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What Are the Benefits and Drawbacks of Constructing a Modular Train Layout? 




Some model railroad hobbyists choose to construct in modules rather than construct one large model train layout. The term used is modular train layout, which basically means building a model railroad in sections. 


The big advantage of building a modular train layout is, that the railroad can be dismantled and relocating. This can be handy if you need to move house, or if you want to display your layout at a model train show.  


A modular layout can save you the time and effort of having to build a new railway layout all over again. Model railroaders who rent their homes, or move locations frequently will find building a modular train layout a good option. 


In his "Model Train Scenery and Layout Construction" e-book Robert Anderson includes an excellent section on building modular train layouts.




A modular railroad has other advantages over a fixed layout. The railroad can be easily dismantled for displays at train shows, shopping malls and hobby conventions. A modular system can exhibited to the public, for people who would otherwise never see model trains operating. Most fixed railroad layouts are generally only seen by a few invited guests, who get to visit the home, or an open day at the local model train club. 


Constructing a modular train layout is often less expensive than other types of railroads. They usually have less in the way of mountains and structures, as these can be heavy and complicate the dismantling and relocating process. When properly designed, modules can be set up very quickly, ready to operate in a new location. 


There is no excuse for a modular train layout to be boring. With careful planning you can make good use of available railroad space to provide the best operational interest. They often take up less space too. 

modular train layout

However, there are some disadvantages with building a modular layout. There is a limit to what size can be easily moved, even when the track is made up of movable modules. To avoid disappointment, both size and mobility need to be considered before expanding layout modules.



A modular system can also limit the type of layout that can be easily modelled. Many continuous run layouts with enough operational interest could be too large to move. Point to point / switching layouts are usually more suitable, but not everyone wants that type of train operation.



Anything that gets moved around can be prone to damage, so scenery and structures should be built to withstand movement.



The other thing you will need to think about is; how will you move it? The weight and size of each module will need to be easily lifted and carried by a two people. If you plan to carry it on your own, you will need to allow for this when calculating the size and weight of each module in the modular train layout