Model Railway Buying Advice
Buying your first model railway can be a bewildering experience: do you go with N gauge, O gauge or
OO gauge; should you build a simple oval or something more complicated?
Of course, there is no one answer to these questions, as what you buy depends on who you are buying
for and how much you have to spend. The type of layout and gauge will be determined primarily by the
space you have, but also by how realistic you are looking to make it.
If you're buying for a child, OO gauge is the best to start with. Although N gauge is smaller and
leaves more space for a larger layout, it can be fiddly to work with and could leave the child
frustrated. OO is also cheaper than N gauge, so if the model railway does turn out to be a 9-day
wonder you won't necessarily have spent a lot of money on it.
For adults, it does just come down to space. If you've got a whole attic to play with, go with OO
gauge as you won't gain any benefit from the smaller N gauge.
For a beginner, the best layout to use is the good old oval. No, it's not realistic, but for the
average model railway an oval makes the best use of space. If the model railway is for a child, I
would recommend adding a siding - watching a train just going round and round isn't too much fun when
you've got DVDs or an XBOX sitting in the other room, but being able to control where the trains go
and adjust the points, that's much better.
Whatever layout you decide to use, start small. It's far better to complete a small model railway
than to have a big, ambitious project left half-finished.
How Much To Spend?
How deep are your pockets? As they say, a model railway is a table that you throw money at. Whether
that's a large or small amount is entirely up to you. For a first model railway for a child, I would
expect to spend somewhere in the region of £50-£70. This enough to get a reasonable size oval track,
an engine, 3 or 4 carriages and some scenery. If it turns in to a hobby that sticks, it can always be
If you're buying for yourself rather than as a present, budget on spending £200-£300. It really is
the case that you get what you pay for, and if you're sure that model railways are something you will
take to, the initial outlay will be worth it.