This very simple tutorial is designed to offer just one example of how you can add any transport route, in this instance rail, in such a manner as to enhance the realism and general aesthetics of your cities.
To start, I have a small rural community with road transport only.
My plan will be to run a single rail track west/east with a passenger station at the heart of the village. In order to add some shape and variation to the course of the track I will add a diagonal section, which will in turn require the re-routing of my main road in order to accommodate a rail bridge overpass.
This is going to entail some destruction of developed farmland, but needs must. I will firstly demolish along the route of my track.
Again, for visual reasons I am going to raise the terrain so as to have my rail run along an embankment. Using smoncrie's "lifter" lot, I will raise a small stretch of terrain.
Using single road tiles I will expand the raised embankment all the way along the route of the track.
For yet more visual realism I am going to add overhead electricity gantries produced by frogface (Railway Electrification mod). In order to do this I will raise every 5th/6th tile along the track.
Now that doesn't look too nice, so I'm going to add a simple grass filler lot, in this case one produced by morifari as it has no park effect. To finish the embankment look I will add ploppable trees along the route to a) add realism & b) hide the dirt base of the gantries.
Note: If you are skilled with the LE you may want to change the dirt texture for a grass one, but if not remember that trees can hide a multitude of sins !!
Next we need to deal with the re-routing of the main road and the positioning of the station. The reason I will be re-routing the main road is that the NAM rail bridge puzzle pieces must be fitted on a straight section and not diagonal. I do not like small sections of straight rail or road cut into diagonals, as I do not believe they look realistic and I'll avoid it at all costs.
The fate of the old main road is sealed and the northern section will be demolished to be replaced by a line of trees to separate the two farms. Again I have placed grass filler lots here for better visuals. The southern section is re-designed to add a few extra houses and again trees added to blend to the embankment.
For the station I have demolished a small section of the large farm and the few houses along the new section of the main road (although I'll add them back in after) and expanded the raised section in order to fit my station (produced by Ill Tonkso) and approach road. The bridge section visible in the second pic is the Rail Over Road Tressle by JayStimson
All thats left is to fill in any remaining embankment tiles with grass filler lots & trees and to add in any zoning where space is available.