So, after watching others go through switching operations on my layout as well as other layouts and wondering why their effort did not always minimize the number of moves and the distance traveled, I came up with a little switching puzzle that is somewhat based on my layout. The intent is to get operators to to think several moves ahead. I should point out that I do not particularly enjoy operating trains and I do not claim to be an expert when it comes to train switching operations. The last time I did anything equivalent to a switching puzzle was probably 30 years ago. It was on John Allen's time saver switching module at a PCR NMRA event. I did okay but only after watching others attempt to beat a record time. 

In the switching puzzle below I've chosen to evaluate performance based on how often the locomotive picks up and drops of a car or cars and how many times the train is on the Main Line. The branch sidings are several miles away from the yard. Trains cannot park on the Main. The intent is to get the cars by color into the designated yard track, as in red car goes to A, etc.  Obviously, you want to minimize the number of moves and times on the Main. For this exercise we will not count the number of times a switch has to be thrown but that always adds time to an operation. The locomotive is a switch engine. Treat it as there is no front or back. Assume that the top of the page is North. Also, when in the yard, assume that the front of the train is north and the back of the train is south.

Switching Puzzle.2.jpg