Ashford could be quickly becoming the model railway capital of the UK after plans were revealed to create a centre of excellence in the town.

Members of the Ashford International Model Railway Excellence Centre (AIMREC) want to build a facility that would rival the National Railway Museum in York. The people involved want to preserve some 60 years of model railway history by celebrating it in all its glory. The group, based in Newtown's old Klondyke Works, believe it could be a huge hit for both the local community and for enthusiasts across the country.

AIMREC wants to showcase 20 permanent layouts along with a number of temporary layouts that will rotate every three months to ensure that the experience remains fresh for young and old visitors. It is not just a case of people observing the train, however, as the group has said that education facilities will also be introduced for school children, undergraduates and Open University students who are studying about the cultural and industrial role of the railways.

Ashford is a proud railway town and is also home to Ashford International railway station, one of the calling points of the Eurostar before heading into the Channel Tunnel. People living in the Kent town are in the envious position of being able to hop on the train and being in the heart of French capital in just two hours.

AIMREC are recognising this fact and incorporated in the 30,000 sq ft purpose-designed building will be a viewing platform where people can watch the Eurostar pass over a viaduct at speeds of up to 160mph. In the main hall there will also be 25,000 sq ft of display space, a lecture and demonstration theatre, a specialist model shop and a cafe overlooking Ashford works.

The group have bold plans for the centre of excellence with members estimating 250,000 visitors in the first year of it opening. They expect this to grow to 500,000 in the fourth year rivalling the 900,000 attracted by the National Railway Museum every year.