I Hear a Train a Coming…

‘I hear the train a comin’
It’s rollin’ ’round the bend…”

(with apologies to the late, great Johnny Cash)

Printing and Using Railways in Bolt Action

As soon as railways were widely introduced in the mid-19th century, progressive Armies soon saw the advantage of employing them for both strategic and tactical purposes. The logistical benefit of rail systems to move men and supplies was evident in the American Civil War, and both sides sent out raiding parties to damage their opponent’s rail transport systems. General Sherman’s march across Georgia included a concentrated effort to destroy the Confederate rail system.

The bent rails were called “Sherman’s neckties”

The German tightly scheduled railway mobilization in August 1914 allowed them to rapidly move large troop formations between their East and West fronts, in reaction to the fluid situation on the front lines.

The strategic use of rail systems remained integral to all armies in World War 2, but it was also used in a more tactical sense in most theatres. Partisans frequently made attacks on railway systems and on specific trains, and occupying forces used trains to react to partisan actions.

Train in Bolt Action

The only mention of trains in Bolt Action that I am aware of is in the “Germany Strikes” campaign book. i am quoting from that book below:

  • Trains consist of a number of ‘wagons’ that are attached to each other at the beginning of the game and will remain so throughout.
    Trains may only move along undamaged rail lines. Any railway wagon moving onto a broken line is considered to be destroyed.
    Trains move at the same speed as wheeled vehicles, but there is no reverse: each direction is ‘forward’.
    Wagons with the Unpowered special rule cannot move, unless they are part of a train that includes at least one functional powered wagon (locomotive, etc.).
    Train movement is complex, so the above rule is a simplification. Steam trains can move rather fast but would not do so in a combat zone for fear of derailment if the front wagon hit a mine or section of damaged


  • Cost: 15pts (Regular)
    Weapons: None
    Damage Value: 6+
    Tow: May tow or push other rail wagons

Flat Car

  • A wagon used to transport equipment and more rarely troops or even other vehicles. It could also be pushed, unoccupied, in front of the train to set off mines.
    Cost: 10 pts (Regular)
    Weapons: None
    Damage Value: 6+
    Transport: Up to 12 men or one armoured car
  • Special Rules: ·Unpowered

The book continues on with several armoured trains and the various components thereof, but I want to just focus on “regular” trains themselves, as they provide both good ‘eye candy’ to the table and can be easily incorporated into scenarios or used as an option to bring reserves onto the table.

I will follow on with some suggested rules and point costs for additional rail cars later in this article.

Train models for Bolt Action

There are several train models used by Bolt Action players, varying from re-purposed Christmas train systems, using standard hobbyist 00 or HO trains, and employing resin or MDF systems from various gaming companies.

I have several models from the Sarissa train system, and this is not a knock against Sarissa, who make great stuff and have a huge inventory of available terrain models…. but their train has a track system that has sections that are very awkward to join together on the table, and the track itself is out of scale; the outer measure of the rails is 35mm, which in 1/56th scale is equal to over 7’, while the standard interior distance between the rails for European rail is 4’9” and 5’ for the Russian rail system.

The MDF rail cars and locomotives are restricted due to the nature of .MDF and their construction, at least in my experience, included a fair bit of cursing.

This .stl collection.

So I set out to develop a 28mm scale train system that will allow you to print a complete rail system as well the component of the train itself.

The track system

The system includes five different pieces, to allow a lot of variation in set up. Included are the following

  • Long straight piece
  • Short straight piece
  • 22.5-degree curve (allowing a gradual curve, as train tracks need to do to avoid derailment)
  • A R/R crossing with a mating piece to join with the available roadway system
  • A damaged rail section to represent an attack by enemy ground units or an air strike,

The pieces interconnect with a small coupling that fits into a “C” bracket on the front and rear of each car and locomotive, to allow them to remain in place through normal game play. There is a file for individual rail car couplings, although two are included in each set of rail car wheels file.


The road system shown is available for a free download on this site at this link:


The Train


The locomotive is a generic design, representing a small locomotive with an integral coal tender. I designed it from reviewing common designs used throughout Europe in the 1930s and early 1940s. A locomotive is required to move any and all rail rolling stock.

