In modern times at least, railroads lock everything. Switches, gates, derails you name it, nothing happens without the conductor reaching for the keychain first. To have a model railroad where opening things is as simple as an instantaneous flip of a toggle strays from the pace of the real world. I’ve written before that it is a relatively simple task to put locking covers over turnout toggles. For manual switches, gates, and derails we can simply hang a lock on a hook and require the crew to open the “dummy lock”.
Where I got hung up on all of this was the locks themselves. To model the locks you really need large quantities of “keyed alike” luggage locks so that one key opens everything. After months of digging I discovered that such a product does exist. Enter Padlock Outlet a very well stocked lock wholesaler with excellent customer service. For a 30% fee (on orders less than $100) they will sell to small fries like us. Given the very low cost of the locks to begin with, even with the surcharge the locks are very economical. For my layout I purchased 24, keyed alike, small padlocks part number 4120KA. I received my locks the day after I placed the order, barely 24 hours later!