Everything about trains

Updated: Jan 31

Let's begin the journey, everything about trains (Longest, fastest, expensive, slowest, etc.).

"If you remember this train, then your childhood is awesome!"--- This is the first thing that struck my mind when I saw this image. And I believe, everyone who is reading this would feel the same. So, I have a question for you. Let's see how many will answer it.

What is the name of the show; and the name of the train? (Hint: The name of the series includes the name of the train.)

I will inform you of the answer in the end or maybe in the middle (so that you will read the whole blog, lol).

Unusual facts about train

Let's begin our journey with some unusual facts about trains:

  • Ore trains in Sweden traveling down to the coast generate five times the amount of electricity they use, powering nearby towns and the return trip for other trains

  • In Japan, trains are so punctual that any delay over 5 minutes usually incurs an apology and a “delay certificate” for passengers on their way to work. Trains delayed for an hour or more may even make the news.

  • The term “horsepower” originated as a marketing tool. James Watt used the term to indicate how many horses just one of his engines could replace.

  • America’s first steam locomotive lost a race to a horse. (Technically, the locomotive would have won the race, but a belt broke loose making it forcedly retire and the horse won)

  • Japan's Kami-Shirataki station has been open for years only for one passenger, who is a student.

  • India runs one of the largest and busiest railroad systems in the world. It has more than 71,500 miles (115,000km) of track, which could circle the Earth almost three times.

Oldest train ever built

If you are talking about the beginning of the train, then the answer depends on what you define a train as.

If a train is defined as a locomotive like it generally referred to; then the birth of train dates back to 6th century B.C as in Wikipedia. But then, it also includes the wagons.

And wagons means, both the wooden ones pulled by horses (or even humans) which began around 3500 years ago and also the small ones used in mines which increased the iron production tremendously.

But the one I'm discussing here is not the one pulled by men or animals; instead, it is the one pulled by an engine.

Note: Diolkos, the wagonway build by Greek in 600 B.C (served till 1st century A.D) is considered as the first railway in the entire train and railway history. But it doesn't tell us about any locomotive, it just describes a paved trackway to shorten the transportation time built by greatest inventors, Greek.

Birth of steam engines

Then, the first-ever trains were the famous steam engines. They quickly spread across the globe in the 19th century and became a revolution.

But it is hard to pinpoint the exact year when they started. So, after I did my homework, I nearly figured things.

First, in 1698, Thomas Savery patented an early steam engine that could pump water from mines using the impellent force of fire. Notably, it has four serious problems.

Even with those serious problems which made his invention impractical, he acquired a 14 + 21 years patent protection. The patent covered all engines that raised water by fire.

This made Thomas Newcomen work with Savery. In 1712, Newcomen built a steam engine that could pump water. But it dealt with many hurdles and the fully successful engine was built later along with his partner John Calley.

All these people laid the foundation for the genesis of the trains and the first-ever modern steam engine was built nearly half a century later in 1769.

Father of the modern steam engine: James Watt

Using both inventions, James Watt developed a reciprocating engine in 1769. But it's a stationary steam engine which powered cotton mills. And in 1776, he invented the first-ever modern steam engine which had a crankshaft.

This steam engine became a revolution and eventually, James Watt became a wealthy person by using his marketing skills (mentioned in the 'facts').

By 1794, he patented a design for steam locomotive and by 1804, the first full-scale working steam locomotive was built. In 1804, the first cargo locomotives were built. In 1825, George Stephenson, father of the modern railway, built the public train, Locomotion No 1.

He and his son built the first railway in 1830, which used fully steam-powered trains. It operated between 1830 to 1845 for a length of 50Kms.

Oldest working train

As mentioned earlier, Locomotion No 1, is the first passenger carried train and there are many different cargo-carrying trains before it.

So, to sort the oldest train list, I'm considering the oldest train which is still working.

By that list, Fairy Queen in India is the oldest working train ever.

Constructed and sent to Calcutta in 1855, it kept working for half a century and retired in 1908. 88 years later, on Feb 1st, 1997, it was brought out of retirement.

In 1998, it was certified by Guinness world records as the oldest steam locomotive in regular operation. And the train is still working.

The longest and shortest trains

It's nearly impossible to sort this list. Because a train length is measured by the number of coaches it has, but the coaches are never limited.

There's a precaution limit for the coaches in the passenger and general category, but it's not the ending wall. You can add even more coaches to it with some distribution of power techniques.

But the typical longest cargo-carrying trains are Union Pacific Trains with one of its longest trains pulled 296 container cars. And the typical longest passenger car is, 'The Ghan' in Australia which once pulled 99 cars.

Coming to the shortest train, nearly every train can be considered as the shortest when there are no cars connected to it. (I mistakenly wrote the title as shortest and longest, so, I added this para)

The fastest and slowest trains in the world

When talking about the fastest trains, the bullet trains (high-speed trains), and the maglev trains occupy the top places.

Under test conditions and on test tracks, the fastest train is the maglev Series L0 (A07), which topped 603 km/hr (374.68 mph). But the regular public service maglev train which holds the Guinness record for the fastest train is the SHANGHAI TRANSRAPID MAGLEV TRAIN.

It reaches a top speed of 431 km/h (267.8 mph). It makes a 30 km journey in just 8 minutes.

The slowest express train in the world is the Glacier Express in Switzerland. It traverses through 91 tunnels and over 291 bridges with a stretched length of around 291 km.

I'll brief you about why it is the slowest train.

The lowest point on its journey is 585 meters high from sea level, while the highest point is 2033 mts high. And one of the tunnel it transverses through is around 15.4 km long.

Now, won't you believe it is the slowest train?

Most luxurious train

Before continuing with the most expensive train, I want to let you know the answer to the earlier question. If you don't remember, scroll to the top and you will remember the question, "What's the name of the show; and the name of the train?"

The answer: Thomas and friends (show name), Thomas the tank (train name).

Now, continuing with the topic, I want you to guess the cost for a night in the most luxurious train?

I can't keep you waiting for more, so, I'm immediately answering my own question.

The most luxurious train costs a max of $3,385 per night and is owned and operated by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).

The Maharaja's Express is the world's luxurious train ever. The train stops at 8 destinations in its 7-day journey and there is 60 staff to serve you 24*7.

The train pulls 23 coaches and can carry 84 passengers. (Fun fact: It travels even when there are only 10 guests). The train has a state of the art one coach kitchen where nearly all types of food are prepared.

To give you a more clear picture of its luxuries, I will let you know the cost of the plates on the train.

The plates are gold plated like the spoons and can cost up to $600.

A blog by the author of God’s Chess novel series Pabba Abhishek, aka Writer of God. You can find his other blogs in mediamug.in.

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