Many of our customers who are novice model railroad collectors get a little confused about the different types of track on the market. Adding to the confusion is the fact that different manufacturers have different names for their track. Bachmann has EZ Track, Life-Like has Power Loc Track, Atlas has Tru Track to name a few. They are all types of track that have a plastic roadbed attached to them, and are relatively simple to set up and operate. Most come in a choice of steel alloy or nickel silver rails.
Conventional track, that is track without roadbed attached, has the most authentic appearance, especially when mounted on a cork or synthetic roadbed. You can get conventional track in steel alloy, brass or nickel silver. The difference lies in the properties of each metal. Steel is a good conductor of electricity, but it can rust, especially in a damp environment. Brass conducts electricity better than steel, but it can tarnish easily and needs to be cleaned frequently to work its best. Nickel silver combines the conductivity of brass in a metal that is also rust and corrosion resistant. Nickel silver is also the most expensive type of track, but most model railroad enthusiasts will agree that the improved performance and low maintenance are worth the extra cost.
Different types of track can be connected together, although we advise against mixing the different metals on the same track circuit. Part of the benefit of using brass or nickel silver is to maximize the flow of electrical current, and mixing them together mitigates a good deal of that benefit.
Whatever type of track you decide to use, you will still want to clean it from time to time. You can invest in the best nickel silver track on the market, but if it isn't kept clean, your trains are not going to get maximum power.