Railway modelling (UK, Australia, Ireland and Canada) or model railroading (US and Canada) is a hobby in which rail transport systems are modelled at a reduced scale, or as realistically as possible in 3D utilizing self-defining graphical objects in V-scale or Virtual scale modeling rendered in a virtual world by a compatible graphics engine.
The scale models include locomotives, rolling stock, streetcars, tracks, signalling, and roads, buildings, vehicles, model figures, lights, and features such as streams, hills and canyons. In a physical model, the objects are built of materials, in V-scale by a combination of scripts, sounds, rules, textures and polygon meshes using graphics modeling software such as Gmax or Blender. Both physical and graphics modeling take painstaking effort, knowledge and special skills. Many Model Railroad Clubs utilize both technologies in group activities.
The earliest model railways were the ‘carpet railways’ in the 1840s. Electric trains appeared around the start of the 20th century, but these were crude likenesses. Model trains today are more realistic. Today modellers create model railway / railroad layouts, often recreating real locations and periods in history.
Involvement ranges from possession of a train set to spending hours and large sums on a large and exacting model of a railroad and the scenery through which it passes, called a “layout”. Hobbyists, called “railway modellers” or “model railroaders”, may maintain models large enough to ride.