for rocket launching facilities based on Nilaus' rocket modules (from his Modular Megabase series, although I would likely use longer trains), to create space science.
- The main tracks will be a cross through the center of the map and a perimeter loop. 4 tracks (2 in each direction).
- For ore I will use 1-2 trains and fairly short tracks that go to a small number of smelting facilities. 2 tracks (one in each direction) in a straight line, looping back at the ends. The smelting facility is on one end, mine stations on short branches off this line. Only ore and construction trains will use these local tracks. The ore trains will never leave these local tracks nor touch the main line. I chose 1-2 trains because the map I chose (in 0.16) has many but fairly small ore deposits plus a few large ones, so large trains will not be wasted in quickly exhausted deposits and I will be able to use smaller mine stations (important due to the limited initial space that is free of deposits. Ore trains are fueled at the smelting facility stops.

Pending decisions/choices.

1) Train length(s) for the main line. This is the hardest choice to make.
- I am tempted to design the line for longer trains but start with 1-2 trains because they are fast and allow making compact stations for that research and 1st rocket stage. Then once the area is cleared of ores switch to larger trains.
- 1-4 train sound good for the number of wagons but have poor acceleration. 2-6 trains have better acceleration but it might complicate unloading stations. So I think that biting the bullet and designing this main line to support 3-8 trains might be the thing to do. Sound right? Or have I gone off the reservation in my thinking?

2) Overall main line design. Based on the above, I *think* these choices might be right for the main line, please point out anything that is obviously wrong:
- Design the main line to support the 3-8 trains I will use once this area is cleared of ores, but initially use 1-2 trains for products and 2-4 trains for pax/construction (I need the extra capacity, and acceleration because I am impatient when watching it).
- 4 lanes, 2 in each direction.
- Avoid making trains cross lanes, try to only split off and merge on the external tracks. Design traffic flow to have the fewest possible direction changes.
- Need to find a good high throughput 4 lane intersection for 3-8 trains. I fear it will be huge.
- This 4-lane main line will eventually become a "branch" of a larger train system once I expand to Megabase size.

3) Planning for Megabase stage to avoid making costly mistakes now, even if the Megabase will be far in the future:
- I am guessing that most of my Megabase stage trains will be 3-8. Is this reasonable?
- I think that my long distance trains will be nuclear fueled 6-16, on simple 2-lane tracks (one each way) without even power poles. They should be massive enough (besides awesome load capacity) to just plow through any aliens without even noticing. Good choice?
- What will be the best way to handle moving these huge amounts of goods from the huge to smaller trains? I would think transbord stations, but since stack inserters can't cross the 2-space distance between trains that might be inefficient. What other options are there?

Wow, that turned out pretty long, but it is a complex topic that nobody seems to have fully covered before. I hope you didn't mind reading and have some good advice to give.

Thanks.

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Re: Choosing train and track sizes

Post by WeirdConstructor » Thu Sep 13, 2018 11:51 am

I don't have that much experience with trains yet.
But if you can afford it, maybe having 2-x trains right from the start could be beneficial.
As you don't have to redesign the stations later?

You could also circumvent the train questions by using yellow belts everywhere!
People are ignoring them when it comes to mega bases, just because they are inefficient and slow... :D

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Re: Choosing train and track sizes

Post by Xtrafresh » Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:12 pm

Re: starting train lengths: I have great experiences using 1-4-1 trains, both locs pointing the same direction. Having only one loc up front allows for more compact station designs, and you still get the speed you need. They're even a little faster than the 3-8's you are considering.

A properly designed megabase need never use a 4-way junction, only T-junctions. This will massively improve your throughput.

Also try to plan your train routes such that a train can sort of circle through your base and perform multiple tasks. A moving train that is empty takes up valuable UPS and rail capacity for no function. Balancing all the train schedules such that everything gets done can be an absolute nightmare mathematically, but it will help you squeeze a lot more UPS out of the base and a lot more throughput from a track of rails.
Last edited by Xtrafresh on Thu Sep 13, 2018 2:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Choosing train and track sizes

Post by Bauer » Thu Sep 13, 2018 2:07 pm

The resources needed to build and operate a train are negligible (basically 50 steel). Therefor, I recommend to NOT be parsimonious at this end.
I use a 1:1 engine:wagon relation for max throuput. I also use the design suggested by Xtrafresh dividing the engines front and end 50:50, e.g. 2-4-2, with all engines facing one direction. Uni-directional trains allow for simpler track and station designs with less traffic jam potential.

