Design Model Railroad Layout starts by choosing a scale track for operating trains. Your layout size is what every you can get away with.

A layout in model railroading is a diorama containing scale track for operating trains. The scale of a layout varies from the size of shelves to design that occupy entire rooms. Once you’ve decided to begin designing your model railroad layout. It becomes important that you first develop a plan on how to proceed.


An important part of designing your model railroad is decision making and best belief. There are several choices to make when designing your model railroad. Do you want to freelance the railroad or copy a prototype?  What kinds of equipment (locomotives and cars) do you want to run?  You may want to add your own rules like what you want the height of the layout to be. How wide the aisles should be if you have aisles. You may want to make sure that all areas of the railroad have easy access. So you’re not having to break your back bending over or stand on a ladder or scaffolding to reach the farther sections of your track and scenery. 


If you are creating this railroad by yourself, you may want to start with a small layout and add to it later gradually.  Or, you could plan for a large model railroad layout, but then just build and complete small sections of it at a time.  Or, get all the track and trains up and running and then approach the scenery gradually.  You have to realize at the outset that if you are planning a large, room-sized layout, and if you still have to earn a living out in the real world, which means you may not have a lot of time to work on it, your model railroad may take a few years to “complete”.

Once you have answered these basic questions, then you can begin with your layout. Next is the track plan. You can either use a track plan that has been published or design your own original plan. Whichever it is, always keep the theme and function as well as the end goal of your railroad in mind as you draw out your plans. Ensure that the model railroad layout room is a nice place for you to work and in good conditions of lighting, air-conditioning, and absence of pests and critters.


Building Designer Model Railroad Layout

Listed below is a step-by-step guide on how to design your own model railroad layout:

1-Build the Benchwork

There is a lot of ways to build your benchwork. Ensure not to build too big of a railroad in limited space. Space is ideal in railroading. You should be able to move around your layout comfortably. Also step back to have a good view and to appreciate your work. You can cover the area under the benchwork with a curtain or with sliding panels.

Make a Backdrop

Your backdrop could be a blue wall in the background. Or you could buy a backdrop scene or even paint one. Ensure that it blends in with your theme. Pictures of your layout should not show your workshop or the cluttered storage area under the layout.

Make a Backdrop

your backdrop could be a blue wall in the background. Or you could buy a backdrop scene or even paint one. Ensure that it blends in with your theme. Pictures of your layout should not show your workshop or the cluttered storage area under the layout.

Draw or loosely layout your track on the benchwork

Visualize where you want your rivers, roads, mountains, and structures to be and mark them on your layout surface. Make cardboard mockups for future structures.

Build the Terrain

Begin to build your terrain and once you’ve got this in place. You can start fastening down the roadbed and track.

Start Laying Track

Make sure you put easements into the curves. Be careful about S-curves, make sure you have enough clearance and radius on your curves to accommodate the longest passenger cars you will be running. Especially if 2 passenger trains will be running close to each other on a double-track curve.  You will need to be thinking about where you will need rail gaps to prevent short circuits for reversing loops and to make isolated blocks if you are going to be wiring for DC.  Make sure the track sections are lined up well at the joints to prevent derailments.

Test and retest your track after laying each section. Solder rail joints where you need to, but not all of them – especially not turnouts in case you need to replace one.  Make sure your turnouts are installed on flat areas only – never on inclines.  Test and retest the turnouts to be sure they work properly and don’t cause derailments.  Use a metal file that was needed to smooth ridges that may cause a wheel to jump or hangup.  Use a track gauge appropriate for your scale to be sure the rails are the right distance apart in all areas.  If you are going to use uncoupling devices, you should know where they will be needed as you put down your track. So you can install them as you go.


now attach feeder wires at every three feet to the bottom or outside of the rails. Many railroaders say this should be done every 6 to 10 feet but this should work just fine as long as the rail-joints are tight. Choose whether to use DC or DCC power and wire. Wiring remote turnouts for your railroad can be a very tedious and difficult task, because there’s a lot of them to do on a large layout. Make a control panel that you will be proud of and that is organized well enough that running your trains will be easy.  Take your time on this.  If you can’t operate your railroad well, you won’t be happy with it.


now it’s time to ass the scenery. This is what makes your model railroad layout realistic. Running trains through forests, valleys, over river trestles, and across mountains, through cities, plains, farmland, and other types of landscapes is really what makes your railroad come alive.  It’s definitely part of the “awesome” factor of any model railroad.  You can do a little at a time, in the beginning, just to give a flavor of the basic scenery and then come back and finish it in greater detail later as you have time. Don’t forget to add roads.  Create little mini-scenes in different sections of your layout to make things interesting.  Add a little humor to your scenes when you can.

Add structures

As time progresses, add structures. Designing model kits can be tedious and time-consuming but also very rewarding if you take your time to do them right. If you have a need for a building for which there is no kit, you may want to consider kitbashing or scratch building your model.  Make sure the structures you have chosen are appropriate for the era, locale, and theme. Pick your industries so that they make sense for the railroad in transporting goods from one place to another.

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