Here’s a collection of simple 4×8 HO track plans.
These plans are a great way to get started – and that’s what it’s all about, making a start!
You’ll also see that some of the plans below are better than others for different reasons. It’s all down to what you want out of your layout.
If you enjoy the scenery side of the hobby, you don’t want the track to take up all the 4×8 space, because you’ll want to put in buildings, perhaps roads, streams or rivers… or whatever.
Or perhaps you just want to run trains? There are quite a few track plans that are suited to that.
Then there’s the folk who like to drive themselves mad with shunting layouts.
Each to their own and that’s the great thing about this hobby.
On the layouts below, each square on the plans is 6 inches. They are all 4×8 HO track plans.
This 8×4 layout is a simple as they get – a single loop with sidings. I like it because there’s not much that can go wrong, so it’s a safe bet for your first layout.
The outside curves are a little too close to the edge for my liking – it’s easy to lose a loco over the side if you run it too fast.
Here’s a great example of a simple double loop. You just have to be mindful though, the more track you have, the less room there is for scenery like building and roads.
If want to see just how much scenery you can fit on a 4×8 layout, have a look at Cal’s: 4×8 HO train layout. It’s packed full of scenery, but doesn’t look too busy. He’s got it just right.
This single loop takes up a lot of the table – but I like it just because of its simplicity. You can run your trains and shunt freight around too.
Now this layout looks a little messy as a track plan, but if shunting is your thing, it’ll keep you busy. But again, very little room for scenery.
This one seems a little too simple, right? But that’s the point. Simple is still fun – especially if you are putting something together for the little people to enjoy.
There’s very little running to do with this track plan – it’s more of a shunter. But, there’s bags of rooms for scenery. You’ll be surprised just how many layouts are like this, almost like moving dioramas…
Now we’re back to my fave – the good old solid double loop with sidings. You can run your trains for as long as you like and park the freight up in the sidings too. What’s not to like? Also those sidings give you lots of opportunity to add scenery like engine sheds and industrial buildings. Have a look at the printable buildings and you’ll see what I mean.
Here’s another 4×8 HO track plans double loop that ticks all the boxes as far as I’m concerned. I know there are people out there that would tut at the immaculate straightness of these double loops, shaking their heads and saying, “Tracks aren’t straight in real life.”
Well do you know what? They are right, but they are soon humbled with the age old mantra of all model railroaders: “My layout, my rules.”
Turntable are the best fun. They do take up a lot of room on a 4×8 HO track plan, but I think you have a focus for the scenery which makes it just work.
A solid variation of the 4×8 HO track double loop.
Having a single loop with a turntable does find you a lot more room for scenery.
A figure of 8 is always a safe bet for a first layout. A turnout on an incline (just after on the bridge) is probably not the best idea, but it does break up the layout a little.
My fave figure of 8 on the layout is probably Barry’s from all those years ago: Figure of 8 model railroad.
Another good example of a double loop. The only thing with them, as I mentioned earlier, is that sometimes the outside loops are too near the edge of the table/bench, so you can lose a train over the side if you go too fast, or just derail.
(By the way, here’s a great post on how to stop your trains derailing.)
This may sound like a small point, but when you start paying top dollar for your locos, you won’t want them to fly off the edge.
Another nice double loop. Sometimes, simple is best…
A single loop gives you more room around the edges, and for sidings on the inside too.
Another double loop variation – personally, I really like this layout.
Here’s a small version of a double loop. I like it because there’s very little risk of losing your trains over the side and you have lots of room for the scenery.
This double loop is also one of my faves. It’s busy, but simple, if that makes sense.
And lastly here’s another variation of a small double loop.
As these layouts show, it’s all about what you want out of your model railroad. With a 4×8 HO track plan, it’s a balance between running trains, scenery and getting your head around the wiring.
My advice is just go simple at first.
Put down some track, run some trains, then take it all up and do another one. You’ll soon get a feel of what’s right for you, and how comfortable you are with the wiring too.
But perhaps the best thing about playing with the track, is it’s a start!
The start is everything…
That’s all for today folks.
Please do keep ’em coming.
And if today is the day you stop dreaming and start doing, the Beginner’s Guide is here.
PPS More HO scale train layouts here if that’s your thing.