If you’re thinking of starting a model railway or perhaps revisiting the trains your dad or grandad had, one of the first questions most people ask is how much will it cost.
It’s a good question, after all, few of us have bottomless pockets and it’s wise to check how much any new hobby or project will cost before starting.
The good news is that model railways can cost as little or as much as you want.
If you shop around wisely, you can get a beginner’s set from as little as £25. Supermarkets in particular often run promotions where Hornby sets in particular can be had at massively reduced prices.
I recently picked up two Hornby starter sets which normally sell for £60 for £25 from ASDA, as seen in the photo here.
From there you can add extra tracks, trains and models as you want; again shopping around to find the best bargains.
Of course, this is for a fairly simple starter set containing everything you need to begin with a DC control system. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, and 90 per cent of model railway engineers started with similar sets. But if you want a digital control system, it will cost more and sadly these aren’t discounted so often. Typically, you can spend hundreds on such sets. See my guide on the best train sets for more details.
I’m a big fan of flea markets and boot fairs. It’s often possible to find old trains, wagons and carriages being sold for a fraction of modern prices.
As your collection progresses or if you want to take it a bit further, you might get a dedicated home for your railway so you can set it up permanently.
Again, if you want to spend money, you can buy ready-made baseboards or assemble one yourself after a trip to the DIY store but there’s nothing to stop you from using an old tabletop. These can often be found going free on local buy-and-sell sites.
So there you go, model railways can be started from just a few pounds and added to over time as budget allows.
If you’re interested in starting a model railway, don’t forget to read my guide to the best train sets.
> 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.