Everyone from Rod Stewart to The Simpsons' Reverend Tim Lovejoy has a love for model railways.

Both collecting and building these sets can become a lifelong hobby and something that you can be truly proud of once completed. While people will attend numerous shows and events celebrating model railways there is nothing better than being able to create an intricate layout in the comfort of your own home. It is something that can be done through a lot of time and effort but the end result can be wholly rewarding.

Setting up the model railway can be the easy part and it gives you a good base in which to elaborate and great creative. There maybe a certain area of the world or famous train line that you would like to recreate. For example, collectors have previously depicted the scene of the Great Train Robbery or something more modern like the approach to King's Cross station in London. Have an idea in mind of what you want to create which you believe is within your skillset.

One way in which to impress visitors is the creation of tunnels. Tunnels are an integral part to the nation's railway network so it would be dismissive not to include them in your own model layout. Having a Brunel-style tunnel mouth will be a really impressive feature to your layout that may already incorporate stations, sidings and miniature towns.

While it may seem like a difficult task creating this type of tunnel it can be rewarding and also removes the need to buy potentially costly accessories simply to put it together. Here is a brief guide to building your own tunnel.


Preparation is one of the key elements to getting your tunnel right. Do some research and find a picture of the tunnel that you want to create but bear in mind the difficulties that come with certain structures. Flat fronted bridges are much easier to replicate than curved ones, especially if you are undertaking this project for the first time.

Make sure to get one that is as straight as possible as this will form the template of the tunnel. You also need to check whether your template is big enough to span the tracks with clearances on either side. Get this wrong and you end up with a tunnel that is not proportional to its true self. There are a number of online software sites that can help you with this part.

Building the tunnel

There are numerous methods to building a tunnel but one of the best is to use 3-5mm ply board. Sketch out your template on to the ply board drawing the tunnel mouths, cut them out then sand into shape. Using the additional ply board you can create the roof of the tunnel but use the mouths as a guide for an entrance and exit allowing you to draw out the shape of the tunnel.

Take 2x1cm pieces of wood to create the join between the tunnel roof and the entrances. By nailing the roof to the topside, you can make a platform for the roof to rest on. Cover the structure with wire mesh and papier-mache to create the rolling hills or urban surroundings you want for your layout.