A History of The Lionel Polar Express

Since the Chris van Allsburg book was published in 1985, the Polar Express has become an essential part of Christmas for families all over the world, topping bestseller lists and remaining popular year after year, enduring the ever increasing number of new books released each Christmas. The release of the The Polar Express movie in 2004 introduced the train to a whole new generation and reignited the imaginations of those who had grown up with the children’s book.

The beauty of The Polar Express is that it allows hobbyists to combine their passion for model trains while embracing a Christmas tradition. Whether you run the Polar Express exclusively on your holiday layout, around the tree, or if it’s a year-round staple of your railroad, this train is a classic, fun addition to any collection.

What’s the Story of the Polar Express?

For those of you unfamiliar with the story of the Polar Express, it centers on a boy who is awoken late on Christmas Eve to find a train – the Polar Express – waiting for him in front of his home.

Upon boarding the train, the boy finds lots of other children already there, all journeying to the North Pole to meet Santa Claus.

The Polar Express then takes a magical journey through forests and over mountains before reaching the North Pole. On arrival, Santa chooses the boy in the story to receive the first gift of Christmas. In response, the boy asks for a bell from the reindeer’s harnesses.

As the train departs to take the children home, the boy realises he doesn’t have the bell. He arrives disappointed as he watches the Polar Express head back into the snowy night.

On Christmas morning, the boy finds that Santa has left an extra present under his Christmas tree – the bell. 

Highlighting the magic of Christmas for children, only the boy and his sister can hear the ring of the bell, while their parents assume that its broken. Only the boy and his sister know the secret of where the bell came from!

Building the Set You Want With The Polar Express

Polar Express

Lionel has been producing Polar Express trains for 15 years, while also creating an ever growing range of Polar Express accessories, enabling you to easily add to your set. These pieces create endless possibilities for starting or expanding the scene which your Polar Express will run through, while also presenting the option for additional cars, locomotives, and even trolleys. Of course the beauty of model trains is the ability to be creative and mix and match if you wish, so you can always add your Polar Express cars to an existing collection, and run them on your year-round railroad. 

The Polar Express: Designed to Make Your Own History

The history of The Polar Express as a franchise, and more specifically as a way for hobbyists and railfans to indulge in the holiday spirit, is rich and will continue to grow. Lionel Polar Express model trains, cars, and accessories are a great way to bring a sense of Christmas cheer to your railroad and enjoy for years to come. 

Here at Modeltrainstuff, we stock Lionel’s models from their O Scale Polar Express series, giving you the choice between the full set, individual cars, or additional accessories and buildings. If you or your Polar Express fan really wants to get into the swing of things, there’s even a Polar Express Conductor’s hat available! 

Currently, Lionel produces Polar Express trains in O, S, and HO Scale, with certain accessories available in the same scales. Create your own history over the holidays, and with every holiday season moving forward, with the Lionel Polar Express series!

View all our Polar Express products here.