Best Electric Train Sets 2021

This post was updated in August of 2021 to include some of the best electric train sets that came out this year.

Electric train sets have been a passion project for millions of people all over the world for a very long time.

And it just so happens to be for a very good reason! That’s where this article comes in! We’re going to go over the best electric train sets that you should consider this year!

Everyone is able to collect and enjoy model trains, and the best part is that you can easily create your own train set with the right gear, a bit of imagination and a can-do attitude. 

Some sets can be massive room-spanning behemoths that take hundreds of man-hours to set up and run properly, others can be little coffee table tracks that run right out of the box. This is always worth it because it’s fun, it’s different and with model train layouts, it can often be the journey rather than the destination. 

Of course, there are tricky moments to deal with, but that’s what can make electric train sets unique; the fact that you create your own track and figure things out as you go along.


CHECK OUT OUR BEST PICK HERE!

If you’re in a hurry, or just want the best one of the lot, we recommend going with the Bachmann Trains Rail Chief Set. It’s a classic train that is well made, looks stunning and can be used year round if need be.

Bachmann Trains - Rail Chief Ready To Run 130 Piece Electric Train Set - HO Scale, Brown/a
  • Complete Ready To Run 130 Piece Freight Train Set
  • Powered by a EMD GP40 Diesel Locomotive with Operating Headlight
  • Includes; Open Quad Hopper Car, Gondola Car, Steel Reefer Car, Off-Set Cupola Caboose, Signal Bridge, Miniature Figures, Railroad Signs, Street Signs, and Telephone Poles
  • 47" x 38" Oval of Snap-Fit E-Z Track, Power Pack and Speed Controller
  • HO Scale 1:87

Why Should You own an Electric Train?

For starters, this is a great pastime!

It allows you to just enjoy your time and have fun as you go along. It delivers incredible results while also encouraging you to make the track, and your train layout better over time. This is a passion project and one where you can pour a lot of effort and hard work into it to bring your own cool ideas to life.

It does take a little bit to bring your dream project to life, but it’s always worth it!

Plus, the electric train sets and tracks can be as simple or as complex as you want. Some will span over multiple rooms, others will be simpler and function properly on a smaller table. Some of these are made out of plastic, and higher tier Electric Train Sets include stainless steel and more durable materials.

The great thing is that you can buy all the stuff you want within your budget and then create the world you want around the track. It’s fun, rewarding and it’s a wonderful activity for both kids and adults alike.


What to Look for When Buying an Electric Train?

The first thing to focus on when you’re looking to buy the best electric train set is to identify the scale you need. There are N scale and HO scales, as well as O scale or G gauge trains. Scales and gauges won’t make too much difference to you, but the letters will! You need to make sure that you can find electric model trains and decorations that fit the scale you chose.

N and HO are on the smaller side and are table worthy, while O and G definitely require more room and look better running around a christmas tree or even outside!

Budgeting For your Model Train Set

Which is why you need to scour the market as you try to figure out what approach works for you the most. The primary focus has to be on value and quality here, and the more you do that, the better it will be in the end.

Despite the trains themselves, track quality is also very important, so make sure that you opt for the best track that you can buy

Metal rails are undoubtedly the best and will last the longest, as well as giving you the smoothest ride.

When you’re starting out especially, pick a budget and stick to it. A good beginner budget for a serious enthusiast would be somewhere between $200-$500. You can get an electric model train for cheaper than that as shown below too, if you’re just curious about the hobby!

Electric Train Set Power Supply and DCC Unit

Then you also have to think about the power supply you need to buy. This will tie in with the scale of the project; if the scale is very large then you need something a bit more powerful. To start with if it’s your first train, whatever it comes within the box is normally fine. Stuff like DCC Train Control Kits is a problem for later on! 

The idea is to avoid rushing as you try to find the right model. 

