The February issue of Model Railroader magazine has an interesting article in its "Step by Step" section about operations. I was just curious as to what anyone thought about this article. Step One Mapping your railroad. The author suggests making a system map for your railroad. He says it's especially important if your layout doesn't model a specific place because a system map will give reference to your railroad's connections with other lines. Step Two Industrial Analysis. Make a chart and figure out the shipping/receiving requirements for the industries on your layout. Town, industry name, inbound/outbound, car type, material, and frequency are listed categories. The author notes the importance of considering waste. A furniture factory for example, would have to get rid of carloads of scrap wood and sawdust from time to time. Step Three Switch lists. They work particularly well with small layouts and allow you to track which cars are going where, and when. By consulting your industrial analysis, you can determine which cars from your inventory will be making the trip as you walk around your layout. Step Four Car cards and waybills. Filling out switch lists can get old after awhile, and this is an alternate system. You make the cards once and you're done. The cards follow the car and are cycled (flipped over) when it reaches its destination. This is repeated until the car ends up at its starting point.