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Model Train Track Layouts

A track layout is a bird's-eye view of a railroad track that has been scaled down for model trains. The layout not only contains the track, but scenery, stations, tunnels and buildings as well. It looks like a mini city with train tracks. The layouts come in all different sizes, from ones that are small enough to fit on table tops, to ones that take up almost the entire floor.

There are four basic layout types:

The Continuous Loop

A continuous loop layout is basically what it sounds like, a circular or oval shape track where the train is continuously going around and around. This is the most basic type of train track layout for modellers.

Point To Point

The point to point track layout is just a long straight line, which the train runs back and forth on. There is usually a station on each end of the track.

Out and Back

The next type of track layout is an out and back. This type of layout is usually in a pear shape. The trains leave the station and go around a balloon loop; also known as a turning loop. This allows the train to reverse its direction with no need for stopping or shunting.

Continuous loop model train trackA continuous loop train track


The last type of track layout is called shunting; in North America it is called switching. This layout concentrates entirely on freight and requires the modeller to come up with an operational concept to keep the trains running and always have freight on them. This layout also needs the operator to shunt or move empty cars to a parallel track to keep the railway clear for all other trains to come through with additional freight. This type of track can be made in to a complex puzzle, challenging the operator to keep the trains moving by switching the tracks they are on while still get the freight delivered.

When deciding on the proper layout for your trains, there are a few things you have to consider such as: a theme, what you want the trains to do, what you want the trains to be hauling(people or freight, for example). Another thing to consider is how large do you want your layout to be. The size of your room might dictate how large your track layout can reasonably be, so keep that in mind. Other things to consider are: do you want the trains to stop or just continuously go around, do you want to have to stop or shunt the trains at different times and switch the track so another train can come down the same track, do you want it to be a simple kind of layout or one that is really complex? All of these things really need to be taken into consideration when trying to decide on the proper layout for you and your trains, to ensure that you get the best layout possible.

model train trackRural City Layout n scale model train trackN Scale Model Train model train track city layout #2Rural City Layout #2 model train track city layout #3Rural City Layout #3 model train track city layout #4Rural City Layout #4 model train track city with railcarsRural City Layout #5

Generally, for novice modellers it is good to start out with a relatively simple continuous loop track layout. Not only will this get you started quickly, but it is also less expensive to start out with a simple loop. You'll get a feel for model trains and if you actually want to invest more time and money into building a more elaborate setup.

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