What can ProTrak do?


ProTrak is all about operating as much like the prototype as is possible.  You can

  • move traffic – move cars and trains with a purpose
  • use the same paper work the prototype uses – no “model thoughts”, no apologies
  • model the entire car cycle and everything that affects track capacity
  • immerse yourself and your friends in real railroading!


ProTrak helps you: 

  • operate prototypically
    • Use train lists and yard lists -“switchlists“- just like those railroaders use
    • Data, railroad procedures, tariffs and rules… knowledge built-in and transferred to you about how the prototype actually works.  So yourmodel is realistic.
    • The only prototype-based system in the hobby!
    • Still the only true real time operations computer-based in the hobby!
  • plan and simulate your railroad   
    • Design your railroad for operations before you lay the first tie
    • Get perfect operations the first time
    • Answers for: yard thru-put, how much staging, how many sidings, how much industry, and more
  • control your railroad
    • Signaling system in software with Grapevine hardware
    • Analog and digital fast-clocks, highway flashers, hotbox displays
    • DCC: command station in software drives Grapevine DCC
    • Only integrated prototype operations and hardware control program in the hobby!


ProTrak Features

While this listing is comprehensive, it is in no way complete.  Included are the features of the most interest to model railroaders.


All names are user definable,  e.g., “switchlist”can be changed to “train journal”

All databases, e.g., locomotives, customers, stations, can be added to or changed


  1. Switchlists (Train Journal, Consist,…)

Switchlists look exactly like real thing, they are complete, easy to read and easy to use.

A switchlist shows

  • train/crew identity information
  • assigned power/caboose

A switchlist shows

  • current train/car data
  • can show cuts of cars (only first/last cars)
  • pickups and setouts

A switchlist shows

  • total cars, number of pickups, empties/loads
  • train length in feet, weight in tons
  • train dynamics, potential for car stringlining calculated (freely use lightweight (2 oz) cars)
  • train calculated speed (calculated from actual cars in train, engine power, grades on route)
  • tractive effort (TE), required and available in consist
  • need for helper

A switchlist can be reprinted with corrections


  1. Train Blocking

Train Blocking can define which blocking strategies to use, for example, the train can be blocked for:

  • car destination
  • blocking for facing and trailing switching
  • car types (both in-train position and adjacent cars)
  • hazardous materials (load empty sensitive)
  • train dynamics (car lightweight and load weight sensitive)
  • car through routing across all subdivisions


  1. Yardmaster

ProTrak features a prototype-based Yard Information System which

  • provides inbound and outbound lists
  • prints current yardmasters’ lists
  • recalls printing of yardmaster lists
  • allows delayed sorting at yards possible
  • specifies cutoff time for cars assigned to trains
  • departure list of trains printed for each yard


  1. Operating Session

Operating sessions are dynamic, always changing, and synchronized across the entire system.  Here are a few highlights of an operating session:

  • correct switchlists during session
  • car movements are self-correcting
  • fully automated car movements ( user reporting)
  • outcome depends on operating decisions
  • trains can be called when ready
  • trains can be called and run totally out of order
  • trains can be annulled and combined
  • change car routing during session
  • call extras during session
  • call helpers as needed
  • change car routing during session
  • update car locations if needed
  • transfer loads during session
  • real time clock on screen, clock stops, and starts later at same time, clock can be reset to any time
  • computer clock drives display-clocks
  • weigh-scaling can be simulated, working weigh-scaling can be used
  • TWC/DTC or CTC on screen dispatcher
  • drives signaling system
  • drives DCC

“Session” can continue indefinitely, rolling across days and days

  • optional feature if your railroad will support the train movements
  • cars get unloaded and reloaded


  1. End of Session

You can run either continuous or fixed sessions.  Continuous sessions continue for seven days a week, 24 hours a day – just like the prototype.

Fixed sessions can run for a 24 hour period or weeks.

