This page provides resources and guidance to layout designers to assist them in the preparation of HOTRAK layout designs.
Click on the icons or bolded text to link to the desired documents. 

Layout Design Resources


XTRAKCAD is the layout design software used by the club. It is a free program downloaded from the internet by clicking the computer icon above. The club offers XTRAKCAD training when needed to train new layout designers. If you would like to become a layout designer contact the Op Session Coordinator.

Parameter Files

The club maintains a set of 6 XTRAKCAD files called HOTRAK Module Parameter Files which you will need to download and install before being able to design layouts. Download them to your computer by clicking the folder icon above then right clicking each file and select download from the Google Drive folder. The instructions to load the parameter files can be found here.

Updating Parameter Files

Need to add a recently built module to a paramter file, click the icon above for the step-by-step process.

Training Plan

This is an overview of the process used to train new layout designers.


Looking for layout design inspiration? Check out the various types of layouts that have been designed in the past.

Layout Design Documents

Design Handbook

This document contains layout design guidelines and principles for the development of a layout design, without hindering the designer’s imagination. Good layout design ensures that all can run trains effectively and have fun.

Layout Design Timing

The layout design process has many steps and must start weeks before an operating weekend. This Google doc uses the operating weekend date to automatically calculate the due dates for the various design activities.

Master Module List

Knowing which club and private modules exist and keeping track of their availability can be difficult. This document is the master module list and can be used to track availability.

Operating Design Documents

From this link you can access archived operating design documents like call for cars, freight and passenger engineer instructions etc to allow people to look back at other layouts to see how operations were handled in different situations (a learning opportunity). It also serves as templates for new layouts.

Layout Design Flow

1 Operating Dates Set

At least 8 operating sessions are set 12 months in advance at the AGM from mid September to the following May. These dates are published on the Web Site when confirmed with the venue as a "member only" accessible document..

2 Layout Designer Identified

The Operating Session Co-ordinator selects Layout Designers for each op session. The Designer enters the session’s set up date into the layout design timing document to determine his specific design due dates.

3 Call for Modules

A call for member-owned module availability will be issued by the Layout Designer at least five weeks (35 days) prior to the operating session set-up date with a reply from module owners requested 5 days later.

4 First Layout Draft

25 days (three and ½ weeks) before the set-up a first draft of the Layout Plan should be distributed to the Ops Group with comments and suggestions requested within 4 days.

5 Revised Layout Draft

18 days (2 ½ weeks) before the set-up date, a revised layout plan for final comment is sent to the Ops Group with replies requested within 3 days.

6 Final Layout Design

14 days (2 weeks) before the set-up date, the layout plan is finalized and published on the HOTRAK Website with a notice to Members.

7 Freight Operations

The Chief of Operations then designs the operating session's freight operations and issues a call for freight car type and quantity required about 7 days before the set-up date.

8 Passenger Operations

Passenger Operations are designed at the same time.

9 Set Up Foreman

The Set-up Foreman issues an email requesting information about the timing of the arrival of modules at the venue in order to optimally schedule assembly and power / loconet installation..

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