Are All Lionel Train Tracks the Same?

Lionel trains and train tracks have been around since 1901 and have been going strong ever since. The company has changed hands a few times since its first production, but the quality has remained the same. If you have been around model trains before, you have probably seen a Lionel train set at least once. But the question of whether all Lionel train tracks are the same still comes up by collectors and viewers alike.

Lionel train tracks are not all the same. There are six different sizes of tracks available. All of them are designed to be distinguished from each other in the same way that real train tracks are. That means they are built using the gauge system instead of buying tracks by an inch or centimeter.

The gauge system is easy to understand once you know what the differences are between the types of tracks. The train track gauge is the distance between the outer rails, which tells you how big the trains need to be to travel on them. Continue reading to learn more about the six types of Lionel train tracks available and see which is the most popular choice.

lionel train layout
Corvair Owner

The Imagineering Size of Lionel Train Track

It is a simple fact of life that children love trains. They will always get excited when they see that long line of boxcars ending with a mighty locomotive. Getting a toy train track for their birthday or Christmas is a highlight of their young lives. Unfortunately, many of the great train tracks are not child friendly. The Imagineering Lionel Train Track is an exception to that rule. The set offers many cool things for any age of kid.

  • Snap-together tracks so young hands can set them up without any problems.
  • Durable plastic that is designed to put up with years of hard use.
  • Compatible with Lionel non-powered track kits.

These train track kits are designed for young children that want to get to know what having a train set is all about. They are not just limited to young children. They are also a great addition to any train collections for the young at heart.

The Ready to Play Lionel Train Track

The next step up for older children and adults is the Ready-to-Play Lionel Train Track. This affordable train set offers train lovers a way to have a great track without being complicated. The pieces are large enough for hands of all ages to effectively connect and disconnect. This set also has some pretty cool features.

  • The locomotive runs off batteries and is controlled by a small remote control.
  • Easy to connect durable plastic tracks.
  • Easy to handle large-sized train pieces and tracks.

This Lionel train track set requires 6 C-size batteries. Unfortunately, it is not compatible with any other tracks they have on the market. The good news is that you can buy more tracks to add to the ones you already have.

o scale train

The G-Gauge Lionel Train Track Set

The G-Gauge tracks are much more detailed than the two previous sets and have a wider track than the others, measuring at a 1:24 scale. The tracks are designed to work with the G-style locomotive and box cars and are incompatible with other sizes. The set’s features are another step up in the line of Lionel trains.

  • Runs off a simple-to-use remote control.
  • The train can go forward and backward.
  • The locomotive makes bells and whistles sounds.

This train track set runs off batteries and is simple to master. The train and tracks are detailed enough to give you a glimpse of the real thing. It is not big enough to ride in, but it can make you feel like you are.

The HO-Gauge Lionel Train Track Set

The scale of these tracks is designed to be a 1:87 scale, measuring 16.5 mm. It is one of the most common sizes of Lionel Trains that you can find on the market today. Throughout the history of the train maker, these tracks have come and gone, but the good news is that they can all connect and work together. As long as they are HO-gauge. These trains have some great features to offer.

  • The tracks run off a DC electric power source.
  • The train is controlled by a unique remote control produced exclusively by Lionel.
  • The train includes LED lighting for a more realistic look.

Even though this train is detailed and popular with adults of all ages, it is also built to be safe for children. It is designed with incredible detail to mimic the real locomotives and boxcars that travel across the railroad tracks all over the nation.

The S-Gauge Lionel Train Track Set

The next level up is slightly smaller than the O-gauge sets. The scale is designed to be 1:64 and sold under the name of American Flyer Lionel (AF Fas Track). The manufacturer recommends these for most train hobbyists and collectors because of the smaller size. This set has numerous features that all train lovers can appreciate.

  • The engines have state-of-the-art electronics.
  • The set has details that resemble the real thing.
  • The tracks are designed with separately applied parts.

Because of the intricate design and the smaller parts that can be connected, these trains are more complex than the other models. These Lionel train track sets have long-distance remotes and enhanced sound. The best part is that they can be run off DC electrical current or batteries if you prefer.

The O-Gauge Lionel Train Track Set

These are the train tracks that most people are familiar with because of their design. Instead of having the traditional two-rail train tracks, these are designed with three rails. This offers more stability than the others and is geared towards hobbyists and serious collectors. The details produced in these train sets are unmatched by others, providing amazing features for all ages.

  • This train set has easy-to-control lights, sounds, and smoke.
  • It has long-distance controls that are easy to use.
  • AC/DC power supplies can be used.

The O-Gauge Lionel train track set is the cream of the crop, and the three rail design on the tracks is the tell-tale sign that you are a true collector.

Final Thoughts

At one point in the history of the Lionel train sets, they were designed to all work together. As time passed, the demands of consumers worldwide changed the direction the company had been going. Today, there are six different styles of train tracks that can be found for sale. Still, if you have one of the original train sets, you should know that it could be worth a substantial amount of money to the right collectors.


Lifelong Rail Enthusiast and Owner of Worldwide Rails

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