Real" Scale Model Building Designs To Enhance
Your Model Railroad Yards
Every model rail yard needs people, trains,
track, machinery and buildings to make it look convincing and real. A smaller rail yard might not
get as much traffic as a bigger yard or interchange, but it still needs some interesting buildings
to complete the scene.
The model railyard buildings featured on
this page would look very much at home in any railroad yard (large or small), because they look as
though they serve a purpose and belong.
The plans for each yard building is available
by download (almost instantly) from this web page. Each plan and design is a PDF file which you can
download and keep on a little memory stick, or save it on your hard drive. By doing that you can
keep the file forever and printout another copy whenever you want. The only restriction (and it
relates to strict copyright laws), is you can't give away, sell, or trade the files or designs to
anyone else. The company does enforce those laws. However, personal-private usage is not a problem
After downloading the PDF you print out the
designs to suit your model railroad scale.
You glue the design to cardboard.
You can use a cereal box, or choose other materials such as foam sheet or corflute (popular and
cheap from DIY stores). Plans for gluing each piece together to form each building is included, as
is a complimentary instruction manual which lists further tips and ideas to help you construct
really good models.
You can purchase these plans as seperate downloads, or take advantage of the
special "6-pack" discount rail yard deal and SAVE 68%!!
5 Considerations When
Model Railroad Staging Yards
1. Will the railroad staging yard be in full view or
A common practice is to hide the rail yard
behind a visual barrier of some kind, such as some elevated scenery, a mountain, or possibly
through into an adjacent room. Some model railroaders position their staging yards below the
baseboard, or in some instances above the layout accessed by a helix.
Whether the rail yard is visible or hidden is
really a personal preference, or may simply be a consequence of space limitations. Staging doesn’t
need to be hidden, and can be designed as an interchange between two parts of the layout (or two
When the staging yard is out of view, the
entrance will sometimes have train tracks disappearing behind scenery, under a bridge, or behind
the backdrop. The operator will still need to see when the train is moving and is clear of
switches. Closed-circuit television or a track occupancy detection system can be used to monitor
trains when yards are completely out of view.
2. Will all industries be visible, or will some industries be out
of sight on the railroad?
If the intention is to operate a lot of grain
hopper cars then it would make sense to include grain silos on the layout, otherwise why have grain hoppers,
unless the silos are maybe located somewhere further away.
A sawmill could be in one part of the layout
and a furniture making factory (that gets lumber from the mill) could be located somewhere else on
the layout. That would provide a reason to have center partition cars, stake cars, and flat cars
operating on the layout. There's no point is just having model railroad tracks appearing to
go nowhere, or not serving a logical purpose.
Including related industries on the layout
looks good visually and gives the railroad a sense of purpose. A coal mine could be at the other end to a port (coal exporting) or
power station (coal user), giving trains a reason to have coal hoppers and
A train could be staged at a coal mine, with
hoppers laden with coal ready for departure. On arrival at the power plant or port (probably on the
other side of the layout) the coal train could drop off its filled hoppers. There could be empty
hoppers waiting on another track (they were dropped off by another train) ready for transporting
back to the coal mine for reloading. Provided there are plenty of empty and filled hoppers, the
coal train(s) could be kept very busy.
However, even though it makes more sense,
related industries don’t need visible. Trains could travel to an “imaginary” out of sight staging
yard where the cars get emptied before returning for more grain, lumber, or
3. How long should each train track in the staging yard
The answer to this will depend on the length of
the average train and how much space is available. One option is to have more tracks, another is to
have longer (but fewer) tracks that can handle several trains at once. The rail yard could have
several tracks each with a different train capacity. Tracks with a ladder connection at each end
are generally shorter than sub tracks.
4. How many tracks should a staging yard have?
However many tracks there are, there will
probably never be enough track for most model railroaders. Train collections expand over the years
and storage usually becomes an issue at some point in time. Some trains might need to be stored
completely away from the layout, with just current operational trains on the layout or parked in a
There should at least be enough tracks for the
required number of trains operational trains, as well as at least another couple of tracks to
handle train arrivals and departures. Trains could potentially be doubled-up with two on each
staging track depending on the track length and access; however operations will probably flow
smoother when each train has its own track.
5. Will a staging yard need loops for turning model
It would look at bit weird for a fully laden
coal train to disappear into the staging area only to reappear later still fully loaded. It would
look even odder if it arrived back at the coal mine with coal filled hoppers. So freight trains
entering a rail yard will usually go there to have cars sorted, or
What happens in the rail yard will depend to a
large extent on the track configuration. Some switching will normally happen during a trains stay
in the yard. Ladder tracks (ladders) could be in place at both ends of the yard to make entry and
exiting the yard easier. Passenger trains could use flyover loops, and freight could use sub
A double-ended yard (with a yard ladder at each
end) will allow for a train to be moved at any time without turning them around, so trains could be
used again during the same op session. However, double-ended yards require more space for the
A stub-ended yard needs less space than
double-ended yards, because it will have a yard ladder at only one end. However, once the train has
entered the track it will eventually have to be backed or pulled out, turned ready for the next op
session. The other option is to turn and swap the “end-of-train” or “head-end”
I hope this helps you build and design your ideal model railroad yard, so that you can become
your own Yardmaster in charge of operating your dream model railroad