Couplers and wheels are very important too, ideally, you want them to be out of metal to offer more durability. For the most part, they’ll just be whatever comes with your model train kit. When it comes to couplers, you want those that have a metal construction and which are very easy to operate.

Most importantly to you though, pricing is probably your biggest concern! A good electric train kit can and will cost you up to $400 or more and as you raise the quality and expand your set you will find more expensive options. Don’t let that deter you though, as you can get into the hobby for a lot less than that too! 

Now let’s take a look at the best electric train sets of 2021!


What is the Best Electric Train Set?


Bachmann Santa Fe Flyer Electric Train

The Best HO Electric Train

Bachmann Trains - Santa Fe Flyer Ready To Run Electric Train Set - HO Scale Multicolor, 19.50 x 3.00 x 13.25 Inches
  • Complete Ready To Run Freight Train Set
  • Powered by a EMD FT Diesel Locomotive with Operating Headlight
  • Includes; Open Quad Hopper Car, Gondola Car, and Off-Set Cupola Caboose
  • 36" Circle of Snap-Fit E-Z Track, Power Pack and Speed Controller
  • HO Scale 1:87

The Bachmann Santa Fe Flyer Train Set is a favourite electric HO Scale train set and that makes it great for kids. HO is the perfect balance between a perfect adult size and something that kids can still interact with. The best part about this is that it’s ready-to-run out of the box, meaning its a great beginner set too!

The details are great and the best part is that you have a speed controller that helps enhance safety (which is a must if you want this for your child).

It’s quite affordable and it brings in a very good set of features and ideas that you do not want to miss. The included cupola caboose, gondola car and open quad hopper car do tend to make the package come to life too!


Bachmann Trains Rail Chief Set

The Best Model Train Set for Adults

Bachmann Trains - Rail Chief Ready To Run 130 Piece Electric Train Set - HO Scale, Brown/a
  • Complete Ready To Run 130 Piece Freight Train Set
  • Powered by a EMD GP40 Diesel Locomotive with Operating Headlight
  • Includes; Open Quad Hopper Car, Gondola Car, Steel Reefer Car, Off-Set Cupola Caboose, Signal Bridge, Miniature Figures, Railroad Signs, Street Signs, and Telephone Poles
  • 47" x 38" Oval of Snap-Fit E-Z Track, Power Pack and Speed Controller
  • HO Scale 1:87

The Rail Chief Ready To Run Train Set is quite complicated and comes with a full set of 130 pieces. Despite that daunting number, it’s actually pretty easy to get up and running!

The fact that it’s an HO scale unit is great and there are quite a lot of accessories added here aside from the cars. You have miniatures, telephone poles, street signs, railroad signs, signal bridge and so on. Adding all of that helps enhance the experience and bring in more value and quality to the process, which is what you really want to have when building your own model train layout.


Lionel Polar Express Electric Train

Lionel The Polar Express LionChief 2-8-4 Set with Bluetooth Capability, Electric O Gauge Model Train Set with Remote
  • A CHRISTMAS SPIRIT SHOWSTOPPER – All aboard The Polar Express Lionchief train set; This highly-detailed set is equipped with Bluetooth technology; Operate your train via a smart device; Great...
  • SET INCLUDES – 2-8-4 locomotive and tender, 2 coach cars, Observation car and 4 movie figurines; FasTrack sections: 8 curved 036 tracks, two 10” straight tracks, terminal, 10”...
  • TRAIN SET FEATURES – Die-cast metal body, controlled by remote, cellphone or any Bluetooth device; Puffing smoke unit, engine, whistle, bell, customized announcements; RailSounds RC sound...
  • PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS – 40” x 60” oval track; O Gauge compatible; Bluetooth compatible
  • BATTERY REQUIREMENTS - Requires three AAA batteries to operate the LionChief remote control; Batteries are not included with purchase of train set

The Lionel Polar Express Lionchief O Gauge Train is the ultimate model train that’s been lovingly crafted to represent the Polar Express train from the popular movie. The train looks amazing, and anyone from movie enthusiasts to Christmas fanatics are going to get a kick out of this one. Hell, it’d look great even if you just wanted to create a winter-themed model train layout.

