Everything you are trying to do with your circuit board can be done with a single PICAXE chip.Bertz, the more I beat my head against the wall, the better the picaxe looks. What do I need to get started, where to get it? And will my photoresistors or phototransistors do for the 'digital input' ? I sure hope the picaxe is noise resistant. I think I read where the alternating flashers and recorder can be included, too.
All PICAXE chips have A/D capability so your photoresistors and phototransistors should work.
Nothing electronic is completely noise resistant. You still need to separate track power from control power and use by-pass caps where required.
PICAXE was developed to teach school children programming. PICAXE BASIC is a very easy programming language, but it does have limitations. It doesn't handle floating point math very well and the BASIC interpreter tends to slow down the program execution. But for the model RR hobbyist these are not really issues to concern yourself with.
I would start by reading this and subsequent articles on this website.
Then go to the main PICAXE website where you will find links to a support forum, manuals, programming commands, buying info and much more.