Trains – the Attraction of the Iron Horse

by on February 11th, 2014
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Trains depend upon wheels. The wheel preceded trains by some five centuries (About Inventors -1). Before trains appeared on the scene much more had to be invented such as steam engines, locomotives and flanged wheels(About Inventors – 2). This occurred in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Before trains barges and ships were the vehicles for the transport of bulk cargoes and many people. Archimedes gave a scientific explanation of flotation in about 250 BC (InfoPlease) but boats had by then existed for some 4000 years (Ships : A Timeline). Great bulk carriers and container ships now ply the ocean but passenger ships are mostly cruise ships rather than regularly routed port to port vessels.

The Wright Brothers flew the first aircraft in 1903 (The Wright Brothers) although much of the theory of the aerofoil surface which has allowed the construction of today’s great passenger aircraft took place some twenty years later (Hermann Glauert). Air travel came after trains.

Since the first passenger train was developed in 1825 (Ask) rail transportation bridged the gap between sea and air transport. After that small beginning in Britain the great rail routes of the world have advanced from utilitarian freight and people movers to tourist attractions in their own rights.

The meeting and joining of the Central Pacific Railroad and the Union Pacific Railroad in 1869 was commemorated by the casting of a golden spike and the site of the connection is still a tourist attraction in Utah (About National & State Parks). The Canadian Pacific Railroad was completed in 1885 (Canadian Pacific). These were the first railroads which crossed the North American continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific. From a passenger’s viewpoint the trip was spectacular and comfortable. Amtrak, the USA Government rail system, offers many tourist routes.

In Europe the Orient Express originally ran from Paris to Istanbul from 1883 to 2009, although the route changed many times (Orient Express). A private company now operates a service over part of the old route although using some original rolling stock. Passengers travel in great luxury on a service similar to that made famous by Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel “Murder on the Orient Express”.

The Blue Train of South Africa takes 27 hours to cover almost 1000 miles from Cape Town to Pretoria. It is also a byword for luxurious comfort, good food and amazing scenery (The Blue Train).

The Ghan needs a couple of days to cross Australia from south to north via Alice Springs (Rail Plus). The Indian Pacific runs east/west from Sydney to Perth over three nights across the Nullarbor Plain (Indian Pacific) .

For the ardent rail traveler the trans-Siberian railway from Moscow to Vladivostock snakes across central and southern Russia for about 10,000 kilometres for eight days (Trans-Siberian Railway). It is the marathon of train journeys.

Founded in 1857 Indian Railways is one of the few remaining systems owned by a government, having been nationalized in 1951 (Indian Railways). It is very much a working national transport system carrying millions of passenger each year although it does offer some luxury tourist routes.

The attraction of the great train journeys of the world is in the luxury, speed, comfort and camaraderie of bygone years which is to be found on such trips. Passengers travel in the style of the large ocean liners or first class hotels although not at the speed of a modern airliner. With snarling, smoke belching prime movers now just a memory who would wish the smooth rhythmic journey in good company over?

References:

About Inventors – 1 : http://inventors.about.com/od/wstartinventions/a/wheel.htm

About Inventors – 2 : http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blrailroad.htm

InfoPlease : http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/sci/A0804583.html

Ships : A Timeline : http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/sci/A0804583.html

The Wright Brothers:Wilbur and Orville : http://www.wright-house.com/wright-brothers/Wrights.html

Hermann Glauert : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermann_Glauert

Ask : http://answers.ask.com/Science/Physics/when_was_the_first_train_invented

About National & State Parks : http://usparks.about.com/od/historicalparks/a/Golden-Spike-NHS.htm

Canadian Pacific : http://www.cpr.ca/en/about-cp/our-past-present-and-future/pages/default.aspx

Orient Express : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orient_Express

The Blue Train : http://www.bluetrain.co.za/about.htm

Rail Plus : http://www.railplus.com.au/australia-by-rail/australias-great-train-journeys/the-ghan/prices-info.htm?gclid=CPTcuaf1jKwCFQtb7AodrSwpuA

Indian Pacific : http://www.discoverwest.com.au/indian-pacific.html

The Trans-Siberian : http://www.transsiberianrailway.org/trans-siberian-route.html

Indian Railways : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Railways


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