Module Design: Track

Now that I’ve started finding some interesting locations it’s about time I started thinking about the steps needed to turn those location into working modules.

I suppose the first thing to think about is track. The FremoN-RE modular standard I’ve adopted offers plenty of guidance (a.k.a rules) on what’s acceptable. However I’m already thinking I’ll probably need to bend at least one of these rules to build what I can see in my head…

So here’s a list of the track related rules that need to be considered when designing the layout and track plan of a FremoN-RE module:

  • Maximum of Code 55 rail.
  • Minimum radius of non-mainline tracks (48cm/~19in).
  • Minimum radius of mainline tracks (120cm/~47in).
  • Track must be located in the centre of the module on the edge of a module or collection of modules.
  • Track must be securely fixed at the ends of the modules.
  • No banking/super-elevation on curves.

Code 55 Rail

Meeting the code 55 rail requirement shouldn’t be a problem. Atlas produce a range of code 55 track and switches that are prototypical for North American models and Peco produce a range of code 55 track and points better suited to UK/European prototypes.

Minimum Radii

Achieving the minimum radius of the mainline tracks should be possible but it’s going to take more space than I expected. You can take a look at some corner module plans with dimensions below:

2 Module 48cm Radius Corner (70cm x 70cm)
3 Module 100cm Radius Mainline Corner (120cm x 120cm)2 Module 48cm Radius Corner With Y Switch (90cm x 90cm)

Track Placement

The track placement requirement is only an issue on the edges of modules that need to join with other modules. Track position on the edges of modules that form part of a set that are always connected together can be a bit more flexible. See below.

Super Elevation

While it’s not an issue for North American industrial switching modules, I’m not happy about the no super-elevation rule for the European modules I wanted to make. Trains looked great running through the super-elevated Kato track I have used in the past so for mainline European modules I think I’m going to ignore that rule. The only downside is I probably couldn’t attend a modular event with the super-elevated modules.

Other Considerations


As you may have noticed, the FremoN-RE standards don’t mention a minimum radius or divergence for points/switches. Generally the bigger the better when it comes to realism but as I don’t really have an interest in scratch-building track work I’m going to need to use off-the-shelf products.

A bit of research uncovered this interesting webpage about track geometry. The information shows that Peco Streamline Code 55 medium radius points have a radius of 457mm and large radius points have a radius of 914mm. So that just about matches FremoN-RE minimum radius standards listed above.

Atlas Code 55 turnouts have straight diverging routes rather than the curved routes of Peco turnouts and best I can find, an Atlas #7 turnout is roughly equivalent to a Peco medium radius turnout and an Atlas #10 turnout is roughly equivalent to a Peco large radius turnout.

All this means that I’ll add two new rules:

  • Minimum of large radius/#10 switches on mainline tracks.
  • Minimum of medium radius/#7 switches on non-mainline/industrial tracks.

Track At Module Ends

Track at the edge of a module needs to be centered and straight. I couldn’t find a recommended length for this straight section on the FremoN-RE website but the Free-moN standards document states 4-inches (about 10cm) which seems reasonable enough.

That’s it for now.

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