Actually got motivated tonight and checked over the run/pgm switch, had a loose solder connection. A little bit of heat and voila I have a fully functional locomotive. Thank you to all for the keen advice.
You're obviously a tinkerer. If you weren't you'd have thrown a fit by now about Lionel's poor quality, and instructed the rest of us to band together and stop buying from Lionel in order to send the company a stern message.
A cooler head prevailed here -- just a little tweak and you're good.
I'm not saying that we all should ignore what has apparently become a serious problem with quality, however there are times when it's just not worth the fuss, and this was one of them.