@train steve posted:
My concern is that the $2500 trains will hurt new people getting into the hobby.
The same argument was made back when it was, "will $10 for a new locomotive hurt the hobby because who can afford that?" If you go back and look at the old magazines, you'll see letter writers and editors addressing this question even back then.
When I was a kid and was reading Model Railroader in the early 80s, I specifically remember a letter to the editor about that, from some older guy who remembered back in the day of $1 cars and he was aghast that Athearn was charging what he considered way too much. Even as a kid with no money no access to way to earn any (and at the mercy of parents who meant well but weren't rolling in cash), I didn't think the stuff was all that expensive.
This is where free market comes into play. If Lionel wasn't selling all these higher-end locomotives with all the literal bells and whistles, you wouldn't see them come out with more and more stuff.
I find it funny especially among 3-rail fans, many of who I know buy stuff just to sit in boxes for eternity, as they're probably the reasons why the stuff just keeps getting more and more complicated (and maybe more proportionately expensive). In other words, some Lionel collectors will buy anything they make, so they make more and more and keep raising the bar at the same time.