Empire Express Deluxe 4+

Model Railroad Design

Harry Haddon

    • 4.1 • 8 Ratings
    • $29.99



Design your model railroad with Empire Express. Empire Express harnesses the ease of use and power of your Mac so you can quickly, easily, and accurately design your model railroad empire.

Designing a layout is as simple as dragging track from the catalog palette to the plan window. Track pieces are automatically aligned to create accurate, kink-free track connections. Flex track can be easily bent to create smooth curves which meet your minimum radius standard.

Included in the Empire Express catalog are some of the most popular brands of track (see our web site for a complete list). The tool palette includes line, rectangle, circle, polygon, and text tools which you can use to draw the layout room, structures, and scenery.

* Easy to learn and easy to use *
Empire Express uses the macOS conventions you are familiar with making it easy to learn. Empire Express has a simple and efficient set of tools and commands that makes it easy to design your layout.

* Multiple undo and redo *
If you change your mind or make a mistake, you can undo the changes you've made to your plan. You can undo your actions one at a time all the way back to the last time you opened the document. If you decide you don’t want to Undo your action after all, you can use Redo. You can choose Revert to quickly restore your plan to the last saved version.

* Catalog palette for quick selection of track *
You do not have to navigate through complicated dialogs to place track in your plan. Simply drag the desired type of track from the catalog palette to your plan.

* Convenient measurement window *
The Measure window is a compact window that shows the mouse position, the ruler tool measurements, and the car capacity of the currently selected track. The car capacity feature allows you to quickly calculate how many cars will fit in a siding or yard. Just select the tracks and read the car capacity. 

* Powerful Inspector window *
You can use the Inspector window to examine and change information for the selected objects in a plan. And you can set information for more than one object at a time. For example, you could select multiple objects and set the color for all of them at once.

* Smooth flex track *
With Empire Express you’ll get smooth, constant-radius curves that meet your minimum radius setting. When you connect flex track between two other pieces of track, Empire Express creates a variable-radius curve to make a smooth transition between the two pieces.

* Additional features *
- Rotate, flip, group, and lock objects.
- Set the color and pattern for drawing and filling objects.
- Choose style, color, and alignment of text and more. Even spell-check.
- Parts list shows all of the track in your plan.
- Zoom in and out to different plan scales.
- And more…

* Designed for the Mac *
Empire Express was designed specifically for the Mac — it is not a converted Windows program — and supports the standard Mac features such as copy and paste and drag and drop. It has the Mac look and feel that you prefer.

* Runs on a range of Mac models *
Even if you don’t have the latest Mac or a lot of memory or hard disk space, you can probably still run Empire Express. Version 2.3 will run on any Mac with macOS 10.9 or later.

IF YOU ALREADY HAVE EMPIRE EXPRESS 2.1 OR EARLIER ON YOUR MAC and want to purchase Empire Express from the App Store, please see our web site for instructions.

What’s New

Version 2.3.1

If you have pictures in your Empire Express plans, open them with this version before upgrading to macOS 10.15 Catalina. Empire Express 2.3.1 will convert pictures that are incompatible with Catalina to a compatible format. It also contains interface improvements for Mojave and Catalina.

Ratings and Reviews

4.1 out of 5
8 Ratings

8 Ratings

OR Rick ,

Gets me in the game of designing my ideal train layout.

The Empire Express design tool is perfect for someone like me who is just beginning a return to the model railroading hobby. Its not perfect, but it inexpensively gets me in the game of designing my ideal train layout. One important element is that this is Mac compatible software and can be run on operating systems going all the way back to OS 10.9 (several pricier options out there are limited to 10.13+). For me, running OS 10.11 and 10.12, just nothing out there especially at this price. I have used several higher-end CAD and graphics design tools and could certainly adapt one to this application. However, starting with the Basic version (available for free) you quickly see how simple this sofware is to use. What could be more simple than grabbing a piece of track from an existing catalog of Manufacturer’s inventory, dragging and dropping it in my layout and have it automatically connect and orient itself within the existing plan. Fast and easy. Part of the design process is looking through the multitude of layout plans available in books, magazines and on the internet and “stealing" the aspects you like and trying to fit those into your own design. Try it, if it doesn’t fit, try something else. Tweek, re-tweek and re-tweek again. Perfect tool for this process.

I found some glitches and annoyances but nothing terrible: Options for line weights are currently limited to single and double. How about a dashed line option (who doesn’t have a tunnel on their layout depicted that way?). The designated shortcut keys for Zoom In/Out (Command </>) don’t work for me nor do the Mac standard (Command +/-) so must select from the menu for every in or out zoom. Planning could really benefit from an object alignment tool (designers like their layouts to appear perfect). The polygon tool is very useful but if you mess up the keystrokes on the last segment to close the polygon, I haven’t found a way to go back and complete the process of closing it. Not a big deal to redraw a 4, 5, 6-sided polygon but when modeling a water feature with 100+ segments, it would be nice to select a tool from the menu to close the polygon instead of redrawing the whole thing. Finally, for users with other capabilities, an Export As tool with some common options (pdf, dwg, jpg) could be helpful. But its certainly very useful as is.

Developer Response ,

Thank you for your review. For dashed lines, you can choose a different pen pattern in the Appearance pane of the Inspector. Zoom In/Out require holding down both the Shift and Command keys while pressing the comma or period key (on US keyboards). Polygon editing improvements are on our todo list. To export a plan as PDF, choose Print and then the Save as PDF option in the Print window. You can also Copy items from a plan and Paste them into many other applications that accept PDF on the Clipboard.

jt of Marion ,

Great and inexpensive!

I’ve been using Empire Express since version 1 in 2003. I have designed and built many layouts, ranging from small shelf switching layouts to multi-level basement filling empires using this software. It is fast to learn, easy to use and accurate! While it does not have the 3D rendering some of the more expensive programs have, I have never found that to be a hindrance. You can start from a blank canvas and quickly build up, re-work and modify benchwork and trackwork with speed and ease. Creating custom tools for trackwork and buildings is easy as well and I have built up my own library of tools to use along those that come with the software. If you need to design trackplans (or even draw a CAD plan of an existing layout), I highly recommend this program!

BSevierKona ,

Inexpensive and limited

This is a very basic program do to limited track planning. Makes very poor use of MacOS functionality, being basically a drawing program with no CAD features. It does have libraries of various track and other placeable objects, but doing freeform track routing is painful. Does not have object filling that I could find, text is not rotatable, and other drawing features do not always do what you expect on the Mac.
For what it is, it's adequate, did the job I needed, and a simple learning curve, but would not use it for a large layout. Good for small, very basic planning.

Developer Response ,

Thank you for your review. Empire Express was intentionally designed not to use the traditional CAD model, which can have a very steep learning curve and be very un-Mac like. Instead it uses a simpler, easier-to-learn drag and drop model. We always strive to follow Apple’s human interface guidelines and to use built-in Mac functionality in Empire Express. Please let us know the specific ways you think Empire Express could make better use of MacOS functionality. We welcome your suggestions.

Object filling, which uses the MacOS color picker, is available for rectangles, circles, arcs, and polygons. See Empire Express’s built-in help for more info.

App Privacy

The developer, Harry Haddon, has not provided details about its privacy practices and handling of data to Apple. For more information, see the developer’s privacy policy.

No Details Provided

The developer will be required to provide privacy details when they submit their next app update.


  • Family Sharing

    Up to six family members can use this app with Family Sharing enabled.