Civil Engineering

As for the “Big Railway”, this topic includes track laying as well as the trackbed (formation) and the bridges and structures and, indeed, the whole of the landscape through which the railway is built.


One of the biggest choices to make when planning a garden railway is the height of the railway. Building the trackwork at or near the level of the surrounding ground allows landscaping to blend the railway into the scenery and to give a more realistic appearance. On the other hand, building the trackwork on a shelf four feet or so above ground level makes it easier to watch the trains go by, but there seems very little chance of blending the railway into the garden and, if any stock derails, it has a long way to fall! Navigating around the railway on foot is another consideration. Building at or near ground level makes it easy to step over the track, putting it on a high shelf suggests lifting sections or having to duck under ... and none of us are getting any younger!

I settled on a height of 2'-6" and had a wall built along one side of the garden to form a raised flowerbed, with a large return loop at the far end. This seemed a good compromise that would allow a sensible height for the station and stabling sidings indoors.

The trackbed is constructed from 150mm wide uPVC fascia boarding, supported by galvanised steel brackets screwed to the inside of the block wall. Unfortunately, after a few months over the winter and some warm spring sunshine, I found that the longer lengths had sagged between supports. I have reinforced the longest (and worst) with a similar section screwed to the underside to form a T-section, which seems to have done the trick. I shall probably have to go back and retrofit most of the others.

The track itself is stuck to the trackbed with window mastic, which is UV resistant. It started to let go again after six months and I am trying out ever stronger glues!

More on the construction here ...

Bridges and Structures

The principal structure will be a long masonry viaduct, which will be rendered as realistically as possible.

A secondary structural consideration is the tunnel through the house wall. It is a cavity wall so will be lined with a short length of 150mm diameter plastic pipe. It will be disguised as a tunnel entrance on the outside and as a road overbridge on the inside.


This is Peco Streamline code 100 with nickel silver rail throughout. The rolling stock (wagons and coaches) allocated to the garden is mostly Hornby Dublo with their original wheelsets and this defined my standards.

The curves are set out with transitions to improve appearances and to smooth the entry and exit of my trains but they are not canted.


Track LayoutIndexSignals and Turnouts