Considering the current state of things with high fuel prices for heating and cooling, high real estate taxes, insurance costs, and general economic downturn, many people will be downsizing their homes, condos, or apartments. Consequently layouts will be smaller, in most cases, if hobbyists have room at all for a layout. I would like to see a manufacturer like Bachmann, Lionel, MTH, or Atlas, come up with a version of track that combines the Super O center rail* and the built-in roadbed of Lionel's Fastrack, but in a diameter of about O27 (27 inches measured from outside rail) and O24. The larger diameter curves should be included although I wouldn't need them. Why go as tight as O24? Because you can do more in a smaller space with tighter curves. And many pieces of equipment will handle O24 for a short distance if not entirely. Some locos can't handle the tight curves, but most small diesel switchers and the classic steam Porter and docksider-type locos can manage the tight curves with ease. Don't forget the small motorized items handle O24 curves well! And manufacturers could make equipment that runs on tighter curves just for these situations.
So a smaller track plan is the solution for space-challenged hobbyists. It is a solution for smaller living spaces, seasonal layouts, and temporary set-ups. My current practice is to use the GarGraves flexible track when I need a small track plan with tight curves. It is a little tricky to bend GarGraves in such a tight curve, but like many things in the hobby, with a little experience and practice it becomes easier. But what a pleasure it would be to have good-looking sectional track in these tight curves, with the roadbed built in! K-line does manufacture the Super Streets in tight curves, so it isn't impossible for a new track system to be developed. I could use O24 sectional track for my temporary set-ups on the coffee table, dining room table, or an end table, for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, perhaps even for the Forth of July! Presently I am using the GarGraves permanently affixed to 1/4" plywood for some seasonal set-ups, but it takes a lot of time to make these things in the GarGraves and plywood. The beauty of sectional track is that you can dismantle then store things in a small box, and convert circles to ovals or figure-eight track configurations easily. While I am dreaming, lets hope some nice switches can go along with the new track system. Even on my large basement layout I could fit in more with tighter curves. At least make Fastrack in O27 curves. The tighter curve could be the determining factor in having a layout at all!
So smaller living spaces mean smaller layouts & set-ups with tighter curves! Seems simple enough!
*Super O track, by Lionel, was realistic-looking sectional track with the center rail being only a very thin blade,
the blade being barely visible at arm's length, developed in the mid 1950s.
Yes it was great looking track, although some hobbyists reported center rail roller wear on older equipment.