Model Railroad Track Plans

Sometimes the most challenging part of building your first, or next, model railroad is deciding where to lay the track. If you're having trouble designing your own track plan. these plans may be the inspiration you need to get started.

  • 01 of 07
    city of industry
    The "City of Industry" lives up to its name with ample opportunities to put your switcher to work. ©2012 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.
    HO is the most popular scale. You can accomplish a lot in a relatively small space, while still being large enough to appreciate details and enjoy reliable operation. Whether it's long trains on winding mainlines or an industrial switcher going about its chores, HO layouts can take any form that fuels your interest.
  • 02 of 07
    dog bone
    The small size of N scale allows a long mainline, branch line and several industries on a 4x8 with room to spare. ©2014 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.
    At nearly half the size of HO, you can pack a lot of railroad in a small space with N scale. Whether it is a small and portable platform, or capturing big scenes on a larger layout, N scale has a lot to offer.
  • 03 of 07
    over under oval
    An over-under double oval adds excitement to this simple "O" Gauge plan. ©2014 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    O Gauge trains, despite being nearly twice the size of HO, are designed to operate on tight curves so you can get more action into a small space. The third rail means no complicated wiring for reverse loops and easy activation for trackside accessories - which you'll find lot of in this fun scale.

  • 04 of 07
    track plan
    Adding a few switches and track sections to a starter set oval can greatly increase operating interest. ©2014 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.
    A 4'x8' sheet of plywood makes a convenient starting point for a model railroad. You can do a lot in 32 square feet. Here you'll find plans in several scales which are 4x8 friendly.
    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07
    South Street Plan
    The South Street Industrial track features several industries and street running for interesting operations. Paved areas are shown in gray, buildings in brown. ©2012 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.
    Most of us are drawn to the sight of trains running through the countryside but putting together those trains and delivering the goods is just as exciting and can provide an even more interesting model railroad. Instead of watching your locomotive chase its caboose around an oval, switching makes you more than a passive observer and gets you involved in the action.
  • 06 of 07

    Portable Railroads

    track plan
    Thanks to its compact size, the switching on this portable layout is more challenging than it appears. The heavy line down the center represents the hinged joint between the two sides of this portable railroad. ©2012 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.
    Take your trains with you! Portable model railroads can come in many forms and sizes, even scales. They can be a great way to keep your interests alive when you can't settle down or to share the hobby with others.
  • 07 of 07

    Prototype Track Plans

    ZTS chart
    This track plan, known on the railroad as a ZTS map, reproduces a portion of a real railroad, but it could just as easily be yours. ©2013 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.
    Sometimes the best way to recreate real railroads is to use their own track plans! See how you can use tools like prototype track charts and "ZTS" maps to create your own plans.