Multiple Trains Waiting by Station

How to Choose Your Track and Power it

Building a model train track is fun, exciting, and challenging in the best way. There are a lot of different track types to choose from. How are you supposed to know what type of track is right for your model train setup? Choosing the best track depends on the scale of your setup, what type of train you’re using, and how you want it to run. Let’s review some of the most common track types and how to power them.

O Gauge Tracks

O gauge tracks were first designed when kids mostly used model trains. They focused more on durability and ease of use than the realism of the track. O Gauge tracks are tracks that are 1.25” apart. These tracks are powered using either a direct current or a central stud supply system.

Today, O Gauge tracks are popular among collectors because they were one of the first model train tracks on the market. The most common O Gauge tracks are:

  • Lionel Fast Track
  • MTH RealTrax
  • Atlas track
  • Tubular track

HO Scale Track

HO scale tracks are the most popular type of model train track in the world. They’re made using a 1:87 scale and powered using either analog or digital controls. This track is half as wide as the O Gauge tracks and looks much more realistic. HO tracks are popular with beginners because they’re easy to use, but more experienced model train enthusiasts love them too. The most popular types of HO tracks are:

  • Bachman E-Z Track
  • Atlas True-Track
  • Kato Unitrack
  • Lionel Magnelock Track
  • Standard Track

N Scale Track

N scale tracks have 9mm between tracks. N Scale tracks are a bit harder to work with, but the big benefit is that they allow a more complex setup that takes up less space. Unfortunately, they’re more prone to operational issues. These tracks can be powered using the same methods as O Gauge and HO tracks. Choosing a power type really comes down to personal preference, experience level, and the type of layout you’re building. The most common N Scale tracks on the market are:

  • Bachman E-Z Track
  • Atlas True-Track
  • Kato Unitrack
  • Standard Track

You might notice that some of those are repeats from the most popular HO tracks. The tracks are made by the same manufacturer and have the same design, with a different scale.


If you’re interested in model trains, contact Charles Ro today! We can help introduce you to the hobby if you’re new or find the perfect addition to your layout if you’re an experienced model train user. There’s never a bad time trying out new track designs and new power sources and fine-tune your model train setup!

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