If you are deciding to go with DCC, you certainly are heading in the direction of total train control. DCC typically is what most folks are requesting these days for custom projects, but if you're planning on having a new custom model railroad built make sure your locomotive fleet and applicable rolling stock is ready for it. If you're not quite ready yet for DCC or have a special need to stay with DC, I can wire your custom layout for DC operation with DCC in mind for a future conversion.
If you want to take advantage of the latest DCC technology for your new custom built model railroad and taking DCC a step further, you can run your trains directly from your desktop computer, laptop or even your mobile devices. Furthermore buy integrating a computer, programming your locomotives and changing decoder CV's has never been easier. Combining block detection, your computer, and readily available hardware & software, signal systems can now benefit from logic processing to operate signal systems just like the real railroads.
The Digitrax Super Chief Duplex Radio 8 amp starter set shown here is a great example of a top end DCC system. This Super Chief starter set includes the DS200 8amp command station, a Duplex Radio wireless hand held throttle, UR92 radio receiver, a PS14 power supply, and manuals. The power pack shown in the photo is a Digitrax PS514 which is not included in the starter set and is purchased separately.
The above photo depicts a typical Digitrax system installation of hardware that you could expect to have integrated into a layout to run your trains with rail detection and a signal system. This installation is reliant on a computer for signaling functionality. There is some very cool technology being applied to this layout, but you don't have to go this far to use a DCC system. Most entry level systems are very good for a first DCC system purchase and are very easy to set up, plus you'll be running trains soon after.
Several options are available for turnout operation in the model railroading hobby. The most prototypical looking method of turnout control in my opinion utilizes under the table switch machines such as these Tortoise switch machines from Circuitron. In this example the switch machines receive their commands from the Digitrax DS64 stationary decoder. The commands to change the turnout's route are send via the wireless handheld throttle. Since this layout was hooked up to the computer, turnouts could also be changed with a click of the mouse.
The Digitrax PR3 USB interface handles the communications between the layout and your computer. The PR3 allows your computer to communicate with the layout via the LocoNet. Additionally, the PR3 is also an excellent tool assist in programming your locomotive decoders.
This is a computer screen shot of the control panel that run trains, controls turnouts, and handles the signal system logic behind the scenes. The black lines on the layout diagram show unoccupied track and the red lines show what track is currently being occupied by a train. The smaller window is the throttle window. Pretty cool technology and it's very enjoyable once it's all configured and operational.