Do you have a burning desire to build your own model railway, but don't know where to begin? This article might help you with ideas to start planning and building your dream model railway layout. It can seem a daunting prospect to start from nothing, but here are a few essentials to think about.


Ask yourself what are you most interested in? Is it locomotive building, carriage making, or creating the buildings and scenery. Perhaps a combination of all of these would best decribe your interest. Alternatively, there are thousands of ready made models available if you are not the most confident modeller.


What scale are you going to model in? Obviously, if space is an issue, consider a smaller scale. The range of products available for all scales of model railways means that there won't be too much of an issue buying rolling stock, scenery, buildings and accessories. Scales available range from Z Gauge (a tiny 1:220) to 1 Gauge (an impressive 1:30.5). If your available space is limited, the smaller scales would give you scope to include a lot more within your layout.


A model railway can be a hugely time consuming project, especially if you plan to build most things from scratch. Buying pre-made kits can save time, but many people prefer to attempt to scratch build. Of course this depends on your capabilities.


Even if you are scratch-building everything, the cost of the raw materials can really add up. Do plenty of research on what the likely costs are of what you want to achieve, to make sure you aren't heading towards something that you can't afford.


Where are you going to locate your model railway? This is something that needs to be very carefully considered. Around the home there can be several options. Unless your layout will be portable, or can be packed or folded in some way, then it is likely to be a permanent feature of your home.  Spare bedrooms, sheds and attics are all common locations.  A spare bedroom could make a great place for your layout, but can the room be used solely for this purpose? If guests will need to stay in the room every other week, it might not be very practical! A loft/attic can provide plenty of space, but can be impractical. In the summer the heat can become stifling in a loft and is likely to bend the track of your layout. A lot of thought is required when deciding on your location!

Planning is the key to beginning a successful model railway. Good sources of advice are the internet, there are numerous websites and forums packed with good information, model railway shops, and clubs and societies.