New Product Spotlight – Introducing the LionChief Remote

25 02 2013

Debuting in the 2013 Ready-to-Run Catalog, our new LionChief Remote system will revolutionize the way you enjoy your ready-to-run trains. Building on the success of our Thomas Remote set introduced last year, this new system will make it easy for anyone, including children, to enjoy multiple trains with a minimum amount of wiring and at a very reasonable cost.


Our new LionChief Remote system will put change the way you see your model trains.

The LionChief Remote (note that we’ve had to change the name from TrainChief in the catalog) uses a radio-control and a hand-held controller to operate the locomotive. Track power is supplied by a simple wall pack that plugs into the FasTrack. You’ll have control of the train’s speed, direction and sounds in the palm of your hand.

Best of all, each set is programmed to its own frequency, so multiple trains can be run in the same room or on the same track without any additional wiring! (For larger layouts we still recommend installing a wiring bus and larger power supplies to handle the increased load of multiple trains as shown on our wiring your railroad pages.) These trains will work on other conventional, TMCC and LEGACY powered layouts as well. All the train needs is a constant 18 Volt power supply to the rails. Run multiple LionChief trains together or with other trains.

Santa Fe set

Our LionChief will be available on a wide variety of sets.

The radio controllers have an incredible range. We’ve had no trouble running our remote set from 60 feet away at crowded trade shows. And they are so simple and easy to use, a child can pick one up and run the train immediately.

The new control system will be available on 12 new sets starting later this year. We’ve added some more friends to the Thomas line (in sets and for individual sale) as well as traditional steam and diesel locomotive sets in many popular road names as well as a new Peanuts Halloween, Christmas and the Polar Express trains. Each set includes track and a power supply.



29 responses

25 02 2013
Kenneth Matinale

I have two ready-to-run Lionel trains sets purchased since December 2010. Neither has TMCC or LEGACY.

“Our LionChief will be available on a wide variety of sets… The new control system will be available on 12 new sets starting later this year.”

Does that mean that LionChief will only work on one of these new sets, that my existing sets cannot be retrofitted for LionChief? Will these LionChief sets be mostly kiddie sets: Thomas, etc.? I’m not interested in those.

25 02 2013

Yes, LionChief works only with the sets so equipped, and each one has its own controller. You will not be able to control these trains with the LEGACY or TMCC remote. Check out the catalog online at, you’ll find LionChief on a wide variety of sets, not just Thomas.

25 02 2013
Rick Krenske

I wonder what happens when the remote breaks down. In the future will a fix to convert the engines to conventional control be offered? Will I be able to operate these engines with a Cab-1 or Legacy remote?

25 02 2013
Matthew Apesos

Cool idea, although I believe you are still thinking analog in a digital world. There isn’t any reason why in 2013 I shouldn’t be able to control my trains using my iPad. I would love if I could connect my layout to my WiFi and then use an app to run the whole thing. It could provide the capability to go well beyond only controlling the train’s speed, direction, and sounds. Control of accessories, programmable scenarios like changing cars, and variable speed control (faster on the straights/slower though villages) would make anyone’s layout more dynamic and fun. There are a ton of innovations that would make Lionel trains even more amazing than they already are. I hope it doesn’t take years for them to become a reality.

25 02 2013

Matthew, we have some programs to do just that under development as well.

25 02 2013
Kenneth Matinale

iPad, Android, ChromeOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, … That’s clearly the right direction. Go for it, Lionel.

25 02 2013
Carey Hoffman

Ok. Yes, I have tmcc. Over the years I have built up my railroad. But will the cost of the new ‘inovation’ put things out of reach for those who just want to have fun running a train??Most of these will probably be used by children I would guess. But the price to pay for them? Hope is not out of line so as people can afford to buy for them.

26 02 2013

Actually, because this system is less expensive for us to produce than the transformer, the cost will be less per set than a traditional conventional model.

25 02 2013

Will we be able to use other track brands because most of my layout I am working on is Gargraves and a part will be O31 tubular.

26 02 2013

Yes, as long as you have 18 Volts on the rails, it won’t matter whose track you’re using.

26 02 2013

No where in the catalog does it say how much power will be provided by the LionChief, Will it be 40 watts or 80 watts like in the present starter sets or less? The polar express set still in stores is an 80 watt transformer, I hope the new wall power pack has enough power for the Polar Express.

