Model Train Layout Plans

The near-universal use of the Internet has been a great means for model train enthusiasts to ‘meet’ others and share descriptions and pictures of model train layouts and model train layout plans. Whether you run trains for the fun of making them go through all the twists and turns of track successfully, or whether you have created a replica of a real train line or town, there are plenty of people all over the world who share your vision.

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Model train layout plans can easily be shared over the Internet. Whether hand-drawn and photographed, or created with the aid of design software, there is an entire world of model train hobbyists sharing their layout plans online, and who are glad to discuss them in chat forums. Making layout plans has come a long way in recent years due to great improvements in computer graphics capabilities.

A simple search on Google using the words model train layout software produces over 2 million matches! You can find professional-level design software, open source software, and free downloads for model train layout design software. (Always remember to be careful who you download software from. Make sure your computer has up-to-date anti-virus software at all times.)

But you don’t have to have software to design model train layouts. After all, people were designing model train routes decades before computers became common enough and powerful enough to help out. And sometimes an idea comes to you when you’re not near a computer and the best you can do is sketch out a rough design on a paper napkin or in a memo book.

Every model train lover has had ideas for layouts that were inspired by unusual things. Creating model train layout plans is an art in itself, whether it is done by hand on paper, or with the assistance of a computer.

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Model Railway Track Plans

Model railway track plans range from the tiniest Z-scale tabletop trains to backyard trains that you can actually ride on. The hobby of creating track plans for model railways is as attractive to adults as it is for children. Track plans can consist of a simple loop (popular underneath Christmas trees in North America) or extremely elaborate routes with spurs, switches, curves and straight areas.


There are numerous scales of model trains, so you should take the size and scale of the train into account when making your model railway track plans. One popular scale developed in the 1950s in the UK is ‘O gauge,’ with 32 mm tracks and wheels. This scale was perhaps the most popular one of the 1960s and 1970s. While O scale trains started out being mostly indoor trains, the scale eventually became popular for outdoor garden railways as well.

The most popular scale model railroad in the world is ‘HO scale,’ with the HO standing for ‘Half O’ because it is half the size of O scale railroads. There is a huge selection of kits, parts, locomotives and accessories for HO scale trains. One reason this scale is so popular is that it is one of the most affordable. O scale model trains tend to be proportionally more expensive.

Part of the fun of model railway track plans is that you can gradually add to them over the years: cars, locomotives, scenery such as trees, even papier maché mountains with tunnels are reasonably-sized projects for HO scale model trains. Another advantage of using such a popular scale layout is that you’ll have an easier time purchasing secondhand accessories, and if you join a model railway club, you will probably meet plenty of enthusiasts who also have HO scale trains.

Making model railway track plans is an activity that school-aged children, their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents can all enjoy.