The Guide To Lionel FasTrack


Guide To Lionel FasTrack   


FasTrack was introduced in 2003 and is now Lionel's most popular track system. It is easy to assemble, can be used on any flat surface, and has a more realistic appearance than Lionel's older all-metal 3-rail track.  Also, FasTrack is available in many different curve and straight dimensions, and there is an infinite number of layouts that can be built using it.

However, for many beginners FasTrack can be confusing, There are many pieces that perform special functions, and sorting them out and figuring out what is what can be a challenge.

The purpose of this short guide is to provide a basic primer on FasTrack, what the different pieces do, how they work together, and to give some ideas of train layouts that can be built using FasTrack. If you have any other questions about FasTrack, feel free to email us at

Have fun!

Table of Contents

This article is organized into these sections. Just click the box to go to the appropriate section:

Did you listen in math class?  If the answer is yes, good! Because a little basic geometry comes in handy when working with FasTrack.  (If the answer was 'no', read this article twice and then take the 100-question test at the end of the article--just kidding.)

FasTrack is a rigid track system, and the track sections cannot be cut. Therefore, Lionel has designed a multitude of track pieces to meet almost any need. Knowing how the pieces interrelate is important to planning and building a FasTrack layout.

The key concept when working with FasTrack is knowing the angles--all of the curves and crossings except O48 curves work off of angles of 90, 45, 22.5, and 11.25 degrees. O48 uses 30-degree angles.








Since nearly all layouts require the train to make a circle in order to form a continuous loop, it's important to look at the curved track sections first. 

There are five diameters of curvature in FasTrack. There a 3 foot diameter circle (O36), 4 foot (O48), 5 foot (O60), 6 foot (O72), and 7 foot (O84).  O36 is included with most starter sets.  Note that each curve diameter is one foot wider than the one before it.

Curved tracks are sold by the section:

O36--8 sections to a circle (Lionel #12015).  One section makes a 45-degree turn.  Each half section (#12022) make a 22.5 degree turn, and each quarter section (#12023) makes an 11.25 degree turn.

O48--12 sections to a circle (#12043). One section makes a 30 degree turn.

O60--16 sections to a circle (#12056).  One section makes a 22.5 degree turn.

O72--16 sections to a circle (#12041).  One section makes a 22.5 degree turn.  Each half section (#12055) make a 11.25 degree turn.

O84--32 sections to a circle (#12061).  One section makes a 11.25 degree turn.

Note that O36, O60, O72 and O84 track sections are made where multiples of 8 make a full circle, which makes it easy to make these circles symmetrical and work together on a layout.  This is because the curved sections are all made to where they are either 1/8 of a circle (45 degrees), 1/16 of a circle (22.5 degrees), or 1/32 of a circle (11.25 degrees).  However, O48 is made where it takes 12 sections to make a circle (30 degrees). This makes it a bit of a challenge to make O48 work in a layout using multiple curve diameters, because the angle of the curves does not match the other curve sections when making partial turns.



10" Straight



1 3/4"

1 3/8"

1 3/8" w/o roadbed

30 Inch Straight

Straights are pretty easy.  The standard straight section is 10 inches long (#12014), and a half section is available as well (#12024). Most special track sections like block sections and accessory activation sections are also either 10 or 5 inches long, making it easy to substitute a regular straight section with one of these special track pieces. 

Lionel also makes a 30 inch straight (#12042), which helps when building large layouts and long straightaways. 

Three 'fitter' sizes are available--4 1/2 inch (#12025), 1 3/4 inch (#12026), and 1 3/8 inch (#12073 and #12074). The 1/2 inch between the 4.5 inch and the 5 inch section is important when working with crossing sections.



O36 Manual Switch

O36 Remote Switch

O60 Remote Switch

O72 Remote Switch

The traditional footprint of a switch track matches a straight and  a curved section laid atop one another.  This makes it easy to integrate them into layouts.  The O36 switch matches the footprint of one 10 inch straight and one O36 curve, and the wider diameter switches are usually the footprint of one of the matching curves, along with a 10" and a 5" straight hooked together.  All switches are available in both right and left hand turns.

On O36 switches, the last part of the curved section of the switch is a removable 1/4 curve (#12023).  The O60 and O72 switches include extra fitter sections with them.

O36 Switches come with both manual control (#12017 and #12018), where you flip the switch by hand, and remote control (#12045 and #12046), which includes a controller wired to the switch.  All other switches are available only with remote control.