The train comes with a ton of really nifty features to help bring this set to life, including:

  • puffing smoke
  • operating headlight
  • Authentic sound clips from both the movie and normal train sounds!

That goes to show just how detailed and visually impressive this product can be. This train definitely ticks a bunch of criteria for people who like the movie, Christmas, good quality trains, or even winter!


Lionel Santa Fe Super Chief Train

Best O Scale Electric Train Set

Lionel Santa Fe Super Chief LionChief Set with Bluetooth Capability, Electric O Gauge Model Train Set with Remote
  • A LOCOMOTIVE SHOWSTOPPER – Checkout the iconic Santa Fe Super Chief LionChief train set; This train is equipped with Bluetooth technology, letting you glide the rails via a mobile device; Great...
  • SET INCLUDES – Santa Fe FT diesel locomotive; 2 coach cars and an Observation car; FasTrack include: 8 curved 036 tracks, two 10” straight tracks, terminal, 10” straight Plug-Expand-Play...
  • TRAIN SET FEATURES – Train controlled by remote, or via Bluetooth; Horn, bell and diesel revving sounds; RailSounds RC sound system; 2 powerful, maintenance-free motors; Operating headlight;...
  • PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS – O Gauge compatible; minimum curve is 031; Set length is 52 1/2”; Bluetooth compatible
  • BATTERY REQUIREMENTS - Requires three AAA batteries to operate the LionChief remote control; Batteries are not included with purchase of train set

Lionel’s Santa Fe Super Chief Train is a very popular collector piece and that’s for a very good reason.

It has two coach cars, a wonderful diesel locomotive, an observation car and multiple track sections to name a few The accessories they added here are very interesting and also quite useful too.

The locomotive is Bluetooth enabled, so you can start or stop it via your phone. There are multiple remote features too that include lighting and sound as well as opening doors, interior illumination etc.

It looks amazing and it certainly delivers the high-quality standard that you expect from Lionel products.


Lionel Mickey Mouse Celebration Train Set

While this model is mostly created for kids, the Lionel Mickey Celebration Train Set stands out with its visuals and ease of use.

The added Mickey ears are fun and they definitely keep up with the theme, which is what you expect to have from a product of this calibre. The fact that it is in O scale as well means that it’s going to be a stunner running around a Christmas Tree if you’re feeling festive later in the year too!

This is a limited edition model as only 1928 were made!. Assembly is very simple and fans of Mickey Mouse will adore it!


Kato USA Zephyr Starter Set

Kato USA Model Train Products N CB&Q Streak Zephyr UNITRACK Starter Set, Silver
  • Contains a 4'x3' (1337mm x 677mm) loop of Kato UNITRACK with a re-railing crossing, N scale
  • Includes a Kato 12V Power Pack that connects to the Kato UNITRACK loop with easy-to-use plugs for operating your trains
  • Contains a complete CB&Q Silver Streak Zephyr locomotive and car set with one locomotive and 5 individually lettered cars
  • The E5A is DCC friendly and all cars can be upgraded with optional interior lighting kits
  • Elegant slipcase covered box with easy to carry handle

This Kato USA Model Train Starter Set stands out for the fact that it’s an extraordinary locomotive, and is a more modern looking unit.

The design is something distinct that will look great in all model train layouts, and the assembly process is not complicated at all. You can easily upgrade the cars with some interior lights as well.

The slipcase will add in quite a lot of value and you’ll find this works super well without any hassle.

We believe that this is one of the better models on the market and you’ll want to check it out if you are a fan of high-quality train sets.


