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Model Trains Manufacturers Move Toward Enhanced Digital Controls

(credit: David Madden)

(credit: David Madden)

David Madden David Madden
David Madden is a Philadelphia native with virtually a lifetime of...
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By David Madden

Broomall, Pa. (CBS) - Thinking holidays right around now? Maybe not. But if you’re into model trains and you’re thinking of passing your passion on to the next generation, you may want to think digital because the industry’s been going in that direction for almost a quarter century.

Train sets come in two versions. The old-fashioned ones, tied to a transformer to control the speed and new digital systems than can be run from a computer or smartphone.

Chris Gans, owner of Nicholas Smith Trains in Broomall, says the major companies are pushing digital.

“The manufacturers are going to that type of operation but a lot of people are not into that yet,” Gans said. “Some people are running them off their computer, but a small percentage.”

Digital accounts for about a quarter of his business, and it’s definitely people on the young end of the scale going that route. Not surprisingly, the new systems cost twice that of the old-fashioned ones and you can’t control old trains on new digital tracks.