How big (or small) are N gauge trains: photos and dimensions

How big (or small) are n gauge model trains If you are thinking about getting an N gauge train you might be concerned about how small (or large) they are? Are they too small see or handle? How do they compare to trusty OO gauge? Here’s the answer.

If you want to build a model railway but are cramped for space, you’re likely considering N gauge. If you’re struggling with terminology and confused by the meaning of gauge, read my comprehensive guide to model train gauge).

This is the smaller brother of the more common OO gauge trains of Hornby fame.

The look similar and have all the same detail as can be found in their big brother but are of course much smaller.

The the big advantage of course as it means you can get more train action in a smaller space but you’ve yet to get your hands on one you may be wondering how small they are, are they too small to see and use?

The picture above shows two similar locomotives in OO and N gauge side by side so you can compare.

train dimensions N and OO gauge compared

In terms of dimensions, the OO gauge locomotive, a Bachmann model, is 5 inches or just over 12.5cm buffer to buffer.

The N gauge version is 2.5 inches or fractionally under 6.5cm buffer to buffer. From cab roof to tack, the OO gauge locomotive is 2 inches or just over 5cm while it’s sibling is 1 inch / 2.5cm.

Hopefully, this will give you a good idea and help you with your decision as to whether to move to N gauge or not.

Personally, I’ve used both and prefer OO for the reasons I discuss here but  I’d love to hear which you go for, share your decision in a comment below and help others with their quandary.


Founder of ModelRailwayEngineer, Andy Leaning

Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of 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.

Afflliate disclosure:The links on this page may take you to carefully selected businesses, such as Hornby, Amazon, eBay and Scale Model Scenery, where you can purchase the product under affiliate programmes. This means I receive a small commission on any orders placed although the price you pay does not change. You can read my full affiliate policy here. I also sell my my own ready to use, pre-made and painted buildings and terrain features. browse the range.
  1. I use Linux openSUSE Leap 15.3 and neither Firefox or Chrome allows me to see any photographs on your website. Am I to understand that if I do not use “Windows”, I cannot make use of your site?

    • Hi Normam, can you try it now. There was a technical issue for a couple of days that prevented the images loading. Let me know if you’re still having issues (you might need to clear your browser cache). Thanks, Andy

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