Incredible Model Railway Facts, Figures and World Records

model train fastest, smallest, longestEver wondered what the fastest model train is? How about the most expensive or longest model railway?

Here are all the surprising world-record breaking model railways and their facts and figures.

Here it is, the ultimate collection of model railway world records. I’ve read through my library, scoured the internet and spoken to people around the world to find this collection of facts and figures that will surprise and amuse.

Roy Castle would be proud.

The Single Most Expensive Model Train

In 2006, a Lionel Train was sold at auction in America for $250,000.00 other trains have been sold for $150,000 and a home with a model railway in it sold for $3.5million.

The World’s Biggest Model Railway

The clear winner by a long way is Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg. It has 1,300 trains made up of over 10,000 carriages, over 100,000 moving vehicles, 500,000 lights, 130,000 trees, and 400,000 human figures.

The Most Model Trains Made By One Person

According to Guinness World Records, the largest collection of model railway vehicles made by one person is the James P. Richards Collection owned by the National Railway Museum in York, UK. There are 610 models in the collection handmade to scale.

The World’s First Model Railway

world's first model railwayThe first model railway was built in 1859 for the 3-year-old son of Emperor Napoleon III  at  Château de Saint-Cloud.

The picture of the figure of 8 railway opposite is also the world’s first ever photo of a model railway and is from the 8th October 1859 issue of the magazine Le Monde Illustré which described the clock-work railway.

“The railway built for the amusement of Prince Imperial is a real toy as well as a masterpiece of mechanical science. It has been set up in a corner of the private park of Saint-Cloud. Its track is in the shape of figure 8, and the curvature of its tiny rails is reminiscent of the surprising curves of the railway from Paris to Sceaux.

It has a small station, its small viaducts, its small bridges, its small inclines and ramps. The engine, which is about fifty centimetres wide, has wheels driven by an internal spring which can be wound up as desired.”

Source: Railway of the Prince Imperial

The World’s Fastest Model Train

A OO gauge, live steam, model train version of the Mallard has been clocked at 186 scale miles per hour. Although Steve Burdett has a video of a model train doing 400 scale mph.

The Largest Model Train Engine

The largest model railway engine built, as recorded by Guinness World Records, is the Thomas the Tank Engine character ‘James’ built by BBC Visual Effects for a Thomas the Tank Engine tour in 2003.

It measured 264.3 cm high, 149.6 cm wide, 652 cm long (104.05 x 58.59 x 256.69 in) and weighs nearly 1.5 tons.

The Most Expensive Model Railway

Model railway enthusiasts spend a lot on their passion but the most expensive yet assembled is Miniature Wunderland in Germany. In 2015 it was valued at an astonishing £ 10 million (€15million).

Tom Hanks

Most Famous Model Railway Enthusiast Celebrity

There are lots of celebrity model railway builders, including Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Gene Hackman, Elton John, David Hasselhoff, Michael Jordan, Pete Waterman, Roger Daltrey, Michael Palin, Bruce Springsteen, Rod Stewart and Neil Young but perhaps the most famous is Tom Hanks.

Other notable past and present model railway enthusiasts include Tim Berners-Lee, Warren Buffett, Winston Churchill, Alan Cox, and Walt Disney.

The Oldest Model Railway Club

There are hundreds of model railway clubs around the UK and thousands elsewhere but The Model Railway Club in London, which was formed in 1910 and is still going strong.

The Largest Personal Collection Of Model Trains

I thought I had a lot of trains until I read about Bernd Schumacher in USA. Bernd started collecting in 1992 and now has 2,956 model trains and won him the world record in 2016.

The Worlds Longest Train Set

The world’s longest train set, confirmed by Guinness World Records, is Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg, Germany, and had a total length of 50,525 ft (15,400 m) in 2015.

The Worlds Smallest Working Train

According to Guinness Record Worlds is 1:1000 scale, where 1ft becomes 0.012 inches.

How Many Model Trains Does It Take To Pull A Real Train

Can a model train pull a real train? Yes, and it takes 198 model trains to pull a real train.

The Smallest Commercially Sold Model Railway

While OO gauge, made famous by Hornby, and HO Gauge are the most popular model railway formats, the smallest is T gauge, where every 1ft in real life is reduced to .0267 inches in model form.

The Longest Model Train

The record for the longest model train was set on 23rd April 2011 when an HO Gauge model train of 31 locomotives and 1,563 carriages measuring 925 ft 6 in (282.11 m) was built and run by the Wilmington Railroad Museum Model Railroad Committee (USA).

The Longest, Heaviest, Fastest Real Trains

The Longest and Heaviest Train In The World

This eye-popping record is held by Australian BHP Iron ore train. On 21st June 2001, 8 GE AC6000 locomotives pulling 682 loaded iron ore wagons measuring 4.568 miles (7.353 km) in length and weighing 100,000 tonnes (82,262 tonnes of ore) travelled 170 miles from Newman to Port Headland.

Longest Train Journey Without Changing Trains

The longest train journey without changing trains is the line that runs a frankly staggering 6,346 miles (10,214 km) from Moscow, Russia to Pyongyang in North Korea. It takes a whopping 7 days 20 hours 25 minutes for the train to complete the journey.

Fastest Steam Train

For a couple of minutes on 3rd July 1938, the locomotive Mallard achieved 126 miles per hour on a stretch of track just south of Grantham, UK.

Fastest Train

The fastest train isn’t steam or diesel but Maglev (magnetic levitation). The Shanghai Maglev achieves 267 mph on its way from Pudong International Airport to the Longyang metro station.

The Most Popular Model Railway Size

This depends on where you are. In the UK, members of the ModelRailwayEngineer community endorsed the widely held assumption that it’s OO gauge, where 4mm represents 1ft in real life.  In America and elsewhere, the most popular size is HO Scale.

The Longest Lego Model Train

Prior to 2021, the longest Lego railway was built by 80 Lego enthusiasts in 2013. However, 14-year-old,  Alexander Blong of New Zealand had other ideas and in 2021 he spent 50 hours building a Lego train that smashed the record, pulling 101 carriages!


The Heaviest Train Carriage Ever Pulled By A Model Train

On 21st February 2007, 200 electric model locomotives Märklin pulled a 47-tonne carriage 32 ft 9 in (10 meters) at the DB-Gelände in Munich, Germany.

The Oldest Model Railway

As recognised by Guinness World Records, the oldest model railway was built for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway in 1912 to train railway signallers. It is now in the National Railway Museum, York, England.

That’s it for now but I’ll update this regularly as new records are set. If you know of any other model railway facts, figures or records, drop a comment below and I’ll add them here.

> 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.

Picture credits: Tom Hanks photo reproduced under CC BY-SA 2.5

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.
One comment

Add Comment

Required fields are marked *. Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.