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Re: Choosing train and track sizes

Post by zOldBulldog » Thu Sep 13, 2018 6:30 pm

Bauer wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 2:07 pm
The resources needed to build and operate a train are negligible (basically 50 steel). Therefor, I recommend to NOT be parsimonious at this end.
I use a 1:1 engine:wagon relation for max throuput. I also use the design suggested by Xtrafresh dividing the engines front and end 50:50, e.g. 2-4-2, with all engines facing one direction. Uni-directional trains allow for simpler track and station designs with less traffic jam potential.
I am not too concerned about the cost of building trains. I am also not concerned about the space used by trains once I expand out of this initial base and begin working on a larger area. And I really like the idea of extra locomotives divided front and back for better acceleration.

But for the initial stage I am concerned about having enough space for stations without putting them over ore deposits (remember this is vanilla 0.16, not using RSO).

Given this thread's feedback I am leaning towards the following for the start area main line before-rocket (the very local ore trains will remain as described in OP).

- Locomotives point in the same direction.
- Design main line for 2-8-2 trains. Anybody have a high throughput intersection blueprint for these?
- Initially use 1-4-1 trains. I doubt I will have space for bigger trains that early.
- Solid fuel to start (provided by my early bootstrap base).

AND I will definitely use 2-4-2, 4-8-4 and 8-16-8 when I later expand.

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Re: Choosing train and track sizes

Post by evopwr » Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:25 pm

Is there a difference to 2-4-2 vs 1-4-3 ? There isn't is there?

The reason I ask, is you may start with say 1-4-1, setup all your stations etc, and then if you move to 2-4-2, you'll have to painfully move all of your train stops (or unload chests) to cater for the extra engine at the front.

Hence I've always just done 1 engine at the front, and later expanded extra inserters/chests when I've added additional carriages, and then no change required when adding extra engines to the back.

Additionally, placing train stops require straight tracks, so if you do like 4-8-4, then you'd (typically) need to do 12-length of straight track, to allow for front engines, and carriages. Back 4 engines can go around a corner with no impact. I realise you could do the train stop around a corner, but its a bit messier. But if you went 1-8-7 instead, then you only need 9-length of straight track - making it a much more compact design, with train stop and unload chests being close together.

Personally I've never gone any bigger than 1-3-1, and just added more trains instead. Plus max research in braking etc, and using rocket fuel to run the trains makes them super fast. More smaller trains allows for a much smoother supply to the base, rather than huge highs and lows in supply. But I've never had a serious mega base, biggest one I have does close to 1 rocket per min, and 1-3-1 trains worked fine for me, just lots of them, and lots of waiting areas etc. But nothing like some of the massive bases I've seen, which I'm assuming just adding more trains isn't a good solution.

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Re: Choosing train and track sizes

Post by Bauer » Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:00 am

evopwr wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:25 pm
Is there a difference to 2-4-2 vs 1-4-3 ? There isn't is there?
No. Except... 1-4-3 looks awful.

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Re: Choosing train and track sizes

Post by Jap2.0 » Fri Sep 14, 2018 10:17 pm

Bauer wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:00 am
evopwr wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:25 pm
Is there a difference to 2-4-2 vs 1-4-3 ? There isn't is there?
No. Except... 1-4-3 looks awful.
Also it's more difficult to design stations - with 2-4-2 you can count on there being 2 engines between the station and train cars, while with 1-4-3 you have to either design your schedule very carefully so that trains always arrive at the station in the same orientation or support both 1-4-3 and 3-4-1 trains.
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Re: Choosing train and track sizes

Post by zOldBulldog » Fri Sep 14, 2018 10:33 pm

Jap2.0 wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 10:17 pm
Bauer wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:00 am
evopwr wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:25 pm
Is there a difference to 2-4-2 vs 1-4-3 ? There isn't is there?
No. Except... 1-4-3 looks awful.
Also it's more difficult to design stations - with 2-4-2 you can count on there being 2 engines between the station and train cars, while with 1-4-3 you have to either design your schedule very carefully so that trains always arrive at the station in the same orientation or support both 1-4-3 and 3-4-1 trains.
They are talking of locomotives pointing in the same directions, there is only one orientation.

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Re: Choosing train and track sizes

Post by Jap2.0 » Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:11 pm

zOldBulldog wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 10:33 pm
Jap2.0 wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 10:17 pm
Bauer wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:00 am
evopwr wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:25 pm
Is there a difference to 2-4-2 vs 1-4-3 ? There isn't is there?
No. Except... 1-4-3 looks awful.
Also it's more difficult to design stations - with 2-4-2 you can count on there being 2 engines between the station and train cars, while with 1-4-3 you have to either design your schedule very carefully so that trains always arrive at the station in the same orientation or support both 1-4-3 and 3-4-1 trains.
They are talking of locomotives pointing in the same directions, there is only one orientation.
Oops, I misunderstood that - in that case, it shouldn't really matter as long as you have at least one engine in the front.
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Re: Choosing train and track sizes