22 03 2013

I had the same concern as Joe – No place in the new 2013 Catalog does it state how many watts of current will the new “Wall Pack” will produce – I called Lionel in Mt Clements, and all they would say is 18 “Volts” – even when I speciffically asked about “wattage” – the customer service person just kept repeating “18 Volts” It would be nice if Lionel would post a schematic pictorial of the elements of the new “Lionchief” system. How the wall pack works, is 18 volts always present on the track rails. do you shut off the wall pack or does the system just go to sleep after some amount of in-activity. can accessory power be tapped off the FastTrack or is ther only enough power to rub the train

22 03 2013

I do not know the amperage output of the new system yet off hand. However, like our conventional power supplies, I would still recommend a separate power source (14V) for your accessories. This wall pack is designed for the single train and will provide ample power for that. The power pack itself does not go dormant, however the controller uses VERY little power when not in use, even if left on. We accidentally left one of our Thomas remotes on after one of the trade shows earlier this year. Two weeks and thousands of miles in a trailer later, it was still live when we pulled it out of the box and survived another grueling weekend of activity. Like other systems, I would recommend unplugging the wall pack when you aren’t using the train, or use a surge protector with an on/off switch for this and your other power supplies.

3 12 2014

I’ve seen in the new track catalog (Pg14) that it has a 36watt or 72watt options. Not sure which comes in the sets..

2 03 2013

Will there be anyway to retrofit trains bought in the last couple of years.

5 03 2013

No, this is only being applied to select new products.

27 09 2013

So will this be able to run around a 12′ x 15′ room? I don’t see where additional power tracks can be purchased or can someone point me in the direction of a product that supplies additional power for a low cost. I don’t want to try and wire form the DC section to other pieces of fast track as I don’t know if that would be safe. Looking to have the Thomas and Friends set running around the top shelf in a room, so hoping this can be done. Thanks

30 09 2013

You can run the LionChief set on any size layout you’d like. On a 12×15 loop, I would recommend additional power drops. See our page on adding a bus wire for information on how to do this. You can use the wall pack that comes with the set (cut off the end of the plug, strip the two wires and solder them directly to your two leads.) Or you can use a conventional power supply with the layout around the walls and save the wall pack and extra track for some play time on the floor. The train will run on AC too, so any of our power supplies will work – just wire the loop as you would normally and turn the power up when you want to run trains. You’ll still control the train with the remote.

30 09 2013

Rather than the large 80watt power supply, would the smaller 36w accessory transformer work for power if I add additional power leads around the track? Thanks for the response.

1 10 2013

The 36w accessory transformer would likely provide just enough amps to power the Thomas locomotive. If you ever wanted to switch over to a larger train or add lighted passenger cars, you would be much better served with a CW-80. Likewise, should you add a second LionChief engine, a CW-80 will provide adequate power.

14 12 2013

Will there be remote replacements? I have experience with customers losing and or breaking remotes.

16 12 2013

Yes. Contact our customer service department at or call 586-949-4100.

26 09 2014
Mike Moittler

Thanks for clarifying the separate function of the 36-watt wall plug versus the hand-held controller accompanying each Thomas-series locos. Up until now, I (erroneously) thought that the wall plug generated track power AND the radio control signal.

I’m now planning a 16×20-feet L-shaped layout and may provide power to it via one Lionel “brick,” either a 135 or a 180 watt unit. The four Thomas locos on this layout would individually respond to their color-matched LionChief controller, right?

30 09 2014

No, all Thomas trains share the same frequency. If you are referring to having a Thomas, Percy, James, and so on, then yes, that will work. If you have 4 Thomas trains, they will all work off one remote.

26 10 2014

If you have a conventional MTH Z4000 transformer already wired, do you simply put the Lion Chief Plus engine on the track and the remote works with it’s unique functions? Or is there other wiring — mentioned is a special “pack” hook-up, like Command Control or DCS?

26 11 2014

The transformer just needs to be at 18volts, no special wiring.

30 10 2014
Terry Green

Will Lionel Ever Produce a Lion Chief Plus Traditional Polar Express Set?

24 12 2014

I can’t seem to get my LionChief remote control system to work. I set-up the track but the red light on the track will not light up after plugging it in. The red light on the remote works fine but NOT the track light. Please let me know how to trouble shoot it.

29 12 2014

Return it. It is defective. The red light should light up on the track as soon as you plug it in. Maybe try another outlet.

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