Posted by Railway Model Store Team on 24th May 2021

Where to start with a model railway layout?

Buying a train set is the ideal way to start your model railway collection, but what other Hornby products are available to help you take that first step from train set to model railway? Whether building your first TrakMat layout, or extending your train set to a larger model railway layout, the basics are the same - you need to know how to lay down track, add electrical connections and scenic your layout.

Hornby Track Mat

All Hornby train sets come with a TrakMat - a scenic underlay sheet which you can use as a base for your layout at any stage in its development . A TrakMat also tells you where to put the track, buildings and other accessories to complete the full TrakMat layout.


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Wherever you use your TrakMat, it must have a firm base to be put on. The easiest way of doing this is to construct a baseboard. There are many ways of building a baseboard, but the most popular and standard construction is to use a top surface of insulation board such as Sundeala, with a supporting frame of softwood battens (minimum 50mm x 25mm) running along and across the underside of the board at intervals of 600mm or less.

This type of baseboard can be constructed to almost any size and shape, although for a TrakMat layout, the baseboard will have to be a minimum of 1800mm x 1200mm (6ft x 4ft) in size.

Extending the Layout

This is the best part about the railway modelling, and it is that the opportunities of extending the layout are literally endless. One of the problems that most collectors are facing, is that the fact that they get to a point where there is not enough space to build the layout anymore.

The easiest way to extend the layout is by adding track to the layout and making it larger. There is a possibility to get better value for money with a selection of extension packs, that generally include all you need to create a specific part of the layout.

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Adding Accessories

Any layout must have space to add a variety of buildings, scenery, figures and more. This gives live to the layout and makes it more authentic. There are several aspects to accessories and your possibilities are endless. We recommend creating a theme around your layout, such as time eras or replicating your local town.

We outline some of the accessories that we recommend to use together:

  • platform, station building and signal.
  • water tower, railway cottage, and various trackside accessories.
  • larger curved platform and platform shelter with luggage and accessories.
  • loading shed, railway cottage and trackside fencing.
  • goods shed, signal box and signal.


Power and Control

Once you have your baseboard built, TrakMat fixed down and track in place, it is a simple task to plug in Hornby's standard power supply system - the transformer plugs into the controller, the controller plugs into the power clip and the power clip plugs into the track - all these items come with your train set.

However, to control the full TrakMat layout, you will need at least one more controller, so you can control two trains or more at the same time on different circuits. The Hornby HM2000 controller is a complete transformer and speed control unit in one, with built-in control for two separate trains and bi-directional running.

If you are looking for much more control over your layout and want to build a scalable layout with many different locomotives, points and digital accessories. Then we recommend going for a DCC layout, that will also require decoders for the locomotives (or get DCC-fitted locomotives and points) to make use of this system. We recommend going for z21 as the basis for your DCC layout. VIEW HERE

If you are looking to create a model railway layout or extending the current layout, Railway Model Store, offers everything that you need to help you grow your model railway layout.