TLRS N Gauge Standards - British

SCALE/GAUGE NAME N Gauge Prototype
SCALE - British 'N' Gauge1:1481:1
Standard track gauge9mm4ft 8 1/2in
Rail profileCode 80 or Code 55Grooved girder
Groove width, straight track1mm1 1/4in
Groove width, curved track1.25mm1 1/2in
Minimum radius curve, older trams75mm45ft
Minimum radius curve, modern trams and large bogie cars100mm66ft (20 metres)
Double track distance apart (track centre lines)25mm8ft 6in
Recommended to 'N' gauge commercial standardsCommercial standards------
Back to back7.51mm------
Minimum height above road40mm20ft
Wire type and diameterNickel silver 0.3mmCopper 0.32in
Length of traction pole above ground55mm25ft
Distance apart of traction poles on straight track75mm average120ft(maximum)
Distance apart of traction poles on curved trackAs requiredAs required
Position of overhead wire relative to track, trolley poles. Straight trackOver centreOver centre
Position of overhead wire relative to track, trolley poles and pantographs centrally mounted on long bogie cars (like Blackpool). Curved track.Over inner railTo a complex formula
Position of overhead wire relative to track, bows and pantographs over bogie pivots. All track.Over centreOver centre
Ear, frogs and crossings. Use 'OO' gauge commercially available items from Mark Hughes.Use Commercial items.Various
Trolley wheel (actually fitted as non rotating, operating as a skid). Use 'OO' gauge commercially available items from KW Trams.Use Commercial items.Various



The recommended track is either Code 80 or Code 55 solid nickel silver, flat bottomed. Flexible track, points and crossings of both these types are produced by Peco and are recommended.


The width of tramcar wheels are much less than railway wheels, with a smaller flange and flange depth. However, in 'N' gauge to use exact scale wheels would require very precise track construction and wheel setting. To get reliable running, most modellers use normal 'N' gauge commercially available wheels and track, that is to the rather coarse scale railway standards. Although the wheels and groove are much wider, visually it is acceptable. In 'N' gauge it is usual for modellers to use the most suitable motorised chassis available. For example the Bachmann Brill and PCC chassis for bogie cars and Kato motor units for four wheel cars.


There are no ready made traction poles available commercially. So make your own from 2mm diameter brass or steel rod. The poles should allow an extra 15mm at the base for fixing to the baseboard. Holes should be drilled in the baseboard to give a push fit for the poles. In "Distance apart of traction poles on straight track" we recommend that the poles are closer than prototype, as this increases the apparent length of small layouts and makes them look more realistic and interesting.

Overhead ears and frogs in 'OO' gauge are made by Mark Hughes. Though slightly too large they are visually acceptable for 'N' gauge.

Working trolley poles will need to be scratchbuilt, though parts from commercially available 'OO' gauge poles can help. These are made by KW Trams. Many 'N' gauge tramway layouts have overhead wiring but dummy trolley poles.

Pantographs used by tramway modellers are always commercially available items from the model railway field. It is not worthwhile trying to scratch build this item.


The standard power supply is 12 volts DC, using model railway controllers. The recommended controller is the electronic feedback type and the handheld (HH) from Gaugemaster has been used with great success. It requires a separate 16 volt AC supply from a transformer (also available from Gaugemaster). The controller is very small and can be carried around the layout with ease. The usual mode of operation in 'N' scale is to use the two rail system of supply, just like the model railways.


List of TLRS standards for other scales.

Go to ---> Top of page Contents Back

Reload Home if you linked directly to this page

© Copyright Tramway & Light Railway Society 2020