 90 Degree Crossing  

45 Degree Crossing

22.5 Degree Crossing

The three crossings made in FasTrack are 90 degree (#12019), 45 degree (#12051), and 22.5 degree (#12050).  Note that the angles are multiples of one another (22.5 x2 = 45, and 45 x 2 = 90), and that they match the angles of most of the curves as well.


Special Track Sections

There are several special track sections made for FasTrack which perform specific tasks.

Uncoupling tracks (#12020) include a magnet that will activate the Lionel couplers automatically.  An operating track section (#12054) also has the magnet, but it also includes special control rails that activate the Lionel operating cars with plastic slide shoes on the trucks [wheelsets].  The uncoupler track is 5" long, and the operating track section is 10" long. 
The terminal track section (#12016) is a 10" straight with wires to connect to the transformer. Starter sets all include a terminal track section.  The wires can be unhooked and reconnected to nearly all FasTrack straight and curved sections.
The block section (#12060) allows you to isolate power between sections of track. This is the track section you need to connect two loops operating off of separate transformers.  It is 5" long.
The transition section (#12040) allows you to connect conventional O Gauge track to FasTrack. It is 5" long. It has FasTrack connectors on one end and O Gauge track pins on the other.   It does not work with O27.
The accessory activation track (#12029) is used to activate Lionel trackside accessories.  One of the outside rails is isolated, and when the wheels of the train bridge power into this isolated section, it turns the accessory on and off.  The activation section is 20" long when assembled.
Also available is a 10" extension piece for the accessory activation track(#12027).
Bumpers are used on the end of spur sidings to keep cars from rolling off and to give the track a nice, finished look. They are available both lighted (#12035) and unlighted (#12059), and are sold by the pair.  Lighted bumper sections are 5" long, and non-lighted ones are 3 5/8" long.


Grade Crossing Section        Highway Signal Set            Crossing Gate Set

Lastly, three crossing sections are also available from Lionel.  The grade crossing section (#12036) is 10" long and has a simulated road and crossing built into it. They are sold in pairs. The flashing highway signal (#12052) and crossing gate (#12062) sets are 20" long when fully assembled and take the place of two 10" straights on a layout.


All of these track sections can be purchased on our website here or at the bottom of this article.


The FasTrack Book

Lionel 24200 FasTrack Book by Robert Schleicher
For more information, see the Lionel FasTrack book by Robert Schleicher. It discusses more about wiring FasTrack and goes through building an entire layout from the ground up.


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Fitting it all together--Examples of Layouts

Example #1

Click the Diagram to see a larger picture

This little layout, which we call the Double Loop RR, shows how to fit a crossing into a layout.  Take a look at the two parts of the layout outlined in red.  Note that the top leg of the loop, the one running horizontally across the top, includes 30" of straight track (the two 10" straights plus the straight leg of the switch, which is also 10 inches).  Along the parallel leg in the middle of the layout, we also have a 30" straight run, but this one consists of 5 sections of track.  Here we have one 10" straight, a 90 degree crossing, which measures 6 inches long, one 5 inch straight, and 2 of the 4.5 inch straights.  10 + 6 + 5 + 4.5 + 4.5= 30.

This illustrates the importance of the shorter straight sections like the 4 1/2 inch section.  Because the crossing is an odd length relative to all other sections, a special piece is needed to compensate to make the loop match up.

The vertical loop has the exact same arrangement of straight sections.

This plan requires:

  • 6   12014 10" Straight
  • 2   12024 5" Straight
  • 4   12025 4.5" Straight
  • 12 12015 O36 Curve
  • 1   12019 90 Degree Crossing
  • 1  Fastrack LH Switch--12017 (Manual) or 12045 (Remote)
  • 1  Fastrack RH Switch--12018 (Manual) or 12046 (Remote)
  • 2  12023 1/4 O36 curve (included with the switches)
  • Example #2

    Click the Diagram to see a larger picture

    This second layout, designed to go around a Christmas tree, illustrates the need for half curves to make a plan fit.  At first glance the plan appears to be a figure-8, but it is in fact two reverse loops folded over each other.  The top half of the circle is made of six O48 curves.  The two switches are O36, one right and one left.  The two crossings are 45 degrees. Note that because we are using 45 degree crossings in this plan, we needed to connect half sections of O36 curves between the switches and the crossing to line the track up properly (the curves are highlighted in red). 

