How long is an N scale Mile?

How many feet will you need to recreate one mile in N gauge and how to work around the space challenge.

If you’re planning a model railway based on a section of railway in the real-world you’ll want to know how many feet you’ll need for each mile of ‘prototype’ track.

This works out to 33 feet, reached by diving 5280 feet (the number of feet in a mile) by 160 – N scale is 1:160. On my calculator this works out to 33 ft, or 396 inches or 10.05 meters if you work in Metric.


An N scale mile is:

  • 33 Feet
  • 396 Inches
  • 10.05 Meters

For most of us, this will result in the realisation we have no where near enough space to recreate a real-world/prototype railway to scale. The answer is clever technique called compression which I cover here.

Essentially, this is a technique where only the most important elements of a area are recreated in your model or shrinking expanses down to a size that fits our layout sizes. So if you had 10 miles of rolling countryside, you’d cut this down to say quarter of mile or 8ft in N gauge model scale.

> 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.
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.

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