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QUOTE (Expat @ 13 May 2008, 13:30) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>1) How much space you have available
2) What scale/gauge you intend to model in (OO/HO, N or something else)
3) The type of layout you want - (End to end/branch line/terminus style or a tail chaser).
4) What type of control you plan to use (DC or DCC)
That's a good list to start with and you really only need basic DIY skills to build the baseboards.
Buy some other magazines too like Model Rail or Railway Modeller they are good for adverts and ideas.
Sketch some ideas and post them on here and you'll get all sorts of ideas and opinions, just remember it's for your entertainment at the end of the day so run what you like.

I would recommend OO as the majority of the vehicles you mention are 1/76 scale anyway and you have all the ready to run RTR stuff available for railway stock from Hornby and Bachmann.
The advantage is that there are so many good off the shelf products now that you really can make a good model and learn more skills as you go along. Buy some Skaledale buildings to get started then have a go at something like a small Wills Kit, change a few bits like adding posterboards or a an extra door and before you know it you'll be a skilled modeller!

Track, I would recommend PECO they do settrack which is preformed for curves and probably the easiest to use to begin with. They also do flexible track which can be bent to any curve you want but when you bend it you will need to cut the rail to length at the ends. You can use a razor saw, Cutting disc in a mini drill or some special hand cutters like the Xuron cutters, to cut rail to length.
Hornby do there own set-track but while the track is fine the PECO points are much more robust.
PECO do two sizes of rail, CODE 100 Blue boxes,and CODE 75 Finescale Yellow boxes, CODE 100 is compatible with Hornby track and stronger

Baseboards, A simple 2x1 or 4x1 wood frame with 9 or 12mm plywood on top with supporting cross braces every 1 1/2 to 2 feet should provide sturdy boards for the layout.

There are a lot of good books on the market about baseboards, track and wiring and control have a look at the Ian Allan website modelling section (midland counties publications).

Definitely worth considering DCC for controlling locos but it's not essential if you don't like electronics.
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