Model trains have been around for decades and in that time the top brands and manufacturers have changed a lot over the years. Here are the top brands for model trains in 2023.
Top model train brands in the UK
In the United Kingdom, there’s really no competition. Hornby is the undisputed model train brand.
They sell OO gauge — the most popular size model trains in the UK — and TT gauge under their own name and N gauge via one of the many other international brands they now own. Hornby-owned model train brands include Lima, Rivarossi, Arnold and Jouef.
Just behind Hornby is Bachmann Europe which sells OO gauge models under the Bachmann name and N gauge trains under the Graham Farish brand. There are also a number of smaller OO gauge model train manufacturers, including Dapol, and a number of hobby retailers are also starting to make their own models – including Hattons and Rails of Sheffield.
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Top model train brands in the United States
In the United States, the situation isn’t so clear-cut. There are multiple manufacturers. The top brands include:
- Athearn (HO, N scale)
- Atlas (O, HO and N scale)
- Arnold (N gauge, owned by Hornby)
- Bachmann (HO, N and G scale)
- Lionel (O scale trains).
- Walthers (N and HO scale)
If you’re looking for the ideal starter set to get into the fascinating world of model railways, see my guide to the best model train sets.
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> 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.
> The Hornby mark is a registered trademark of Hornby Hobbies Limited.
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.