    Also, note that half curve sections were needed on the outside legs of each loop to close the gap between the turns at the bottom of the layout and the switches (also highlighted in red).  This had to be done because the curves at the bottom of the layout were wider than those at the top, so we had to include the S-turns to get everything to line up.  Studying this plan closely, you will also see that a couple short fitter pieces were used to close a couple small gaps. 

    This plan requires:

  • 6   12043 O48 Curve
  • 12 12022 O36 1/2 Curve
  • 10 12015 O36 Curve
  • 2   12051 45 Degree Crossing
  • 1   Fastrack LH Switch--12017 (Manual) or 12045 (Remote)
  • 1   Fastrack RH Switch--12018 (Manual) or 12046 (Remote)
  • 2   12023 1/4 O36 curve (included with the switches)
  • 4   12025 4.5" Straight
  • 2   12024 5" Straight
  • 2   12026 1 3/4" Straight
  • Example #3

    Click the Diagram to see a larger picture

    This layout is an example of how to connect two different diameters of curves into one layout. It is a folded-over figure 8, and the inner loop is O48, and the outer loop is O60.  Note the use of several fitter pieces on the O48 loop (outlined in red) to achieve the desired distance between the back straightaways of both loops. Also notice that a pair of O36 1/2 curves (also outlined in red) were used around the 45 degree crossing at the bottom.  They were needed because if we tried to use two O48 curves in their place, the plan would not have lined up properly, because of the different angle of O48 curves (see the above section on curves).

    When designing a plan, it is always best to start with the most complex part of the track plan first, and then work your way out. You will find that it is easier to make everything line up with you are finished if you follow this method.

    This plan requires:

  • 18   12056 O60 Curve
  • 12   12043 O48 Curve
  • 2     12022 O36 1/2 Curve
  • 1     12051 45 Degree Crossing
  • 7     12014 10" Straight
  • 11   12026 1 3/4" Straight
  • Example #4

    Click the Diagram to see a larger picture

    This layout illustrates the use of block sections to separate two loops of track and create a two-train layout.  The block sections, highlighted in red, separate the power between the two loops.  The rest of the layout is very straightforward, using regular O36 curves and 10" and 5" straights.  Two 1 3/4" straights are needed, one between the two switches on the inner loop and one on the opposite side of the loop to compensate for the first one.

    This plan requires:

  • 16   12015 O36 Curve
  • 20   12014 10" Straight
  • 6     12024 5 Inch Straight
  • 2     12060 Block Section
  • 2     12026 1 3/4" Straight
  • 2     Fastrack LH Switch--Manual (#12017) or Remote (#12045)
  • 2     Fastrack RH Switch--Manual (#12018) or Remote (#12046)
  • Example #5

    Click the Diagram to see a larger picture

    In this final plan, we see the full integtration of all FasTrack components--switches, crossings, short straights, full and half curves, all creating an interesting, fun to operate layout.  The layout shows that numerous complex arrangements can be formed with FasTrack.  The  1 3/4" fitter sections used are all highlighted in red.  The layout has a pair of reverse loops, a continuous loop, and two figure 8s.

    Also note that despite this layout's apparent complexity, it only uses 3 pairs of switches. 

    This plan requires:

  • 19   12015 O36 Curve
  • 10   12014 10" Straight
  • 5     12024 5 Inch Straight
  • 2     12019 90 Degree Crossing
  • 6     12025 4.5" Straight
  • 11   12026 1 3/4" Straight
  • 1     12073 1 3/8" Straight
  • 2     12022 O36 1/2 Curve
  • 1     12051 45 Degree Crossing
  • 3     Fastrack LH Switch--Manual (#12017) or Remote (#12045)
  • 3     Fastrack RH Switch--Manual (#12018) or Remote (#12046)
  • 6     12023 O36 1/4 Curve (included with Switches)
  • The FasTrack Book

    Lionel 24200 FasTrack Book by Robert Schleicher

    For more information, see the Lionel FasTrack book by Robert Scheicher. It discusses more about wiring FasTrack and goes through building an entire layout from the ground up.


    Make your own Designs!! R&S 40A-LNLFST FasTrack Layout Design Software DVD
    The software programs used to make the layout plans shown above are all available at  They are easy to learn and a lot of fun to use.  Note that the R&S software also includes 3-D views, with the ability to add scenery, buildings and accessories to the plans!