At the end of the session, you can

  • print reports of car positions after session
  • print reports of car load status
  • print report of cars at industry spurs for checking
  • Generate a General Manager’s Daily summary

Ø  summary of car usage and movements

Ø  summary on train-miles and ton- miles

Ø  simulation of rail wear and maintenance

Change car location during session and between sessions


  1. Trains

Key train characteristics are

  • trains can move across subdivisions
  • trains can be turns
  • reverse route check on cars picked up
  • trains can turn in mid-route staging
  • staging-to-staging routing possible
  • yards worked by train can be specified
  • train length by cars can be set
  • power and caboose can be pre-assigned
  • power can be assigned to helpers
  • power and consists can be changed during session
  • train maximum speed can be set
  • train day-of-week schedule can be set
  • call time can be set
  • time-at-station can be set
  • travel time calculated, with acceleration
  • location of station on siding can be set
  • automatic train line- up calculation
  • extra cars in excess of power set off
  • “doubling the hill” can be scheduled
  • usual extra sections can be scheduled
  • trains-at-yards connections maps included
  • trains can have more than one name/symbol (commuter) – up to 15 symbols plus “/” symboling
  • manual reblocking and car assignments
  • can define:
    • unit trains
    • by commodity
    • by car kind (exclude and include)
    • intermodal/autorack trains
    • can define traffic for a train
    • switching and road trains
    • trains to staging ‘rotate’ to exiting train
      • rotate train
      • rotate only power


  1. Train Speeds: Railroad Profile and Grades
  • grades and distances defined
  • train speeds calculated for timetables
  • train travel times calculated
    • in fast clock hr:min
    • in actual min:seconds
  • automatic stringline diagram calculation
  • on-screen, mouse-driven stringline diagram calculation
  • train speed calculated for command control, DCC


  1. Train Directory
  • has a procedures or jobs directory
  • train name can be defined (marketing name different from symbol)


  1. Stations and Subdivisions
  • up to 50 of stations (passing tracks) on core segment
  • subdivisions defined in same way as prototype
  • railroad can have up to 10 other subdivisions
  • up to 50 stations per subdivision
  • up to a total of 550 of stations (passing tracks)
  • for each subdivision, define
  • clearance plate
  • locomotive restrictions on subdivision
  • maximum car weight on subdivision
  • rail type (bolted or welded)


  1. Interchanges
  • interchanges defined as per railroad rules
  • clearance plate for each interchange track
  • “live” interchange (between actual trains) or “simulated” stub interchange


  1. Staging Tracks
  • up to 125 staging tracks
  • multiple trains per staging track at same time (up to 3)
  • up to 375 trains in staging
  • staging track length mapped for occupancy
  • can have defined industries located in staging (customers with waybills/car-orders)
  • clearance plate for each track
  • “active” staging and manual “fiddling” supported


  1. Industries/Customers and Spurs
  • can have multiple spots on a single spur
  • can have more than one car destination on a spur
  • each industry can have more than one spur
  • same industry, with same name, can have multiple sidings and spots
  • prototype style car spots used
    •  you can define spot format
  • spur clearance plate and curvature can be specified
  • multiple switching trains at each spot
  • multiple switches per session
  • timed unloading at a spur – to the minute
  • blocking pattern specified
  • available spur length mapped by feet
  • number of cars in spur also mapped
  • industry library standard, external data sources supplied or possible


  1. Commodity Data (Standard Transportation Commodity Code, and Waybill Sample Analyses data)
  • full STCC (Standard Transportation Commodity Code) data included
    • this is the actual railroad commodity data file
    • commodity data can be added to by user
  • uses STCC and related loading restrictions
    • typical loadweight data included
  • commodity cuft to weight data correlation
  • AAR contaminated loads data included
  • rates and loading tariffs included
  • car kind for commodity data supplied


  1. Bills of Lading and Waybills
  • waybill library possible
    • active and inactive waybills
  • waybills include weight, cubic capacity
  • waybills include load quality
  • restrictions: for speed, train blocking and marshalling, ….
  • liveloads for waybills, with liveload weight
  • seasonal waybills (with computer clock)
  • every other “X” day waybills (frequency)
  • in-transit setoffs and loading
  • waybills include transportation charges
    • financial effects optional
    • ratemaker for rates included
    • era sensitive rates
  • waybills printed, in each line of switchlist
  • calculates and loads waybills for
    • locomotive sand
    • diesel fuel
    • steam locomotive coal
    • steam locomotive fuel oil