Cost : Cost: 15pts (Regular)
Weapons: None
Damage Value: 6+
Tow: May tow or push other rail wagons

  • The train’s movement on tracks is equivalent to a wheeled vehicle on a road, so a 24” advance is possible, allowing it to then disgorge its occupants after completing its move; and has no penalty when reversing *

Passenger Car

Again, the design is generic and represents a small passenger car (this isn’t meant to represent a transcontinental railway car, but a small one used for local routes). The roof is removable on the model.

Cost: 24 pts (Regular)
Weapons: None
Damage Value: 6+
Transport: Up to 20 men (no guns, heavy mortars, vehicles)

Special Rules: ·Unpowered

If you consider the proposed rules, the occupants can use the car as “soft cover” if the train is stationary, and as pert buildings, up to two men per opening can fire their weapons. Due to the fact the passenger car has more openings than the box car, the passenger car is costed slightly higher.

The locomotive is followed with the open freight car, the passenger car, the box car and the flat car.

Box Car

Again, the design is generic and represents a standard box car The roof is removable on the model.

Cost: 20 pts (Regular)
Weapons: None
Damage Value: 6+
Transport: Up to 20 men (no guns, heavy mortars, vehicles)

the roofs are removable and hold on with a “friction fit” to the locomotive, the passenger and the box car.

Special Rules: ·Unpowered

If you consider the proposed rules, the occupants can use the car as “soft cover” if the train is stationary, and as pert buildings, up to two men per opening can fire their weapons.

Due to the fact the boxcar has fewer openings than the passenger car, box car is costed slightly lower (a door on each side would allow only two men to fire from each side; the passenger car would allow ten to do so.

Freight Car

Cost: 20 pts (Regular)
Weapons: None
Damage Value: 6+
Transport: Up to 20 men, no vehicles

Special Rules: ·Unpowered,

Flat Car

Cost: 15 pts (Regular)
Weapons: None
Damage Value: 6+
Transport: Up to 20 men, or gun/heavy mortars/AFVs up to 8+ armour

Special Rules: ·Unpowered, no cover bonus if stationary

Suggested Rules –

  • All these cars are 6+ (soft skinned) vehicles, but the rail cars (except the flat car) provide “light cover” to the occupants when the train is stationary and there are troops inside the cars. This is to reflect that the occupants have some cover, and a train is much more conducive to firing from than a tarped truck.
  • When the train is moving occupants fall under the rules of firing at vehicles as per Bolt Action rules.
  • Also, train tracks are supported by revetments of crushed stone, which raises them above the ground to ensure the rail bed is level. As such, I suggest that any unit that is abutting the train pieces receives light cover to any enemy fire across the train tracks.

Suggested Scenario

The following is a Railway themed scenario that I have play tested and adjusted; it is intended as more in the line with fun than historical recreation, but it works well, is a lot of fun and it uses some less commonly seen Bolt Action units and weapons.

Von Ryans Express Scenario Play

VonRyans Express table set up

Where can I find these stls?

The stls are available as both a separate train system (the locomotive and the four different rail cars) and a separate track system ( the five different track pieces) as well as a package with the entire train and rail system at a discount. This offers someone who just wants the train tracks as a terrain feature to buy the .stl for that; while someone else may wish to buy the train stls alone and rework the wheel spacing to fit a track system they currently own. The whole package (trains and track) is priced at a discount.

I also have an armoured train system being test printed and will have it loaded within a few weeks. It will work on the same rail system.

Complete Train locomotive and rail cars (x4) package


Track system only


Train locomotive and rail cars (x4) only



  • I feel that I am an 12 year old boy trapped in the body of a much older man, and I am an enthusiast for tabletop miniature gaming as well as 3D design of AFVs and wargaming terrain pieces. I assure my spouse that it is all still cheaper than buying a Harley and wearing leather chaps. My original 3D .stl files are available at https://www.wargaming3d.com/shop/ the range includes unique WW2 AFVs, transports, gun and tabletop wargaming terrain.

4 thoughts on “I Hear a Train a Coming…

  1. briansmith446 says:

    I think the train and tracks are a great idea (just bought the set) I see that Wargames Atlantic will shortly be releasing a 28mm box of resistance fighters. Now that combined with the train could make an interesting scenario.

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