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I cannot currently access any Lego trains, and the product range offered in the trains category in these years is rather ... disheartening. Nonetheless, I do not rule out the possibility that things might look brighter again in the years to come, in time for my children to still enjoy Lego railroads.

While picking/modifying some furniture for my children's rooms, I would like to make sure the clear height undernearth is just sufficient for minifig-scale trains to pass through, so as to not obstruct any future tracks.

How many centimetres of clear space do I have to plan for?

Let's restrict this a little bit so it becomes a more well-defined question:

  • I do not reckon with minifigs or anything else standing on the roof of trains.
  • Fixed "installations" should be "usable", though - that is, the height of pantographs should be measured in such a way that they look "realistically extended"; neither completely retracted nor extended as far as the hinges allow.
  • The train should be measured while standing on the tracks, but without anything else underneath (i.e. not even a baseplate).

Furthermore, I'd like to suggest a reference list of sets that the answer should be valid for (though, as I'm picking these only visually, without any concrete trains at hand, feel free to suggest deviations or pick equivalent sample trains):

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LEGO tracks are 12mm high, train wheels go below the true height of the track and so in reality only add 7mm of height.

The structure gauge (also known as clearance) tolerance will obviously be a lot lower than real life. You could perhaps get away with 1/3 a brick clearance but having at least one or two bricks height clearance at minimum is best.

Here are a few measurements for different types of trains.

Model Name Studs Centimetres Inches
A Amtrak Superliner 17.9 14.4 5.7
B 4551 (Pantograph extended) 16.3 13.1 5.1
C Double-Stack Cart 12.8 10.2 4.0
D Early Steam Locomotive 12.4 9.9 3.9

I have used Bricklink Studio to render and calculate these measurements. The models used can all be found in the model library.

Dimension and weight statistics for models can be displayed under Tools > Mode Information so if you can find a model for the train you are interested you can check using this software.

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    those are wonderful looking train designs. I wish lego would release more official sets of trains – qwr Apr 4 at 3:56
  • OP asked, "How many centimetres of clear space do I have to plan for?" So would the answer (for the tallest car shown) be 0.7cm + 14.4cm + 1.0cm = 16.1cm? – nanoman Apr 5 at 0:19
  • I don’t think it would be for me to say as it’s entirely based on what kinds of models you expect to run. The tallest one for example is a very rare exception as it’s a double deck passenger carriage. Yes, that would be the general formula. 0.7cm + Carriage height + clearance tolerance. I think if you do not intend to have such a tall model there is no need to make big changes to the height of furniture. 15-16cm is plenty. – Ambo100 Apr 5 at 2:16
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Several of the trains include a diagram showing their size:

10277 size

60197 size

It obviously varies somewhat from train to train. Somewhere around six inches or 16cm should be sufficient for most trains.

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    Crocodile Locomotive (10277) set has a base with couple of plates underneath train track. Overall height will be slightly lower. – Alex Apr 3 at 19:36

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