  1. Car orders and Loading Cars
  • you specify and control car orders
  • you control industry shipping pattern
  • you control and specify staging traffic
  • car loading follows AAR car loading rules
  • loading time set by AAR demurrage rules
  • per-diem effects
  • demurrage and per-diem era sensitive
  • number of cars specified
  • day of week shipping pattern possible
  • compares ordered cars to spur capacity
  • (NOT random car orders)
  • (NO requirement for balance between consignees and shippers)


  1. Car Routing
  • automatic car routing when empty
  • automatic car routing to special tracks
  • cleaning and rip tracks
  • icing tracks
  • hog washing
  • cattle feed and rest tracks


  1. Empty Car Routing to Home road and home region
  • automatic empty foreign car routing
  • railroad listing file used for routing
  • actual railroad connections data included
  • era-specific connections possible
  • region-specific connections possible
  • era sensitive car service rules included


  1. Freight Cars
  • cars can have private reporting marks (—X)
    • private owners list for other reporting marks
  • prototype bearing weight limits applied
  • calculates car capacity
  • era-sensitive bearing sizes
  • car length used for spurs and staging
  • clearance plate compared to industry, staging tracks
    • controls placement of overheight cars
  • car quality (A, B, C, Z) mapped
  • specified “When empty return to”
  • load-type restrictions applied
  • car pools can be set up
    • pool type automatically selected for user
  • car model-weight used in stringlining
  • inactive car list
  • can bad-order a car during session
  • car load/empty shown on screen


  1. Units, Engines and Locomotives
  • steam or diesel-electric locomotives
  • DCC ready
    • user can specify decoder and addresses
    • user can adjust all CVs
  • user can specify a diesel lease fleet
  • horsepower and weight specified
    • used in speed calculations
  • airbrake schedule defined
    • brake schedule used in speed calculations
  • dynamic brakes defined
    • used in speed calculations
  • steam engine TE calculator
  • 30/90 day inspections scheduled
  • user can record model data on couplers, motor,….
  • diesel-electric unit database included
  • extensive geared locomotive data included


  1. Caboose
  • caboose number can have special symbols
  • plate for clearance on subdivisions
  • can set restricted to subdivision


  1. Intermodal
  • intermodal and van/container traffic


  1. Passenger Cars
  • passenger traffic and waybills
  • passenger car switching
  • can use RDC (Rail Diesel Cars, Budd Cars)


  1. Operating Crew
  • crew management functions
  • crew qualification
  • operations session optimization functions
    • design to keep all crew busy all the time
  • crew sign board printed


  1. Operating Conditions
  • variable operating conditions weather, track class,
  • fixed date or date rolling with computer calendar
  • timetable direction defined
  • user can define jargon labels (caboose, town…)
  • user can define look of switchlist
  • user can define:
    • warning messages printed
    • blocking applied
    • types of helpers


  1. Operating Decisions
  • operating decisions based on finances
  • waybills include rates
  • actual rate data built in
  • Financial Summary
  • session Counter reset button
  • user defined minimum carload rates
  • user defined Car Service Directives
  • user defined era, date
  • data included for eras from 1920 to present
  • some data included for eras from 1865 to 1920


  1. Miscellaneous Functions and Extras
  • copy data function
  • full inventory of cars, engines
  • full inventory of books, photographs, collectibles
  • printing of all data
  • sorted printing of data
  • prints maintenance workorders for rolling stock
  • spiral easement calculator included


  1. Limits on Size of Datafiles
  • maximum number of trains/session: 100 jobs, unlimited number of trains per session
  • maximum number of cars in trains: 150
  • maximum number of active spots: 1500 (can be increased)
  • any number of railroads on disk: unlimited


  1. Control
  • controls signals, for all modes
  • controls DCC


  1. Experience
  • software dates from
    • as ProTrak (32 bit for Windows) 1999
    • as ProTrak (16 bit, For DOS) 1988
    • predecessor software (RDC/SW/GP) 1983
    • earliest ancestor 1972


  • Realism
  • Includes on- line prototype databases
  • Totally adheres to prototype practice (except for using staging tracks)
  • Will show you and teach you actual railroading