So you’ve taken the first tentative step and got a model railway starter kit, but what next?
Well if you’re convinced this hobby is for you, you can start planning a proper layout but we’ll save that for another day.
If however you just want to explore a bit more, expanding your track circuit is probably the best next step.
The Hornby starter kits mentioned in my best train sets post typically come with one large circle of track and maybe a siding. These are fun to start with but it can get pretty dull pretty quick and, if you’re like me, you’ll soon be trying out different designs. But with the small number of tracks included in sets, your choices will be limited.
Luckily, as long as you stick the same size of track (gauge in model railway lingo) it’s very easy to get more track and hence the variation in the size and choice of your railway.
Hornby Track Expansion Options
The Hornby starter sets I recommend in the companion article to this (the best train sets) work to the most common UK model railway track size — known as OO or double-o gauge — for which extra track is very easy to get.
These come with a selection of track that you can just clip onto your existing track to expand your layout.
Hornby Compatible Track — Peco
Alternatively, Peco makes a range of track compatible with Hornby but which many, myself included, regard as superior for its looks.
Being compatible they just connect to the Hornby track in the same fashion.
The Peco range is available here.
It’s probably also worth thinking about the kind of layouts you want rather than randomly buying extra track; there are lots of different types — straight, curved, points (where one track splits into two), long and short — but while it’s fun to just ad-lib your designs making them up as you go this can be an expensive route as you might end up buying track you might not use.
Lastly a word of warning: Don’t bother with the Hornby TrakMat, this is little more than a large sheet of printed paper and not worth the price. One of the few things Hornby does that I don’t recommend.
* Picture credit: Picture by Les Chatfield via Flickr.
> A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.
Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of modelrailwayengineer.com. He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.