A good inexpensive line would be Athearn Blue Box. Nicely done, easy to work on, very reliable, used ones can be had for less than $20, with a few pushing past $50. Should you ever advance to DCC, they are easy to convert.
Though I enjoy tinkering with toy set Tyco, Bachmann and Life-Like, this is a somewhat masochistic thrill...they DO NOT run well nor can they ever be made to run on a level with Athearn and others. Do yourself a favor and stay away from them on Ebay and from yard sales and such, unless you can enjoy them for what they are and not for what they were never built for.
just a general question about ho. Years ago I tried to use the standard atlas track and always had trouble with derailments. What is the secret to keeping everything on the track on these big layouts that I see on programs like tracks ahead.
If the atlas are the short 9"tracks, there are too many joints so that the track can twist or buckle slightly. Misalignment both hor. and vert. can cause problems. Better to go to 36" long flex tracks, 1/4 of the joints for the train to skip over. If you continue to ue the atlas, get a flat metal plate, 1/4" X 2 " X 4" to lay overthe joints. With your fingers on top, listen for rattles, shim underneath if rattles. This is time consuming with many joints