About Planning for model railway trains

The model trains standard boxes often provide a track oval, which allows to run the train on a minimal surface. The oval allows to quickly build a network and become familiar with the functioning of model railroad trains. The oval built on a board also helps to be familiar with the network setting.

But the oval has a big flaw: it is generally not a realistic reproduction of a railway network and in my opinion is boring in the long run. The article below aims to support thinking for the construction of model railways layouts that allows to reproduce some realistic operation and to be fun and enjoyable for a long time!

In reality, the trains move on from a departure station to an arrival station via several other stations. This can be represented schematically as follows:

model railways layouts
The stations A to E are on a main line. Some trains stop at all stations, others only to some of them. Each station has a particular function, but this will be the subject of another article. At the station B, a secondary line is detached from the main line in the direction of L and M. M is a terminal station.

model railroad
Let us now see how to design a model train network that would reproduce part of this line.

The most common model railway trains network is the oval as found in basic sets. On the oval, it is possible to reproduce one of the stations of the main line A, C, D or E or station L of the secondary line.

But even reproducing the precise terms of the ways of the station, eg the station D, no realistic operation will be possible.
how to build a model railroad

Indeed, every train that leaves the station returns very quickly to the other side. Although this network concept is proposed on many model train layouts plans websites and in brochures on this subject, we quickly get bored watching trains turning around.

model trains online

It can be improved by replicating the oval D station and simulating the stations before and after (C and E) by a hidden station that allows to exchange a convoy and extend fictitiously the trip.

If the operation of such a model railroad trains network is a bit more diverse than in the first concept, it still does not reproduce the actual operation of the line. Indeed, the train that goes from D towards C should really come back later form C to continue towards E. On the proposed plan, the train that starts from D towards C returns to D at the right SIDE, as if he just came from E, which is contrary to what would happen in reality.

To reproduce the D station and an operation which is conform with reality, stations C and E should be simulated in the form of hidden stations:

how to make a model train

In this situation, it is possible to reproduce the actual operation of the station D. It is even possible to have a schedule inspired by the reality with trains that stop at D, and others pass, cargo trains which must maneuver, etc.

But such an operation requires a lot of attention from the model railroader, since it must manage three stations simultaneously (this also depends on the density of operation of the line!). To focus on the operation of the station D, hidden stations C and E are often replaced by reversing loops equipped with sidings to exchange convoys. This is called a “dog bone” model train network form, especially if the line is double track (also known as flattened oval):

model railroad hobbyist

The reverse loop has the disadvantage to send back the composition in reverse order, which is contrary to reality, but this is a compromise that most designer model railroad hobbyists agree with, given the advantages and operating comfort it gives!

A theme often chosen by model railroaders is the station on a main line with a secondary line which is detaching from the main line. In our example, this may be the B station with the line to LM:

model railway layouts

The proposed concept to the left side is often the one the model railroad hobbyist is choosing. It allows a realistic operating on the line from B to M (the fact to reproduce or not the station L depends only on the available space), but the main line is only a single oval as in the first example above and it does not allow any realistic operation.

Simulate stations A and C as a station hidden in the Oval station brings a little more variety in the operation but neither allows realistic operation:

model trains layouts

However, the two examples below are suitable for a realistic reproduction of the operation:

model railway trains

In the first example, stations B and C of the main line are reproduced, while A and D are hidden stations. They may also be reverse loops as illustrated above with the proviso that in this case, the model train is returned.

It is the same in the secondary line in the first example where the L station is reproduced, but M station is hidden. In the second example, the terminus M station is M is also reproduced.

model train layouts plans

Obviously, you may feel you need a lot of space to reproduce a model railway trains network that allows such realistic operation. But it is possible to build this kind of network in L scale with these dimensions: 2m by 1m with a depth of 2.50m. With N scale, the required space would be even less.
You can even get a realistic operation on a minimal surface if you focus on the terminus M station and when L station is hidden:

model railroading

In a minimalist alternative, L can even be a fiddle yard.
I hope these few lines will help the model railroad hobbyist for the conception of model train layouts plans.

Don’t worry. There is at your disposal the ultimate guide about model railway trains.
Everything is explained in detail and you can’t find a better help to successfully conceive, build and develop your model trains HERE :

model trains