Lionel Releases LEGACY Protocol

15 01 2014

Lionel has announced that we are releasing our LEGACY protocol to promote a more universal control standard for the O Gauge hobbyist. Here is the official press release:

Concord, NC – January 15, 2014 – Lionel LLC today announced it will make public its Legacy command protocol and open its WiFi-to-model-railroad interface in an effort to grow the hobby by allowing a single remote to control all manufacturers’ locomotives.

Industry hobbyists have long pined for a universal remote to integrate and control model railroad layouts. Lionel is taking the first step towards realizing this goal via the user’s own smart device and Lionel’s WiFi adapter. Layout Control System (LCS) WiFi creates a common access point with a royalty-free protocol designed for model railroading. Any manufacturer can use LCS WiFi to support their unique locomotive command sets. Within this framework, hobbyists will be able to control different manufacturers’ locomotives seamlessly from one app running on a smart phone or tablet.

“To keep up with today’s mobile-centric landscape, unified control from a smart phone or tablet is critical in growing the hobby of model railroading,” says Jon Zahornacky, Chief Technology Officer at Lionel. “Publishing our WiFi protocol gives the hobby a royalty-free path to controlling any manufacturer’s model trains from smart devices using our WiFi adapter.”

Lionel is working closely with LCS partners to develop their own apps that connect to Lionel’s WiFi interface. The first announced such product is Blue Train developed by Bob Krivacic, a long-time innovator in the model railroad industry. The BlueTrain app runs on Android devices, connects to LCS WiFi, runs Lionel locomotives and can be used simultaneously with any other LCS-compatible controller.

“By opening the Legacy protocol, Lionel is allowing other manufacturers’ products to control Lionel Trains. It’d be great to see other manufacturers follow suit and begin sharing their own proprietary protocols. Everyone involved in the model railroad world stands to benefit,” says Bob Krivacic, industry innovator and developer.

The Legacy command specification is available and can be downloaded from The WiFi specification is available through the LCS Partner program.



8 responses

15 01 2014
Allan Ragsdale

This is ground breaking news. I would encourage you to develop an Apple version for those who have iPads and iPhones.

15 01 2014
Conductor Andrew

Reblogged this on theredcaboose1 and commented:
In my mind this is considered technology because of all the technological advancements through the years in model railroading

15 01 2014
Fred Patton

This a much-needed step in the O gauge world. Well done.

16 01 2014
Randy P.

Fantastic news! Great move by Lionel! Thank you!!!

16 01 2014

GREAT NEWS! Lionel is doing for train control what IBM did for the PC! I only run Lionel, but this is great news for me to know that soon I can use my Android tablet for my trains!
I don’t like apple or MTH, I don’t trust apple or MTH, I won’t buy apple! or MTH They should pair up because I ignore them both!
I hope Battle Trains is next!
If its not Lionel, Its not for me!
Thank you Lionel, once again you prove you are the BEST!

17 01 2014
Robert M. Dohman

MTH already clames their newest controler works on all lionel trains listed in your tinplate catalog, now does your legasy system that i bought work on your tinplate made by MTH or do i need to buy MTH’s unaversal controler to use the extra functions on my lionel by MTH tinplate I have on order

17 01 2014

Lionel Corporation Tinplate is not manufactured by Lionel, but by MTH. We license the name only. Consequently (and logically!), they make it to use their control systems.

Although Lionel released the TMCC codes early on, allowing MTH and others to use them so that anyone’s controller could run a Lionel locomotive, and while we’ve now added the LEGACY protocols to that list, MTH has kept their DCS codes private. Because of that, we can not put those codes in a LEGACY system which would allow our products to run their locomotives.

Until MTH releases their codes, that will remain the case.

20 01 2014
Bill Yates

MTH will never release their codes, knowing that Lionel should not have released theirs either…. Coming from a big Lionel customer and fan. Thanks for all the great products!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: