The Design of Small Model Railways


I don’t want to maintain a large list of links because nothing is so annoying as clicking on outdated links. (So I let other people do it… ) These links point to sites lots of extra information about the subjects of these pages. Some of them have also lots links.

Real small model railways
I’m not the only one who is interested in small model railways. Here’re some links to other sites showing pictures of real small model railways. Not intended to be complete!

 Building a micro layout step-by-step (English)
This English webpage describes how to build a micro layout. How to do it is ecxtensivily explained with videos. The result is quite exceptional.

 Gateway NMRA (English)
This site contains lots of model railways feet with a North-American prototype. All layouts have an overall size of 4×6 feet or 4×8 feet. I think these layouts are suitable to be modified for an European prototype. Please note the diagonal patterns of streets and rivers to make the layout look larger.

 Micro Layouts for Model Railroads (English)
Carl Arendt was a true master of building very small model railways. His site contains several catching ideas, such as “The Squarefoot” of 28×36 cm² (11″×14″) at 1:22½ scale.

 O. Moro Design (Japanese/English)
A Japanese site with very small model railways. Some layouts are built within small cupboards and cases. Don’t be frightened again by the Japanese language and take a look by yourself.

 Modelbouwwerk (Dutch)
This site contains some beautiful dioramas, one which allows shunting. Worthwhile visiting.

 Andrew’s Trains (English)
This site contains a wide collection of track plans. The purpose of all designs is prototypical shunting of goods cars from and to various industries. Fine ideas for people who want to build shunting layouts themselves.

 Trains, big and small (English; Zweeds: Tåg, stora och små)
Another, great Swedish site describing, amongst others, how a small narrow gauge model railway, named Rake Mining Co., is designed and build. Step by step it is described how the track is built. Even experienced modellers can learn something here.

 The Model Railway Shunting Puzzles… (English)
Much about designing shunting layouts British style, my favourite style. Describes how a small shunting layout is planned, build and operated. Contains links to other plans for shunting layouts on the web.

Non-commercial links

These links are just a selection of my favorite sites with non-commercial societies, clubs etc. These are more or less related to the subject of the Design of Small Model Railways.

  Schynige Platte Bahn (German/English)
A personal homepage showing, amongst others, an excellent model of the Schynige Platte rack railway in Switzerland. Almost everything is scratch-build: rolling stock, structures and landscape, all with extremely convincing results.

 Small Layout Design Discussion Group (English)
Small-Layout-Design is an e-groups mailing list intended for the average model railroader who does not have an entire basement or even an entire room to devote to a layout.

 Marklin Bar & Grill (English)
Marklin Bar & Grill is another e-group mailing list for discussions about model railways of the brand Märklin. For Marklin enthusiasts everywhere! Märklin.

 FREMO (German/English)
My favourite model railroad club, the “Freundeskreis Europäischer Modellbahner e.V.”, is striving to be the best in its class. Has many active mailing lists in German for members. The goal of the club is to promote the hobby of modelrailroading, in particular its creative and active aspects, as well as the personal contacts between modelrailroaders on a interregional and international level.

 Modulegroep Swiss Trak (Dutch)
Another favourite model railroad club about Swiss meter-gauge railways, especially the Rhatian railways.

 Funimag Magazine (English)
The on-line magazine about funiculars. Funiculars are a particular kind of transportation which reminds me of holidays.

 RailServe (English)
For lots of links about DCC see the “Resource Page”, also caters a mailing list about DCC.

Some commercial links

These links point to the manufacturers whose products I’ve used in my plans. The choice of manufacturers is my personal one based on my perception of market share, popularity and usability.

 WinRail (English)
Almost all plans have been designed with WinRail software. I didn’t select this package based on a careful analysis, but it does what it should do. It’s performing well with sectional track systems, but manipulating flextrack can be quite cumbersome.

 AnyRail (English)
But currently I’m using AnyRail software a lot. I choose this software because I looked for a more user-friendly application. It’s very easy for manipulating track pieces and flex-track. But the different font sizes for the article numbers in the overviews is rather ugly.

