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L.I.R.R. Train Sets and a Brooklyn Park

L.I.R.R. Train Sets and a Brooklyn Park

The New York Times 6/17/2011


Q. The New York Transit Museum sells several electric-train sets from Lionel: a set of older subway cars, a set of newer subway cars and the newer M-7 commuter train cars from the Long Island Rail Road. I can understand the appeal of subway cars, but the L.I.R.R. doesn’t exactly have the cachet of the Santa Fe Super Chief. Why was the L.I.R.R. chosen?

Show some respect for the elderly. The L.I.R.R. was founded in 1834 and is the third-oldest railroad in the United States — its first train ran on April 18, 1836, from Brooklyn to Jamaica, Queens, according to the Encyclopedia of New York City. It is also the only railroad from that era still using its original name.

Actually, Lionel also made a fourth set, modeling Metro-North Railroad cars. Marjorie Anders, a spokeswoman for Metro-North, said by e-mail: “Lionel created a Metro-North M-7 model to commemorate Metro-North Railroad’s 25th anniversary in 2008. It just so happens that Long Island Rail Road had their 175th anniversary the next year (2009), and also runs M-7s, so it was cost-effective for Lionel to use the Metro-North Railroad model dies, which are expensive to create, and just use new L.I.R.R. decals.”

Lionel, as a rule, produces each new product in a limited edition, Ms. Anders said. The Metro-North Railroad and L.I.R.R. train sets were limited to 2,000 units each. Lionel sells all units through pre-orders from retailers. The Transit Museum sold more than 150 of the Metro-North 25th anniversary sets (all they could get), and more than 300 of the L.I.R.R. 175th anniversary sets, at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s main museum in Brooklyn Heights, the museum annex and store at Grand Central Terminal, and the museum’s online store.

Ms. Anders said the museum still had a few L.I.R.R. units available. “When they’re gone, they’re gone, and that’s cachet enough for rail-fan collectors,” she said.