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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Showing 1-10 of 25 reviews(verified purchases). Show all reviews
on December 21, 2013
There are two Polar Express train versions. One is the "Freight" train version and the other is the "Passenger". What I didn't realize when I purchased the Freight version (Last December 12-3-12) was that this engine is not the same as the "Passenger" version. The Passenger version has the Berkshire Engine which has a much better track record (according to our local train expert here in Northern VA.)

Due to our extenuating circumstances we were only able to set up and run the train for a month during last holiday season. We carefully packaged and packed it away. We unpacked it this week. The engine took about 4 spins around the track and died. We did as much trouble shooting as we could and took it to a local Lionel repair station - then to another expert - a more advanced Lionel Repair station. Our transformer is fine - tracks are good but the engine is defective. The suspected culprit is a defective circuit board. I've since read (including here) that there may be a problem with these "Freight" engines. So my recommendation is not to buy this set. The Polar Express Passenger set may be a viable alternative - as it comes with the Berkshire Engine.

We contacted Lionel through their website and will continue to pursue this but I suspect even though it was run only a month last holiday - they will not stand behind this product. Lionel is definitely not the same Lionel of days gone by. We plan to keep adding to my daughter's trains but are probably going to start collection the post-war O gauge. The Polar Express set is beautiful but a train is only as good as its engine - and I would highly recommend you stay away from this version!

One other piece of advice - I saw a comment about the transformer. If the train doesn't run, be sure it's not the engine (seems like the more likely culprit). When we went to our local Lionel Repair Station - we took our transformer and that worked just fine - the internal circuit board is the problem. Lionel has some interesting repair requirements for dealers that may be very capable of repair but Lionel makes it very impractical to get this engine fixed because the parts are impossible for the dealer to get.

We spent some time with our local Train gurus (KMA Hobby in Manassas, VA) and received some excellent advice - and bought our daughter the Southern Belle (Kansas City) train and engine - This engine will have no problem pulling her Polar Express passenger and freight cars. We really appreciate KMA Hobby for saving our holiday with their expertise!
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on December 10, 2013
I like the looks of it but I don't like the fact that out of the box the transformer didn't work. The train set arrived yesterday and I set it up last night. To my surprise it did not work. I called Lionel and was told to take the transformer to a local Lionel dealer to confirm the transformer wasn't working. Well it's not. Amazon has offered to send me a new one overnight which I appreciate. I can only hope the next one works. After speaking with the local Lionel dealer I was told the transformer number CW80 stands for (Can't Work) 80. Evidently they have had more trouble than not with this system.
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on February 17, 2014
OK I'm still a big kid - 64 and still playing with trains. I set this up on a table with some other Christmas decorations so it looked like a Christmas village. Everyone that saw it was impressed. I added a set of small battery operated Christmas lights and when I turn off the lights it is magical. I'm very happy I invested in this train.
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on December 26, 2012
We ordered this on a gold box deal for a Christmas gift. A few days before Christmas I opened the box to inspect it as I was going to set it up under the tree. To my surprise all the curved track parts (8) were missing. I contacted Lionel and they were courteous and said they would send the track. However they sent it via US mail. Lucky for us it arrived on Christmas eve so we could set up the train. According to Lionel there was no way it would get here and they would not expedite the shipment.

This train is also designed to create smoke from the stack. I checked the switch and it's turned on and I've put six drops of oil in the stack as recommended. No smoke, even after running for hours.

I'm not impressed with their quality control at this point. The train is nice and we got a good deal but I'm really going to be cautious buying any products from Lionel.
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on March 12, 2013
I live in a small town and they dont have a real hobby shop here. I always wanted a nice lionel train and this one def fits the bill. The engine is all metal and the cars scale are very accurate. The build quality is good and I think that this train will be around the tree for many years to come. I will add some more christmas theme cars in the future though. The track is enough to fit around the tree and the fast track is nice to work with, better than the old way I used to do things as a kid. After you get this, you will be reminded of christmas as a kid again and want to add more tracks, bridges, accessories, ect...a good thing. The transformer is good and I didnt have any problems with it during 3 weeks of use. The only thing to note is though use the metal pickups will get some black carbon build up that you will have to clean off, otherwise I sometimes got intermittent stalls. I used some goo be gone and a q-tip to clean the wheels and goo-be gone on a paper towel to clean the tracks off. I read not to use sandpaper on tracks or wheels to remove black gunk as it gouges the track/ect. Overall I enjoyed this and would like to do a layout with it someday.
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on December 9, 2014
Even though this was not prime, I received my order in 3 days. I was very excited to receive my order and carefully assemble my set as per instructions. Assembly was pretty much self explanatory. Unfortunately, when I called my husband to "do the honors" of turning it on the first time and my 2 kids eagerly waiting, it didn't work. There were sparks coming from the tender car. Locomotive was working fine on its own. Also i noticed that my smoke fluid was missing. We were so disappointed.

I called Lionel directly to find out if I was doing anything incorrectly and was told that there shouldn't be any sparks at all. The Lioner customer service was very helpful and was kind enough to offer to repair the problem which means I would have to send both the locomotive and tender. That was not acceptable since we will be traveling. Besides it's a brand new train and I am already sending it for repair.

I called amazon to find out my other options. As usual, amazon customer service was very helpful and forwarded my issue to the seller, Trainz. Trainz was so quick and helpful as well and sent me a brand new set and received it within 2 days even before i had the chance to send the defective one. We were so pleased and the new set worked like how it should. I would definitely order from Trainz again as they sound like they know trains and their great customer service.

As far as this set goes, it's perfect!! The locomotive and the rest of the cars - even the tracks have weight to them - all have great quality and workmanship. This was a perfect addition to our Christmas tradition. Perfect size to go under the Christmas tree. Our kids LOVE the whistle and smoke!! FYI, this set comes with the smoke fluid.
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on February 14, 2014
I love this train. This is my first train set ever. I always wanted to have a train set under my Christmas tree and I am very happy with my purchase. I did have to take away a star though because the steam that is supposed to come of out the engine does not work consistently. Since this is for decoration and the steam cannot be engaged unless you hit the control, this was not a good enough reason for me to return it. After all I am not going to sit under my tree to hit the buttons for the train whistle and steam :-)
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on January 11, 2014
Set up was easy, train works well, four year old grandson loves it and has no problem operating the train. My main concern was that the track be sturdy and it is. I will buy another one when my other grandson is old enough to play with it.
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on January 17, 2013
My 6 yr old was obsessed with The Polar Ecpress movie and has been asking for this train for 2 Christmases. I found this and read tr reviews and decided to go for it. It was perfect. He loves it!
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on January 3, 2014
Bought this train set for my 8 year grandson and engine blew first day. We used A 50 year old Lionel engine my husband played with as a little boy and it worked fine. We returned train the set and hoped the new Polar express would
not disappoint, but it did. Not only did the engine.break, but the transformer as well. We went to a local store and bought a new train set with a warrantee, so as not to disappoint a third time. Hate to say it, but Lionel in no way is what it used to be. New train has been running fine with new transfomer (same model as Polar Express one that we sent back) and my Grandson is finally getting to enjoy it. Two times with a lemon is too many times for us.
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