LEGO Creator Holiday Train Set

Best Electric Train Set for 5 year olds

LEGO Creator Expert Winter Holiday Train 10254 Christmas Train Set with Full Circle Train Track, Locomotive, and Spinning Christmas Tree Toy (734 Pieces) (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
  • Kids and adults will have a blast building this LEGO Winter Holiday Christmas train building set. The included train track wraps a full circle around your Christmas tree, making it the perfect...
  • The holiday LEGO train set includes a locomotive, caboose, 5 minifigures: a locomotive driver, ticket collector, grandmother, boy and a girl, plus festive green wreaths, decorative lights, and...
  • Turn this LEGO train into a motorized train set with a Power Functions motor (not included), and watch as it rolls festively around the train track! LEGO Creator building toys are compatible with...
  • LEGO Creator Expert kits challenge both kids and adults to explore their creativity through exciting and fun building experiences. Dive into the festive details of this iconic LEGO Christmas...
  • The Holiday Christmas train in total measures over 4” high, 20” long and 2” wide. Curved rail track diameter measures over 27”. 734 pieces. A great LEGO Christmas gift for boys and girls...

This might be a holiday-themed model train, but it’s one that both kids and adults will like quite a lot. And really, who doesn’t love some LEGO!

Obviously, it takes a bit of time to create, but the journey is half the fun! You will find that it works great for smaller rooms too.

And it’s also great to see that they added some Minifigures in too. That helps spruce things up and bring in some amazing results, which is exactly what you need to think about when purchasing model train sets.


What’s the best model train scales for kids and adults?

A lot of people suggest that the best scale for kids is the N scale or Ho scale model train.

The N scale is good for kids too, as it’s small and it fits a child’s hand really well, although you obviously want to be cautious of choking hazards, so maybe even moving into the HO section is something you could consider depending on the age of your kid.

It all comes down to identifying what makes it worth it for you and then adjusting and adapting as you go along for the best experience and results.

When it comes to adults, the O gauge or HO scale is the norm. They’re big enough that you can get a lot of detail in them, and these days they’re the most popular scale which means that there are the most components for layouts available too.


Are there any requirements for owning a model electric train Set?

  • You do need quite a lot of space when you go down this route.
  • It’s time-consuming to create a model train environment too, so time and space are definitely huge factors here.
  • On top of that, many electric train sets and accessories can be quite expensive. Sure, it won’t feel like a lot of money at first, but the more you expand the higher the costs will be.
  • Ideally, you want to start off with a simpler approach and then adapt and adjust as you go along, as it still delivers the value you expect without any hassle.
  • Other than that, passion is all you really need and you’ll make it work! 

What’s the Best Place To Buy Electric Train Sets?

That totally depends on what you’re after, or if you even know! Obviously, we’ve just given you a bunch of great trains that can all be purchased online.

For the most part, most model train manufacturers sell on Amazon these days, like Lionel, Athearn, Bachmann, etc.

The only other place we’d recommend trying is your local FLTS (friendly local train store!) to see what they have in stock. They don’t always have the largest selection, but if you have no clue where to start, being able to chat with someone is a good start.


Getting into the model train world is very exciting and a lot of fun. Thankfully this roundup of the best electric train sets will help you achieve that fast and easy without any hassle. We recommend you check them out and give them a try, as you’ll no doubt be impressed with the value and quality, especially if you havent had one in many years. The quality has gone up considerably!

Plus, it’s an affordable way to get into this hobby at your own pace!

Want to learn more about model trains? Have a look at our ultimate model train guide for some more information.

OR, if you’re looking to buy some extra cars to add to your set, look at our 6 best train cars post!

3 thoughts on “Best Electric Train Sets 2021”

  1. I set up a 1930 Lionel 262 engine with 800-series freight cars that I had in the 1950’s on Christmas for my 3 grandkids. Three trips around the train garden and they were back on their I-pads for the rest of the day.

    Reply
  2. Can anyone give me an idea of a Marx 41822 electric train set in a yellow box, worth? It reads ‘1 only #41822 electric tain set made in the USA by Louis Marx & Co Inc. Girard PA 16417’ Thanks!

    Reply

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