Interchange Track

Why don't more designs have an Interchange track?

What is an Interchange Track (in the prototype)... in the modelling world....

What are the benefits of having one on my layout? 

Staging and Interchanges....

Operations and Interchanges....

Many (all?) of us have started with a simple loop of track.  This is what comes in all those starter sets, and this is what many of use have going around a christmas tree.  For many, many people, that loop of track is enough.  Building a small town or diorama and having the train run around the outside 'scratches the itch' for them.    But for many others, we need something else.  We want that "model layout".    We want to model a railroad (or a small section of railroad at least).     There are three elements necessary to if you want to model a real-world railroad, because these three things are on every railroad: 

Prototype Interchanges

Trains very rarely run  around in circles... they travel from point to point.  And along that travel, they are picking up and delivering goods to the industries that they serve.  But very few railroads serve every need of the industries along that railroad.   For example, a railroad might serve a steel mill, but it probably does not also serve the mine that brings in the ore.  Or  the railroad could deliver goods to a grocery warehouse, but very unlikely that the railroad serves all the different companies that make/grow the food to be delivered to the warehouse.  And since railroads don't tend to run on eachothers tracks, this is where an Interchange spot is needed.

The railroad that serves the mine will haul the ore to an interchange location (and usually pick up the empty ore cars left there from the last run).  Then the railroad the serves the steel mill will pick bring the empty cars from the last run to leave and grab the full cars to deliver and take to the mill.   The same is going to hold true for almost every industy on a railroad.  The interchange track is what connects the industries along one railroad to all the industries on another railroad. 

         So you have your loop of track, and then you add your industry on a spur.  Your industry could be anything: a steel mill, a goods shed (freight warehouse), a factory that makes widgets, a passenger station, etc.