 Diorama Display Factory (Japanese)
This Japanese company makes Model Railway dioramas, produces layouts and bus dioramas with a distinct Japanese flair. These products are little gems and most of them are for sale. The layouts are certainly an inspiration when designing new plans. Most railway dioramas are in N-scale, the most popular scale in Japan.

 Fleischmann (German/English)
Most trackplans are made with Fleischmann Profi-track. This track system always seems to fit in small spaces. The radii of the trouts are large, compared to other systems. But the rails are Code 100 and the looks of the frogs of the turnouts aren’t that good.

 PECO (English)
Peco track is known for its superior class in ready-made tracks. The geometry of the sectional track system Setrack is toylike, but is usable when space is a premium. Things get interesting when combining Setrack with the much better Code 100 Streamline turnouts. But you’ll need to cut your own lengths out of (flex-)track to make things fit.

 Roco (German/English)
Roco-Line by Roco is very popular in Europe, because it’s probably the most available two-rail track system. The geometry is not bad and there’s a wide choice of turnouts. I particularly like the large radius turnouts, single- and double-slips. My primary objection against this system is the way the turnouts are operated with a moving tie somewhere in the middle. Not prototypical.

 Märklin (German/English)
Märklin is the largest manufacturer of modeltrains in Europe. Most builders of model railways on the continent have started with a Märklin trainset. That’s why I’ve designed some plans with the different railsystems of this supplier. The large assortment of different track lengths makes almost all plans feasible.

 LGB (German)
One plan makes use of LGB track (scale 2m). I don’t have much criticism on these tracks because, for garden railways, reliability is more important than realism. I didn’t hear much complaints about LGB-track, except for its hefty price.

Links to my favourite Swiss railway companies

Here are the links listed about my favourite railway companies in Switzerland. Switzerland has a lot of small railway companies. These companies are worthwhile a visit when on holiday. They’re also very inspirational for your own model railway.

 Dreispitz (German)
This is my favourite railway company in Switzerland. This line only served the freight traffic in an industrial zone near Basel. Almost every industry had his own rail connection. Now the whole area is renovated and the tracks are gone. I plan to model this kind of company.

 Dampfzug Sursee-Triengen (German)
You can hire a real steamtrain at this railway company. It is one of the few railway lines in Switzerland without catenary. Contains also information about the normal operation on the ST. I plan to model this kind of company.

 Orbe-Chavornay (French)
Another independent Swiss railway company that I like very much. The normal gauge OC measures only 3.9 km and can be seen as a freight line with some passenger traffic. In 2007 the OC merged with two of my other favourite Swiss railway companies: the YSC and the PBr.

 Bergbahn Rheineck-Walzenhausen (German)
The Bergbahn Rheineck-Walzenhausen is a “micro” railway company in Switzerland. Almost 2 km track and one railcar are all what this mixed rackrailway has to offer. The remarkable history, first a separate funicular and tramway, in 1958 combined into one rackrailway, makes the RhW unique. In 2006 the RhW merged with three other swiss railway companies: the TB, the RHB and the former AB. The terminus in Heiden of the Rorschach-Heiden-Bergbahn (RHB) is interesting for railway modelers [Seifert, Cyrill: Bahnhöfe der Schweiz].

Links to other railway companies

Here are some links listed about large railway companies in Europe. These sites contain information about modern freight traffic by rail.

 SBB Cargo (German)
From the Swiss SBB Cargo an overview of wagons. Interesting for everyone who wants to rebuild this kind of operation.

 DB Cargo AG (German)
The large European railfreight transporter DB Cargo AG has also a list of goods cars in use. With an overview of all locomotives owned by this company.

 Siemens Mobility (English)
Siemens Mobility sells several shunting locomotives. I don’t expect that a lot of people will buy, but the website gives a good insight in the catalogue of a supplier of locomotives.

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