from: The Model Railways Shunting Puzzles Website

The original rules put forward by John Allen consisted of two components:

RULE A1: “Switch the five cars to their destinations on the layout.”

RULE A2: “Complete the switching as quickly as possible.”

On the original Timesaver layout, John Allen marked out the destinations for each car before each game session and then set up the cars in their “starting positions”, which also stayed the same for every round of the game.

Time was a key element in the game (as the name implies): you had to make the right switching moves to get the cars to where they were supposed to end up, but you also had to do it as quickly as possible.

This also meant that apart from thinking ahead to do as little switching as possible you also had to be nimble with the controls for the locomotive (which on the original Timesaver operated with a set speed, so you could only change the direction of travel of the locomotive).

A game of Timesaver was therefore set up this way to provide individual players with absolutely the same game configuration, so that at the end of a game session (perhaps an evening at a club, or even an entire day at public shows) you would have a winner: the operater who got the switching done in the shortest period of time.

Any accidents such as derailments etc. would earn the switcher in charge a time penalty.