People who know how model railways are made may be able to sketch out a layout, and go on to construct it with little by way of planning. I was new to railways, and couldn't do that: I needed a plan. That was undertaken at several levels.
- A simple sketch drawn to scale allowed me to choose a mechanical layout to get the most railway into the space available.
- A railway CAD program was used to get an accurate track plan, and from that an accurate baseboard design
- Careful records on spreadsheets have been used for the electrical side of the house
- This website holds the locomotive roster!
So, definitely not "once tool for everything" - instead I think I used what was to hand in sensible ways. The outcome is a robust understanding of what I've made, and records to support maintenance long into the future.