Beginners Q&A: How much space do I need to build a model railway - Model Railway Engineer

Beginners Q&A: How much space do I need to build a model railway

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Thinking of building a model railway and wondering how much space you’ll need? It’s a question anyone building their first model railway asks and here’s the answer.

When the urge to build model railway hits, several practical questions will pop up: Can I afford it? Where could I put it? Do I have the time? And, most commonly, if the emails I get are anything to go by, how much space will I need?

Thankfully, the answer to this question is pretty easy.

The answer: as much space as you have and want to give your new hobby.

It’s as simple as that: It doesn’t matter how much space you have, there are layouts to fit the area you have.

Railways For Small Spaces

If you only have a small flat or perhaps just one room, don’t let that stop you.

You can build a tiny layout that fits on a window sill, shelf, coffee table or even suitcase. Railways in small spaces seem to be catching on a lot at the moment, with many exhibitions now having dedicated sections to tiny layouts.

Watch the videos in Model Railways In Small Spaces for inspiration and ideas of how to build a fully featured railway in tiny spaces or take a look at this short clip showing a fully operational railway on a small window sill.

A Corner Of A Room

If you have more room, you can pretty much build one to fit your taste – from a few feet to an the size of an entire room. Most model railways enthusiasts start life with their set-up on an old table in the corner of a room and expand from there, some going on to fill a whole room. When I first started, many, many, years ago my first railway started just like this and then expanded to run alongside an entire side of a room, sadly (!) it never got the size of this one – with bridges across doorways.

If you’re thinking of using using a spare room, take a look at Where’s Best To Build Your Model Railway where the considerations for loft, garages and sheds are considered.

That’s the great thing about model railways is you can start small, maybe occupying a desktop or table in the corner of the room, and grow it as your budget and confidence increases. Most model railways usually start at just a few feet and slowly expand.

And if that doesn’t fulfil your ambitions and dreams, there re miniature outdoor railways you can guild that run around a garden but that’s a different story.

If you’re looking for tips and advice, subscribe to my free newsletter (below) or get yourself one of these books on building a model railway. It’s easy to get started and needn’t cost a lot or use up lots of space. The key is not to worry about space, just get started.


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