Post by zOldBulldog » Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:24 pm

Jap2.0 wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:11 pm
zOldBulldog wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 10:33 pm
Jap2.0 wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 10:17 pm
Bauer wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:00 am
evopwr wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:25 pm
Is there a difference to 2-4-2 vs 1-4-3 ? There isn't is there?
No. Except... 1-4-3 looks awful.
Also it's more difficult to design stations - with 2-4-2 you can count on there being 2 engines between the station and train cars, while with 1-4-3 you have to either design your schedule very carefully so that trains always arrive at the station in the same orientation or support both 1-4-3 and 3-4-1 trains.
They are talking of locomotives pointing in the same directions, there is only one orientation.
Oops, I misunderstood that - in that case, it shouldn't really matter as long as you have at least one engine in the front.
Considering locomotives pointing in the same direction the trickier question is whether it is worth it to upgrade from the 1:2 ratio of 1-4-1 and 2-4-2 trains to the 1:1 ratio of 2-4-2 and 4-8-4.

Added acceleration and speed from more locomotives might improve the performance of busy intersections, but also use extra space which makes layout trickier and the chance of ending up with stations right on top of ore patches during the early game higher. So, the performance improvement has to be worthwhile in order to go to the 1:1 ratio. A 10 or 20% improvement might not be worth it, while a 50% or more would be. Unfortunately there isn't much information about that.

But... someone just mentioned that train acceleration and speed caps out at the 1:2 ratio, so a 1:1 ratio train like 2-4-2 (locos in the same direction) would not outperform a 1-4-1.

Because of that new information I am no longer considering 1:1 ratio trains. I am designing my main line as 4 tracks (2 each direction) and able to support the 2-8-2 trains I will use much later in the megabase stage, even if for now I'll use 1-4-1 trains. (all with locomotives pointing in the same direction) Stations... I am going to design for 1-4-1 or 2-8-2 depending on the purpose.
Last edited by zOldBulldog on Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Choosing train and track sizes

Post by Jap2.0 » Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:33 pm

Longer trains also have the benefit of reducing the relative amount of space taken up between trains (basically the equivalent of putting signals closer together without nuking performance).
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Re: Choosing train and track sizes

Post by Bauer » Mon Sep 17, 2018 5:51 am

It's also worthwile to mention that someone showed a design with 4 locomotives in the middle of the train (can't find the thread). They fit nicely in the loop of an U-shaped station design allowing for very compact builds with long trains.

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Re: Choosing train and track sizes

Post by eradicator » Mon Sep 17, 2018 7:50 am

Bauer wrote:
Mon Sep 17, 2018 5:51 am
It's also worthwile to mention that someone showed a design with 4 locomotives in the middle of the train [...]. They fit nicely in the loop of an U-shaped station [...].
With only 4 locos you have to unload some of the cargo inside the loop though. I considered that but found it undesirable, so i went 15-11-15 for my ore outposts. The side after the loop won't ever perfectly align with the other side though, neither visually nor technically (visuals for wagons after a loop are shifted away from the collision box, so you get some unexpected insterter placement requirements and fluid wagons will never connect.).
15-11-15.jpg
My screen isn't big enough to fit the whole train into one picture :p
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Re: Choosing train and track sizes

Post by zOldBulldog » Mon Sep 17, 2018 9:27 am

@bauer: That is an interesting concept, to have the locomotives in the middle so that the can sit in a curve. Might look weird but I can totally see the value.

@eradicator: Your 15-11-15 screenshot looks extremely efficient for several purposes, but it created more questions in my mind:

1) A single vanilla ore outpost could never fill such a train because the typical ore deposits are too small. So I assume there is far more to know about your ore strategy.
- Are you using a mod to create huge deposits, and if so which one?
- Or are you just driving so far away from spawn that the deposits are naturally huge, so big that you can fill that many wagons at once from a single deposit?
- Or does your train just load one or two wagons per outpost?

2) I noticed you unload just two belts per wagon (and even no belts on some wagons) . Knowing your experience with complex designs and some of the comments you made in other threads it is obviously an intentional choice to use fewer belts than is possible. Could you explain the thinking behind the choice?

3) I like very much how compact is the unloader you use in this screen shot. I can think of several situations where it would be perfect. Would you mind sharing the blueprint?

Thanks.

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Re: Choosing train and track sizes

Post by Bauer » Mon Sep 17, 2018 10:25 am

I also use very long trains for ore. Not the 15/11/15 concept but trains with 12 wagons. However, lets think about eradicators design for a second:

I firstly assume that a "typical" ore patch has 10 Mio. ressources.
(With productivity research, this boost up, but the range of ore patch sizes is more significant.)

1 wagon can load 40x50 = 2000 items
10 M ore patch = 5000 wagon loads

Hence, a 30 wagon train carries 0.6% of the ore patch and needs to travel 167 times.
Such a train concept hardly calls for multipe trains per ore station, right?

