Trains

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DID YOU KNOW?
The longest continuous stretch of LEGO train track was 2.5 miles long and was made by Henrik Ludvigsen, from Roskilde, Denmark and completed in 2013. It took a train 3 hours and 22 minutes to complete a single lap of the track


LEGO trains are one of the most popular (or at least most organised) themes of System-scale models amongst AFOLs. Whilst officially Trains was originally a theme of its own in the LEGO stable, it was moved first to the World City category, containing both the former Town and Trains themes, and then to the City theme.

As its name suggests, this theme primarily encompasses train sets, although it also covers some associated structures, signalling and, of course, train tracks.

History

Timeline of LEGO Trains
Blue era (1966 - 1979)
  • 1966 - First trains launched
  • 1969 - 12V trains released

Grey era (1980 - 1990)
  • 1980 - Automatic signalling introduced alongside 12V line

9V era (1991 - 2007)

RC era (2006 - 2008)
  • 2006 - New RC train sets

PFT era (2009 - )
  • 2009 - Emerald Night
  • 2010 - New PFT train sets
This timeline covers some of the more important milestones in LEGO Trains developement.


Lego trains have been through a number of different changes, which can be roughly summed up in three major eras. Unlike most other themes, where AFOLs tend to use the latest pieces, some people continue to use older varieties of trains due to personal, historical and practical reasons.

The Blue Era (1966-1979)

The first era was characterised by blue rails and white ties (sleepers). Wheels were often red. Both 4.5V (battery powered) and 12V (powered using add on center conductor rails) sets were available during this era. The switches (points) in this era dictated sleeper to sleeper spacing of parallel tracks.

The Grey Era (1980-1990)

The second era, characterised by dark grey ties (sleepers) and light grey rails. Wheels were red or black. Both 4.5V (battery powered) and 12V (powered using addon center conductor rails) sets were available during this era.

The 9V Era (1991-2007)

This marked the end of the earlier two voltages. This era was characterised by integral molded dark grey rail/tie assemblies with metal conducting rails. The line was renamed Hobby Trains by LEGO in 2006 to differentiate it from the Infrared line introduced that year. Despite the efforts of the Save 9V Trains campaign the line was discontinued in 2007 due to high production costs and low sales compared to other LEGO product lines.

The RC Era (2006-2008)

Beginning in late 2006, LEGO introduced a range of battery powered Remote Control (RC) trains. These trains use Infrared (IR) for communication with the remote. They run on track almost identical to 9V track but without the metal conducting strip. Many trainheads feared that this heralded the end of the 9V system although The LEGO Group claimed they would be continuing to sell track, motors and accessories as Shop-at-Home exclusive products.

The PFT Era (2009- )

In October 2007, LEGO announced it would be discontinuing both RC and 9V trains, in favor of a new system using Power Functions that would also be used across the Technic line.

The new system was introduced in 2009 with the release of the Emerald Night (10194) train. Complete train sets followed, which included the introduction of a new 'flexible track' to complement the range of track carried over from the RC line.

The PFT system included many advantages over the discontinued RC system, including IR receivers and battery boxes being seperate components (rather than incorporated into a 'train base' plate), 8 effective control channels rather than 3, an optional rechargable battery pack, and the use the smaller (AAA rather than AA) cells in the standard battery back.

Famous LEGO sets

There are a number of famous LEGO sets in the trains line. These include the

See also the category Famous sets.

AFOL Developments

Due to its popularity as a theme, and the organised structure amongst AFOLs, the train theme has diverged somewhat from its original LEGO incarnation. This can be observed by noting a number of developments such as

The International LEGO Train Club Organization (ILTCO) has coordinated efforts across different train clubs culminating in some of the largest showings of Lego Trains at the National Model Railroad Association sponsored National Train Show in Cincinatti, Ohio USA in July 2005, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in July 2006, and in Detroit, Michigan in July 2007.

International modelling

Due to the vast differences in Rolling stock between countries, LEGO train design tends to vary from place to place. Some of the most popular countries amongst modellers are the USA and Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and France whilst many other countries have less stock modelled.

DUPLO trains

LEGO also produce a range of DUPLO Trains trains for younger builders. A license for Thomas the Tank Engine was begun in 2005 which may herald the end for regular DUPLO trains.

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