What is Narrow Gauge Railway Modeling?

Railways have been an essential part of commute for as long as one can remember; it is easily accessible and a comfortable medium of transportation. People often appreciate the role railways play in their day to day life. Someone who travels through trains can easily observe and distinguish the different lengths of tracks present in a railway.

The details and different lengths of track placement make a huge difference. Tracks are placed at wide or narrow distances; knowing this information might make you curious about the reason behind it. Well, we have the answers for you.

What is a Railway Gauge?


The minimum vertical distance between the inner sides of two railway tracks is known as a railway gauge. In other words, the particular distance between two rails is termed as the gauge of a railway track. A standard-gauge length used by most railways in the world is 1,435 mm (standard gauge).

Railway gauges are classified into four broad types, which are:

  1. Broad gauge.
  2. Meter gauge.
  3. Narrow gauge.
  4. Standard gauge.

Although they might look the same, each type has a specific distance between the tracks and fulfill several functions. Some gauges provide better stability, while others have a reduced installation cost. Railway gauges are also affected by many factors, such as traffic condition, area, speed of the train, and rolling stock.

Most countries do not stick to one fixed rail distance when building a railway track. It is changed depending on the area and mode of use.

This article discusses a narrow railway gauge in particular, how it is modeled, and why its modeling is necessary.

Narrow Gauge

A narrow-gauge has a short distance between the rails of a railway track; they are also called a small line gauge. In a narrow-gauge railway, the distance between two rails is either 762 mm or 610 mm. The principal decision of choosing this type of gauge railway depends on engineering and political factors.

Many countries have produced railway tracks of long distances, such as a 1500 km from a narrow gauge rail route. Developing countries are seen to have many small line gauge routes initially, which are further developed into a standard or broad gauge.

Narrow-gauge railway routes have relatively low engineering or work cost, making it a suitable candidate for low weight bogie passages. Engineers involved in building these routes have less to look after in the long run; this also helps save national reserve by limiting access.

Lightly populated areas that demand physical growth are more likely to have narrow gauge railways. These types of railways are often built as resources to save transportation costs. Few areas with industrial mining or plantation have narrow railway gauges. This step helps lower costs without cutting corners. A narrow-gauge railway also improves accessibility to transport goods.

Many examples of narrow gauge railways are found worldwide as it is a type of gauge used in several railway models.

Railway Modelling

It is a type of project that uses a variety of scales and gauges to represent a miniature lookalike of a real railway track. Railway modeling has two main components, a scale, and railway gauges. These components are chosen together.

The scale virtually demonstrates the actual size of the original track. It explains the detailed proportional ratio and a linear dimension of the real project. The representative form of a scale can be through a 3D model or a drawing.

A railway gauge is also known as a track gauge; it is the inner distance between two rails of a railway track. Most railway models use a standard sized gauge. Choosing the right combination of scale and gauge is necessary to make a correct working model.

The use of a narrow gauge with appropriate scales makes a narrow-gauge railway model.

Narrow Gauge Railway Modelling

Narrow gauge railways are between 600 to 1,607 mm. The successful modeling of narrow gauge always requires the best combination of scales.

This type of modeling is perceived as a popular modeling aspect in many countries. It is used for the sole purpose of display but is also an excellent working prototype.

The reason behind the popularity of this model is visible scales and a small layout. These qualities make this model effortless to work. The narrow gauge model also supports tighter radius curves that do not take up a lot of area and easily fit into small spaces. The size of the model can also handle frequent changes, which makes it very convenient.

Due to being a massively favored model for a long time, there are many ready-made combinations of scales available for narrow gauge railway models. It means that following this model does not require everything to be built from scratch. Every country’s local model railway market is crowded with narrow railway models.

Benefits of Narrow Gauge Model 

The introduction of a variety of scales has made the narrow gauge model very accessible. The most sought-after model of this type is Bachmann’s On30 model. This model is a prime representation of a large-scale railway track built with narrow gauges.

Countless working examples of narrow gauge modeling are found throughout the world. Many engineers and modelers have presented a few reasons why they are attracted to narrow gauge railway modeling. The benefits are discussed below.

  • The narrow gauge model is ideal for mountainous regions. It helps create railways on steep country crossing present on high altitude areas. It is significant for connecting small, isolated communities to the city.
  • It is easy to operate and doesn’t require a lot of technicalities. The routes can be short or long, and the model is simple to edit.
  • It does not require a lot of materials to prepare and operate the prototype. The minimum requirements are one engine, about six carriages, and a small railroad.
  • Due to the ease of preparation, modelers can have a lot of creative freedom with the narrow gauge model. You can smartly pay attention to all the small details to make it near perfection.
  • It is the only model that has the least number of limitations while being very distinctive.
  • All wagons included in the model can be the same, as it doesn’t require a lot of variety.


Railways with small inner rail distance are called narrow gauge. This modeling is a unique way to demonstrate a working framework without losing creative freedom. It has a lot of benefits and can form large railway networks.