One of the key tasks for the forthcoming week is to start properly evaluating Railroad & Co vs JMRI. So far the hardest part is working out which railroad & co products I think I need. A readers of previous posts will know I’m seriously exploring layout automation, and reviewing my previous assumption that Railroad and company was too expensive to consider.

I’ve downloaded a few manuals from the Railroad & Co website, and so far I’ve drawn the following conclusions:

I don’t need Trainprogrammer; Decoderpro 3 looks much better to me, so I’ll stick with it. Plus Trainprogrammer wouldn’t allow me to plug the sprog & programming track into my Mac Book away from the railway room.

Traincontroller Bronze has quite a bit of functionality Ive come to regard as basic, and use already in JMRI, even without any train automation missing from its spec. (Fast clock,  ability to have more than one panel, ) so I’ll need at least silver. It was a struggle to work this out until buried within the RR & Co site I eventually found a table comparing Bronze Silver & Gold buried halfway down this page and needing a mouse click to be displayed

I also use an iphone as handheld controller, and intend to run panels on a browser in a second computer or ipad. Even traincontroller Gold doesn’t include this, it seems I need a further RR & Co package, Smarthand Mobile.

So it looks as though, if I went down the Railroad & Co route I’d need to spend at least £300 for the following:

  • Traincontroller Silver – 329Eur
  • Smarthand mobile – 30Eur

I’m still not sure that I wouldn’t need the Gold version, but for now I’ll assume not until a good reason comes along. To put £300 into perspective, that’s more than I paid for MS Office 2010. I’m also concerned that all the Railroad software was released in 2009, and is 3 years old, is there a new release just around the corner that might add to the cost? The price list indicates upgrading from old versions of software is not a low cost affair. I’ve also always fancied messing around with integrating sound with operations, JMRI has this built in, it looks like a further 130Eur with Railroad & Co.

So the question remains, is Railroad & Co worth an investment of minimum £300 possibly rising to  £600 over the JMRI package that is free.

Rather than try building my own layout in RR & Co, I’m going to build the sample layout in the RR&Co manuals in both JMRI and RR & Co and see what the difference really is.