Laying down the tracks
Some of the famous trains with some interesting information.
The Ghan: This train runs between Adelaide and Darwin via Alice Springs. The original name of this service was the “Afghan Express”, but it has long been known by the shorter version. This route is nearly 2000 miles long and takes more than 2 days for its journey between the North and South of Australia. The symbol is the silhouette of a man on a camel to recognize the Afghans who came to Australia to explore the outback.
Glacier Express: Introduced in 1930, the 291 km journey between St. Moritz and Zermatt takes seven and half hours, an average speed of under 40 Km/Hr. It has been advertised as the slowest ‘express’ train in the world and takes in 91 tunnels and 291 bridges, climbing to an altitude of 2003 meters at the Oberalp pass. The service takes its name from the Rhone Glacier, which it passed at one time.
Mallard: The locomotive holding the world speed record for steam engines. The record run, with a speed of just over 200 Km/Hr, took place in 1938. The engine remained in service until 1963, and after reconditioning during the late 1980s. It is now part of the ‘National Collection’ and preserved at the National Railway Museum in York.
Trans-Siberian Railway: This world-famous Russian Railway traverses 8 time zones in a period of 7 days. Its main route is Moscow-Vladivostok. This railway travels 9288 Kms and was built between 1891 and 1916. Its route also branches out to Mongolia and China. Russian and Mongolian tracks are broad gauge whereas Chinese tracks are metre gauge hence there is a break of gauge at the Chinese border.
Shinkansen: The name when translated means ‘new trunk line’. This is a network of Japanese trains, also known as ‘bullet train’. The first train was inaugurated in 1964 and the network has been operated by Japan Railways since 1987. The train average speed is 300 Km/Hr.
Blue Train: With beginnings in a 1923 service from Johannesburg to Cape Town to connect with ships to the UK, is one of the world’s most luxurious train services. The 1600 Km journey takes 27 hours with a stop en-route for an excursion. The name comes from the blue-painted carriages introduced into service in 1937.
The Lunatic Express: Nickname came from the book by Charles Miller published in 1971. More formally known as the Uganda Railway, it was built in what was to become Kenya at the end of the 19th century to give British control of the region. The best known Tsavo incident which saw 28 workers dragged off at night by man eating lions. A fictionalized account of the hunt, the 1996 film ‘The Ghost and the Darkness’. After a series of mergers and splits, the line is now in the hands of the Kenya Railway Corporation and the Uganda Railways Corporation.
Orient Express: This historic train’s route was between Paris and Istanbul. It featured in an Agatha Christie Novel ‘Murder on the Orient Express’. It was revived in 1982 as the Venice Simplon Orient Express, ran between Paris and Istanbul.
The Flying Scotsman: This British train operates between London’s King Cross and Edinburgh Waverly, covers a distance of 627 Km in 4 hours 30 minutes. It was originally a steam engine and the first locomotive to reach a speed of 100 MPH. It is operated by Great North Eastern Railway.
North South Railway: is a single track metre gauge line connecting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The line was established by the French Colonial rule and the length of 1726 Kms was completed over a period of nearly 40 years. It is also referred to as ‘Reunification Express’ referring to the Reunification of Vietnam.
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