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Introduction to Model Railroading - Part I

Updated: Sep 26, 2023

Today we intend to speak a bit about the world of model railroading or railway modelling - and that nomenclature depends on which part of the world you are in. It's a hobby which is not very prevalent in India, and that's why we thought that this would be a good time to bring this into the picture.

So essentially, there are a bunch of people - including us - who never grow up! And then they carry their childhood fascinations into adulthood. And with age a bit of a transformation occurs...

As might be evident from the second picture below, the hobby or passion requires time, effort, money, artistry and not to forget ingenuity.

Image Courtesy : The transformation from your first train to a lifelong passion for trains

Technically though, the owner of a single model has already entered the hobby even if he/she chooses never to progress beyond that. If you buy a train-set (usually a powered train complete with a locomotive and carriages), then you are well and truly into the chakravyuh!

And then you need to have what is known as a layout. A layout is usually a scale model of tracks and scenery through which your trainset can move. This can range from a single straight track to a circular or oval track to a labyrinth of tracks.

The scenery and other decorations are usually modelled with painstaking effort to represent a particular era or region of railroad operation. Take a look at the video below.

You can also check out a rather nice "Delhi to Bombay" themed railroad (here) which is based on the 1960-1970 era and inspired by the route between the two cities at that point in time.

In the UK, the hobby is very prevalent and in the US too. So much so, these countries actually have model railroading clubs where people of all ages get together to drive their trains through beautiful and massive layouts, while following strict protocol and order resembling the actual operation of trains in real life.

A typical model railroad club
The Model Railroad Club of Milwaukee

The Model Railroad Club of Milwaukee. Photo Credit : Jeramey Jannene.

So yes - there are an unbelievably large number of fully-grown men and women in this world who devote an unbelievable amount of time, energy, money and effort to this fascinating and addictive hobby. We do believe that you will too once you are hooked!

We have just scratched the surface of this passionate past-time. Now that you are familiar with some of the terms we encourage you to go and take a look at everything that is out there.

In Part II, of this series, we will introduce you to some of the factors that makes a good train model for a railroad.

(You can find Part II of this post here)

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