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I would probably at least cost-compare other sources for track as you will want a good amount to make a decent sized layout. BrickLink, eBay, BrickOwl are all decent sources.
The easiest way to get started is to purchase a set that includes all the Power Functions like #60052.
Considering that you'll probably also want some other wheels, couplers, etc, to build rolling stock, your best bet is to buy a whole train kit. The City trains are usually motorized and come with everything you need.
I've heard that the rechargeable battery box, while being more expensive, is ultimately more convenient to use than the AAA ones. I use rechargeable AAA batteries in mine and it's fine.
I like flexi track, never had problems with it.
And I have read (though not experienced) that the rechargeable box can cause issues in some sets due to how light it is. The boxes that come with sets take a bunch of batteries, which gives the locomotive some weight over its powered wheels so it has the traction needed to pull a bunch of cars.
This is probably the most expensive aspect of Lego collecting.
And yeah, Lego trains can get really expensive, especially if you look in the rear-view mirror.
In the case the the Emerald Night, many of us found better ways than Lego to power it and posted details on the web to include here:
As others have said, start off with one of the Lego Train sets that has everything you need.
American style freight: #60052
European Style freight: #60098
Both are available at Lego.com
Lastly, If you want to really enter the world of Lego Trains, look through this forum!
Once you have, there's a couple of other things to think about.
Flexi-tracks: personally I wouldn't bother. It's a nice idea, but not great implementation. They work ok, but look dreadful, and are noisy as well.
Train Battery Box: Yes, there's two types. The AAA one takes 6 batteries, and is a little heavier than the Rechargable one. The rechargeable one is quite a bit more expensive, and you'll need a charger for it too. However, there are two big advantages to it. Firstly, you don't have to keep buying batteries. Secondly, you don't have to take the train apart to get the batteries out.
I've found that both of them hold the charge for about 3 to 4 hours, depending on factors like traction, total weight of the train, friction etc.
How much each of these advantages and disadvantages weighs on you will depend on where and when you intend to run your trains. If running them on a small loop at home for half an hour or so a week, I'd probably go with the AAA box. If you plan on displaying at shows though, I'd go with the rechargable box, because otherwise you'll go through a LOT of batteries (which will quickly offset the cheaper cost of the AAA box), and you don't really want to be fiddling around removing the box and changing the batteries at a show.
Finally, as @SumoLego said, getting into trains - in a serious way - is expensive. I used the AAA battery box for the first show I ran a train at, back in early 2014. I never did again, as I used 24 or more (good) batteries. I now use rechargable boxes, and have two trains per loop, so that I can take one off to charge and put another fully-charged one on.
I currently have thirteen rechargable battery boxes (and seven chargers), which means that when I've finished building (I have two trains currently under construction) I will have ten trains that I can run, which works out at five loops of track with trains running at the same time. (Some of the trains will have two battery boxes etc in them).
It is expensive, but also a bit addictive too.
Of course, if you just plan on running them at home for a little bit each week, get the AAA box and your wallet will thank you ;)
I want to motorize my #10173 Christmas Train but I want to do it the most basic way. Would it just be a matter of getting the #88002 Motor and #88000 battery box? From looking at both it seems like I would need some other cable as it looks like they only have female connectors on them. I'm not really familiar with LEGO's power functions since I havent used them before.
I'm not really interested in going the remote control route as I would only really use it a couple of times a year while my winter village display is up at Christmas.
No. The 2 x 2 connected to the motor has different genders top and bottom.
1st, yes, if you use the AAA box without speed control, it'll go flat out as soon as you turn it on.
2nd, running 25 trains at a show would get far too expensive for me in terms of AAA batteries needed (I estimate I'd use a minimum of 600 batteries at one show). So, even though 25 rechargable boxes would be eye-wateringly expensive, it'd only take me 3 or 4 shows to recoup the cost through not having to buy AAA batteries. Plus, I don't buy battery boxes all at once, but rather a couple every few months or so, when I need them.
Then there's the lack of multiple radius track and multiple length straight track*. There are third parties that make these, so you might want to check them out.
*Yes I know there's flex track, but I prefer track that doesn't look like Thomas Take & Play track.