Holiday movies that include trains

Posted by Rene Schweitzer
on Thursday, December 15, 2016

NOTE: We have republished this article for your viewing pleasure. 

'Tis the season for holiday movies! Holiday movies with TRAINS in them--even better! Here are some movies to enjoy with your family and friends this holiday season (in no particular order).

Holiday Affair features a Lionel train set.

1. A Holiday Affair (1949)

Department store clerk Steve Mason (Robert Mitchum) meets Connie Ennis (Janet Leigh), who is what would be called a "secret shopper" today. Connie buys a Lionel train set and takes it home. Her son assumes it's a Christmas gift for him. It's a good movie for the entire family.

2. The Santa Claus (1994)

Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) accidentally kills Santa Claus, puts on the red suit, and finds himself becoming the Big Guy. This movie has both a ride-on train (called North Pole Railroad), and a large-scale set (in Santa's living quarters). Another movie that's great for the whole family.

The majority of The Polar Express takes place on a train--what's not to love?

3. Polar Express (2004)

A CGI animated movie based on a popular children's book. What's not to love about a special train that travels to the North Pole on Christmas Eve? The locomotive is based on the Pere Marquette 1225, and many of the train's sound effects are actual recordings of the locomotive itself.

4. Christmas Eve (1947)

A holiday soaper starring George Raft, Randolph Scott, and Joan Blondell. A train around the Christmas dinner table? Yes, it's true--an S gauge train layout is right on table. I haven't seen this movie myself, and according to some reviews it's "stodgy" at times. You can find clips on YouTube if you want to watch just the train portion.

5. Trains, Planes, and Automobiles (1987)

Technically, this is a Thanksgiving movie, but Thanksgiving is a holiday, right? Steve Martin is trying to get home in time for Thanksgiving, but bad weather has ruined his plans. He and John Candy, a shower curtain ring salesman, travel home in various ways--including a short, ill-fated train ride. Rated R, primarily because of a scene at the rental car agency.

6. Elf (2003)

Buddy the elf (Will Ferrell), a human raised by elves, travels to New York City in search of his father. He stumbles into a department store and, because of his elf outfit, is "employed" in the toy section. He hides out overnight and builds a "welcome Santa" wonderland, which includes a replica of New York City in Legos, complete with an N-scale train traveling around the display. This is a fun, kid-friendly movie.

7. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

Everyone knows the story of It's a Wonderful Life--George Bailey (James Stewart) plays the lead character in a small town called Bedford Falls! Enjoy several scenes at the Bedford Falls train station.

8.   Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)

Ernest P. Worrell (Jim Varney), a bumbling but well-intentioned character, helps Santa Claus find a successor to save Christmas future. There is a critical scene at Orlando Amtrak (ex-SCL) station.

Catch a glimpse of trains in the department store window in A Christmas Story.
9. Christmas Story (1983)

Oooooh, fudge! Ralph (Peter Billingsley) really, REALLY wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. His mission is to convince his parents, and Santa, that he is worthy os one. There are scenes of O gauge trains in window display of Higbee’s Department Store and steam train whistles can be heard in the distance from time to time.

10. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)

Mars decides it needs Christmas, so they fly to Earth and kidnap Santa Claus. Admittedly, this movies won't appeal to everyone, but it does contain Marx products. Marx provided the toys and you catch glimpses of Marx trains in Santa’s factory.

11. White Christmas (1954)

Another Christmas classic that most of us have seen, likely multiple times. Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) and Phil Davis (Danny Kay) travel to Vermont on a train.

BONUS--Christmas songs with trains mentioned:

 Santa Claus Express (1933: Henry Hall BBC Dance Orchestra 1933)

 Believe (Josh Groban, from the movie Polar Express, 2004)

 Hello Mister Kringle (1939: Kay Kyser and his Orchestra): Band member asks for an electric train.

This is by no means a comprehensive list. What are YOUR holiday favorites that have trains in them? Share them in a comment below! We look forward to your suggestions.


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