Model Railway Layouts

Before you start to build any model railway you need to decide on what model railway layout you are going to use.

I am going to offer a number of resources that will help you to design and build the perfect model railway layout.

First things first you need to beg, steal or buy a copy of “Model Railroad Bridges & Trestles: A Guide to Designing and Building Bridges for Your Layout (Model Railroad Handbook, No 33)” as this book will teach you how to plan your layout from start to finish with clear diagrams and descriptions.

If your budget stretches, I would also look at getting a copy of “Railway Modelling: The complete guide”, which is a hardback book that will offer help and advice for all aspects of model railway building.

Starting out there are three main railway layouts to choose from:

1. Oval model railway layout:

This is your basic layout that most people start with when they buy a model train starter kit.


  • Cheap and easy to set up
  • Trains can run continuously without a change of direction


  • Not very realistic (how many oval railway layouts do you see in real life?)
  • Train can look like its chasing its own tail

2. Covered Oval Model Railway Layout

This is the most popular railway layout used and is very similar to the oval layout but this time a part of the track is covered.


  • Looks more realistic than oval


  • Can cost a lot more as more scenery is required

3. Straight model railway Layout

This railway layout is used to set a scene and is just a straight length of track that ends at both sides of the baseboard.


  • Very realistic
  • Does not use much space


  • Requires skills to change train direction
  • More difficult to manage

You need to choose a model railway layout that fits your needs. If this is your first layout – keep it small, you can alway add extra track later!

Image thanks goes to:

149 thoughts on “Model Railway Layouts”

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