News: LEGO discloses the future of LEGO Trains

The LEGO Group has asked LEGO Ambassadors to pass along the following information about the future of the LEGO Train system. This message includes details on the status of 9-volt trains:

Billund, Oct. 1st ’07
Dear all,

Many of you are aware of the on-going discussions on the 9V train system. We would like to thank you all for the input you provided to us directly and through different channels. Based on critical business decisions and the consultations and discussions with various AFOLs we have decided to focus on one single solution in order to avoid the complexity of maintaining two systems in parallel and in order to solve the issues we have with the actual 9V system and the remote control City train system. We envision one upgradeable train system for all ages in the future.

The LEGO Group has considered the future of the 9v at length, and has come to the conclusion that there is not sufficient demand for the product line to be profitable and competitive. The existing machines need to be replaced and minimum order quantities at external suppliers for motors and speed regulators are so high that the investment The LEGO Group would have to put in, would not be rational or reasonable compared to sales figures of the existing 9V system.

The implication of this is that the 9v elements sold now are the last of the remaining stock and subsequent production of elements for the 9V platform has ceased.

The LEGO Group will launch elements for a new train system based on the new electric LEGO Power Functions system in 2009. Using the LEGO Power Functions system the new train system will benefit from a set of electric elements that are cross theme, widely available and not completely train specific which allows us to amortize the development and on going cost across multiple themes. We are at an early development stage of the new train system and several AFOLs are already involved in the development process, to ensure that the new system will accommodate the types of features and functions requested by the AFOL community. This collaboration with AFOLs is very important to The LEGO Group and we strive to involve the Adult Fan Community as much as possible.

Holger Matthes, Germany, currently member of the AFOL team which is involved in the process of developing the new system explains the situation in this way:

“The LEGO train system has to fulfill different needs for different target groups in a very special way. On the one hand it’s a toy for kids because it is easy to set up and because of the playability in the kid’s room, and on the other hand it is also for AFOLs who build huge LEGO train layouts with realistic looking train models and functionality. The LEGO Group is aware of this and the company tries to support both needs within the given restrictions (e.g. costs for a niche product like the LEGO trains).”

Using the universal LEGO Power Functions system for trains will give The LEGO Group the ability to match the demands and wishes of the AFOL Train community in the future.

Steve Barile, USA – President of ILTCO (International LEGO Train Club Organization) and one of the involved AFOLs says about the new train system:

“I am excited that the new universal Power Functions system can make track side accessories viable and potentially automated and interactive.”

He continues:

“With the track being exclusively plastic the LEGO Power Functions Train system has the potential for new and innovative track geometries and continued innovation by both The LEGO Group and the AFOLs.”

These AFOL quotes give you an impression of what will be possible with the future system and we will keep you up to date on the development of the new LEGO Power Functions train system. We expect to have more information and details to share with you before the end of the year.

Richard Stollery, Head of LEGO Community Development

UPDATE: You can read translations of this announcement in various languages:

9 comments on “News: LEGO discloses the future of LEGO Trains

  1. Scotty!

    I think I’m going to die a slow, and very very painful death… unless the new motor system is similar to the 9v “plug-n-play”, we just witnessed the end of all things Cool and Train-y.

  2. Scotty!

    By that I mean, unless the new motors are the same size (I.E. fit perfectly and realistically under trains) and requires no internal space for batteries wiring or w/e, then they just killed steam engines.

  3. The Brickster

    Very disappointing news. Why not just continue to make a small selection of 9V sets for the hobby collector available only through SAH? Does Lego have any idea of how many of us AFOL and Train Clubs there are that build large-scale layouts with 9V track and motors? How could sales be more than marginal if the theme is dormant? Does Lego expect anything more with the one set released this year – the $100 engine.

    I don’t care the cost to Lego at this point. How about some appreciation for the loyal train collectors. This really is unfortunate and switching to a non-electric track with batteries for a few years was one more bad idea. This pretty much ends my appreciation for Lego trains.

  4. Rustie

    This sucks. This really does. Looks like we need to find some motor suppliers to fix our 9V blocks when they go bad. I hear the Walthers’ Model Railroad Supply catalog has some good ones.

  5. David

    I think it sucks because I like the “plug in and play”, it’s like the train I played with as a kid.

    I just hope it’s not as bad as the RV trains, aka the one piece bottom platform, those are terrible.

    It’s said, but i hope Lego does something cool with these new motors, RVs are terrible terrible and this has to be an upgrade from those.

    Still a very dumb move.

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