I came back to this whole Fractional-Demand-Yard project last night, and not only have a found a decent building to skin (the Tudor Large Station has a long wooden platform that can be skinned as tracks, with all the rest made invisible), but I've got it working as an in-game buildable lineside structure. And it works as an effective relay point for loads... it generates enough demand to keep the loads flowing, but not so much demand that it surpasses the final delivery point!
I won't have a lot of time to develop this further, but I do want to create about five different types of Yards based on this premise. See my initial posts. The one I created last night was called a HopperYard, and it works for Bauxite, Coal, and Iron. You would use these as relay points along a long delivery route, say going from A to C. You build a HopperYard (for $200k) at B, assuming that the mine is at A and the mill is at C. The value should soon go to something like $45 at A, $55 at B, and $64 at C (that is what I saw in my testing last night). Thus, instead of running one train that goes from A to C and makes $19 per trip/load, you can run two trains that make $10 and $9, but deliver twice as often.
A real benefit of this would be to break up the route into operating districts, where geography dictates different classes of locomotive. A to B might be hilly and thus require a shay or articulated steam, while B to C might be flatter and favor sprinters.
If you have a bunch of these yards in a series, say A-B-C-D-E where B-C-D are yards, then theoretically the differential between B,C, and D would be very minimal and only reflect differences among supply at each. Thus, you could still reach a saturation point where loads flow from A to B but no further... until, that is, the oversupply at B causes its price to drop below C, and loads move along down the chain. Of course, the transfer runs between yards are not as likely to make much money, so you might want to limit how many yards you build.
I'm sorry I don't have screenshots or downloadable content yet, but I just wanted to report that it does indeed work! More to come later.
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