Are Wooden Trains Compatible? - Model Railway Engineer

Are Wooden Trains Compatible?

4 comments 4 Trains For Children 4 Comments

Looking to expand your children’s favourite wooden wooden train set? There are lots of choices and many makes but are they compatible? 

Kids love trains and for younger children there’s nothing better than the wooden train sets such as those from BrioBigjigs and Thomas and Friends. My children would spend hours constructing railways and running their favourite trains around them before starting all over again. And again. And agin.

And to be honest, being a big kid who loves trains as well, I played with them too.

wooden trackBut it’s not long before their imaginations grow and they want to explore, build and create and they want more track. Then they’ll want more trains to put on the now longer, more elaborate, track. And then they need buildings for their  trains to pass by and of course tunnels!  You’ve got to have tunnels! What’s more fun than pushing a train into a tunnel and peering through at the other end to see Thomas coming through.

And this is where the problem comes in.

There are thankfully lots and lots of choices to expand your children’s wooden train set and keep their creative flowing but are they compatible?

Do the tracks from Brio, Thomas and Friends, Bigjigs and other makes all fit together? Will the old trains run on the new track and vice versa. Will Gordon fit through the tunnels? Does Duncan connect to Annie & Clarabel?

Thankfully, the answer is yes.

Wooden Track

The vast majority of wooden tracks clip and fit together.  While the actual design of tracks differs from one make to another they feature the same broad connections and their grooves (3 mm deep, 5 mm wide and have 20 mm between them) are the close enough on Brio, Bigjigs, Thomas and Friends and other makes to allow the trains to run without problem. Sometimes the track connectors from different makes won’t fit exactly but it’ll still hold the different sections in place well enough to work.

thomas engine shedBuildings

Track side buildings, those that don’t overlap are of course compatible and those that fit over the tracks – cranes, engine sheds, bridges and tunnels also work.

Trains

Equally, wooden trains themselves, as said, will fit onto and run on wooden tracks.  Brio, Bigjigs and Thomas and Friends trains also connect together with the magnetic connector. If in doubt, look for the metallic dome at the front of the trains in the pictures, if they have this they’ll work.

If you found this article useful, check out my other guides for tips and advice on Brio and wooden trains for children. Alternatively, if your child is looking for wants another train and you’re trying decide what to get them check out the sister post to this article – the best wooden trains.



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  1. Amanda Jones - November 21, 2016

    My Mum bought a load of brio track and similar buildings in the early to mid 1980s for (at the time) and my sister and I played with it and loved it. Later my younger sister and brother had a turn, and now my sons play with it.

    Some of the original 1980s stuff doesn’t work with more modern trains – in particular, a couple of tunnels and a bridge. The clearance is too low.

    • Hi Amanda,

      Thanks for your comment. The post was really aimed at people buying wooden track today but yes you’re correct in that some of the original tunnels especially are a bit low for “modern” wooden trains.

      Does you son have a favourite engine?

      Andy

  2. Amanda Jones - November 22, 2016

    His tastes at the moment are quite catholic, and he’s not yet played with it much. It lives at my parents’ house, so 2 year old hasn’t got to grips with it fully. 11 year old grandson adored the Thomas engines of one sort or another. Including bigger-scale Duplo ones.

  3. Its worth bearing in mind – that at least in the UK the metal Thomas trains magnets polarity is round the other way, so they’ll connect, but backwards 🙁

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