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Run Two Trains on One Track

Two trains run on a single-track loop, infrared sensors automatically keep them separated.

If you have an exhibit or display layout, why settle for one continuously running train when you can have two trains? This page shows how to run two model trains on a single loop of track in the same direction.
To see how to run two trains in opposite directions on a single track, see the next page.

The first method uses one infrared train detector to control power to an electrically isolated section of track. It works for trains with a single engine. The isolated section should be slightly longer than the longest locomotive used on the layout, plus stopping distance. For 3-rail layouts, isolate the center rail.
two trains one sensor
In this diagram, the red and blue trains travel clockwise around the loop. The blue train is stopped, its locomotive is on the isolated section of track. The red train is moving, and is approaching the train detector.
When the red train activates the detector, the detector turns on a relay, which in turn switches power to the isolated section.
As long as the detector is sensing the red train, the isolated track section will have power, so the blue train can move far enough to exit the isolated section.
The two trains continue moving clockwise. When the red train reaches the isolated track section, it will stop until the blue train reaches the detector.
But -- what if the blue train fails to start after the relay turns on? The red train will come around and crash into the rear of the blue train!
The next diagram shows how to install a safety section to protect the stopped train:
train protection
A third insulated rail joint has been added, creating another isolated track section. Power to this section is controlled by Relay #2.
A second detector has been added, with its sensor positioned to detect a locomotive that is stopped in the original isolated track section. When detector #2 senses a train, it turns on relay #2, which turns off power to the safety track. If the red train enters the safety track section, it will stop until the blue train has cleared the sensor for detector #2.
See the detector installation examples page for tips for installing infrared train detectors.
Want to automatically run two trains in opposite directions on a single track loop? Click here for the next page.

MRD1 Infrared Train Detector
• Includes one infrared sensor pair (IrLED & photo-transistor)


DPDT relay
• with screw terminals and indicator light


Accessory power supply
• Regulated 9vdc, 650mA, slim plug-in


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