Every modeler has their own perspective on the "proper" speed for a model train. Not only is speed a matter of taste and opinion, it can vary greatly depending on the scale of the train and even your viewing perspective. Have you ever noticed the closer you get to a normal viewing level the faster the trains seem to be moving?
Pacing this train in a car across the plains of Kansas, it was easy to determine its speed. But how about the trains on your layout?
©2012 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.
But what if you want something slightly more scientific? Fortunately with a little math, you can figure out a range of scale speeds based on the scale of your train. Even more fortunately, I've done all the math for you!
Check out this new article where you'll find a more detailed explanation of scale speed, scale miles, and how you can measure it on your railroad. Along with it, there is a complete table for G, O, S, HO, N and Z scales in both miles and kilometers per hour.
The speeds in the tables are calculated based on the length of time it will take a train to travel a given distance. To keep the numbers more reasonable, I've had to vary that distance for some of the scales as shown in the top of the grid.
To make use of the chart, simply place two markers beside your track at the specified distance, then time your trains! There is probably a lot more detail here than you'll really need. You can round the figures off or even adjust the distances to fit your needs. At least the "hard" work is done for you!