Tips to expand the model trains network

Rare are the model railroad hobbyists who do not meet either once the problem of available space…
The question is: how to build a model railroad with this constraint?

Don’t forget that you will find the ultimate resource that will provide you all you need and will answer to all your questions here:

model train layouts
As a model railroader, you certainly want a great model railways network with long trains that wind on a picturesque track. The reality is often different. But even in a small area, we just do something interesting. Here are some tips:

Choice of subject

it is obviously difficult to reproduce a fork of the Zephir tracks, the southern Lötschberg ramp or complete a yard on a room model railroad network of 160 x 80 cm…
To rebuild realistically a theme on a small surface, it is necessary that the theme allows that. A small station on a secondary line will be easier to reproduce and will show more realism that a 8 tracks station filled with intercity R1 curves on both sides.

model trains layouts

Train Speed

On an oval track, a train leaving the station and which comes back five seconds later does not allow the viewer to place himself at the station and to imagine that the train made a long journey.

The impression of a small network is reinforced by the speed of the train. However, if the train is traveling more slowly, the distance impression increases.

A train traveling one meter in 4 seconds in HO or 7 seconds in N is traveling at a speed corresponding to 80 km / h for the real trains. If one has not a TGV on a long straight line, that’s enough and lengthens the path sufficiently for the oval 160 x 80 cm to be covered respectively in 16 seconds (HO) or 28 seconds ( N). The viewer has time to see the train and to appreciate the vacuum station before the train comes back.

Train length

The longer the train is, the longer the network is thereby shortened. In particular, on a line with tunnels, if the locomotive is already entering the following tunnel while the tail of the train has not yet left the previous tunnel (except of course if it is a line with many short tunnels we can in see in mountains) this gives a very narrow perspective. There are many examples of realistic short trains on which to draw when it comes to model train layouts.

model railroader

Decor accentuating depth

We can give a sense of depth by reducing the size of the decorative elements (trees, houses, characters) farthest from the viewer. The eye will interpret this as perspective. For example you can also play with the width of a road or a gorge.

Decor Background

If behind the model train network there is a white wall, the viewer will immediately identify network dimensions. If otherwise the gaze continues beyond to an image that extends the decor, will be felt a greater distance.


The use of mirrors has been first described by John Allen. Cleverly arranged, they extend the decor. One can imagine such a long valley with mirrors or a few buildings with a mirror can immediately give the impression of a city. But beware, the viewer should in no way be able to see it and also, avoid the moving trains to reflect on it.

N Scale

The N scale is smaller than the H0 scale, of course. This advantage can be exploited as the vendors offer: 4x more train on the same surface. But we can exploit this advantage in the opposite direction, doing the same thing as what we have done in H0, but with more generous curves, longer tracks, more scenery, etc.

More scenery and less train

A network overloaded with tracks and trains always seem smaller than a network where the train blends into a suited decor.

I hope these tips will help you in planning your model railroad network!

The complete guide is accessible HERE.