What Train Set Is Right For Me?
Most people start out with a pre-packaged train set. These "Starter Sets" usually include a power supply along with the track & train. While better starter sets usually include a more robust power source, as a general rule, the power pack supplied with your starter set is just that, a start.
Battery Operated Train Sets
Battery operated train sets are the easiest for new hobbyists to set up, but do not allow for as much expansion as an electric starter set. These sets are typically the cheapest in terms of cost, and are designed for the younger audience. Lionel's "Ready to Play" line of starter sets are a good example of battery powered train sets.
Electric Starter Sets
The majority of train sets sold are Electric Starter Sets. Lionel, MTH, Bachmann, Walthers, LGB, PIKO, KATO, American Flyer and Hornby all make electric model train starter sets. These sets have track and transformers included. This allows you to expand on your set with commonly sold track systems like FasTrack, EZ Track, RealTrax, and UniTrack.
Train Sets Without Track & Power
These sets include only Trains and Rolling Stock, and do not come with any track or power sources to run them. Most sets like this cater to people who already have an existing layout and do not require an additional track or power. After building out your first train set, and purchasing extra track to make yourself a small layout, you might want to consider purchasing train sets without track and power to add to your train collection.