@zOldBulldog
What do you mean with "a single vanilla ore outpost could never fill such a train"?

BTW: I typically connect two large ore patches for one station (for longer life-time of the ore station). Each ore patch comes with 12 blue belts that merge before the ore station. Hence, I have 1 blue belt for every wagon. The ore is split into 4 belts and goes into crates before loading (directly form the 4 crates per wagon into the train).

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Re: Choosing train and track sizes

Post by zOldBulldog » Mon Sep 17, 2018 11:00 am

@bauer:

The typical ore patch I see in 0.16 vanilla in the early biter-free area is under 1mil. A lot are in the hundreds of K. Not many are multiple millions. I tried all kinds of settings and the best I could find is average ore patches of 2-3 mil. I can only imagine 10mil "average" deposits far away from spawn, something I am not likely to see until the Megabase stage (but then, that is probably when I will use such big trains). I asked the question because even with 1-2 ore trains that unload in seconds at the base, they usually end up waiting and waiting for ore at the mine.

To cope with that nuisance I started running longer belts to multiple ore patches, but I still can't imagine filling a 30 wagon train quickly. I would be happy if I could at least get enough ore into the chests so that the train could be filled at 6 stack inserted speeds when it returns from it unload run. BTW, I typically run 2 trains per mine loading station.

If I really got 10 mil ore patches in average, and got 167 loads of 3 wagons each, that would be quite fine... If those loads happen in a reasonable time. But if it took 10 to 30 minutes to load (what I am guessing would take to mine that much ore) then my base would starve. But I am probably missing some important detail, right?

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Re: Choosing train and track sizes

Post by Xtrafresh » Mon Sep 17, 2018 12:30 pm

Using longer trains makes for simpler designs in some cases, and reduced load on intersections.

To also simplify the stations, you could make a long train that is basically 4 (or more, who's counting?) 1-4-1 trains connected to eachother, resulting in a 1-4-2-4-2-4-2-4-1. The station would be a 4-wagon unloader, and the train can move over 6 spots every time the currently aligned wagons are empty/full.

Pro: better intersection and station performance (basically you are sending 1-4-1 trains through with zero space between)
Con: space usage. Stackers, buffers for intersections, buffers before and after each station will be quite huge.
Con: These large trains are not as flexible as separate 1-4-1 or 2-8-2 trains would be.

As for load speeds, in the megabase phase, the high productivity bonus ensures that mines can produce ore REALLY fast. 4 mines inserting directly into the train will fill up a wagon significantly faster than 12 inserters ever could.

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Re: Choosing train and track sizes

Post by zOldBulldog » Mon Sep 17, 2018 12:38 pm

Xtrafresh wrote:
Mon Sep 17, 2018 12:30 pm
As for load speeds, in the megabase phase, the high productivity bonus ensures that mines can produce ore REALLY fast. 4 mines inserting directly into the train will fill up a wagon significantly faster than 12 inserters ever could.
Space science mining productivity bonus, duuuh!!! Why didn't I think of that?!!! I have even used it in the past.

Thanks for pointing it out.

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Re: Choosing train and track sizes

Post by eradicator » Mon Sep 17, 2018 1:55 pm

Xtrafresh wrote:
Mon Sep 17, 2018 12:30 pm
Pro: better intersection and station performance (basically you are sending 1-4-1 trains through with zero space between)
Eer, no. As far as intersections are concerned a long train is not the same as several short trains. Because it can obviously not create a gap in the middle like seperate trains could. Intersections don't behave differently just because you changed the order of locos and wagons :p.

@OP
As there seems to be some confusion: The above picture is a loading station at an ore outpose. Not the unloader. The unloader is the topic of the old [Experiment] Unloading 4 compressed blue belts per wagon. thread. This is also why there are not that many input belts, because the outpost does not (need to) fill the train at maximum speed. I use one train per outpost because these large trains still have more bandwidth than then whole outpost. I don't know how long exactly it takes to fill a train when it comes back, but it's not too long, i'd guess 5 mins tops. Keep in mind that the outpost can still fill it's buffer while the train is en-route. So as long as the outpost doesn't stop mining due to full buffer that's enough for me.

Q: A single vanilla ore outpost could never fill such a train because the typical ore deposits are too small.
A: You just need to move further out. As i mentioned before i tend to build one long straight rail line into a single direction. The outpost on the picture is a 30M field at x=4400, but there are also several 50M+ fields in the vacinity. No mods used btw. In 0.15 i measured train speed once and it took about 10 minutes for a round trip from x=0 to x=10000, with nuclear fuel it should be a bit faster. But i've read of several people that simply build their final (mega-)base directly next to those large ore field, there is after all no rule to build your new base close to the start.

Here's a quick blueprint of the outpost including some drills. You'll have to seperate the unloader from the mine yourself ;).
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