10. Rotary Snowplow
Why it’s amazing: Heavy snowfall can be problematic for just a regular train, blocking railways and making them inaccessible. The rotary snowplow changed all that, following its invention in Toronto, Canada, back in 1869. In the time since, rotary snowplows proliferated in many high-snowfall areas in North America, however in more recent decades, they have become an increasingly rare sight due to exorbitantly high maintenance costs. In fact, the best chance you have of seeing one is California’s Donner Pass in the middle of winter.
9. Swiss Re-620
Why it’s amazing: Simple – it’s the world’s most powerful electric train, churning out over 10,500 horsepower to catapult it along the tracks. It can reach 60 mph (100 km/h) from a standing start in just 5.8 seconds, so you’d better make sure you’re strapped in if you ever happen to be riding in one. This train has all that power in order to pull weaker trains through the steep, twisting passes high up in the Swiss Alps.
8. Fastech 360
Why it’s amazing: Because it’s one of the fastest trains on planet Earth, and it has cat ears! This test model of Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train) can reach 224 mph (360 km/h), hence its name. If you’re wondering what the cat ears are, they are airbrakes that can be deployed in the event of an emergency. In fact, the Japanese call this train the Nekomimi Shinkansen, or the cat-eared Shinkansen. Just two of these experimental trains were ever built, and were briefly in operational service in the mid-2000s.
7. “Black Beetle” Jet Train
Why it’s amazing: Because it’s a standard, self-powered railway car with two booster jets from a Convair B-36 bomber strapped to its roof. What’s more is that it achieved a top speed of 183 mph (295 km/h) 50 years ago back in 1966. That speed still represents the light-speed rail speed record that stands in the US to this very day. Sadly, the Black Beetle was just an experiment, and was considered far too costly to ever be put into operational service.
6. LNER Class A4 4468 Mallard
Why it’s amazing: The Mallard is still the fastest steam locomotive in history, which is amazing considering it set its record all the way back in 1938. It achieved a speed of 126 mph (202 km/h) on a slightly downward slope. What’s more is that it looks absolutely fantastic – if Bugatti had made a steam locomotive back then, it would probably have looked much like this train.
5 UAC TurboTrain
Why it’s amazing: Because it was one of the very first high-speed trains in the style of the world-famous ones in operation today (think of Japan’s Shinkansen, or France’s TGV). The Canadian design was powered by a gas turbine engine, and was also one of the first-ever tilting trains to enter operational service. It was in service in Canada between 1968 and 1982, and between 1968 and 1976 in the US. The aftermath of the 1973 oil embargo was cited as the reason for the TurboTrain’s untimely demise. None of the eight trains built remain in existence today.
4. Finnish Armored Trains
Why they're amazing: Although there have been numerous nations around the world that have operated armored trains at different points in their history, none were quite as amazing as the ones the Finns came up with. They basically took a regular locomotive, covered it with bricks, sandbags, and then welded sheets of metal over the top to finish off the job. These improvised armored trains allowed the Finnish Whites to take on (and beat) the Finnish Reds during the Finnish Civil War.
Why it’s amazing: Other than being stunningly beautiful, how many trains have you seen with a giant propeller at the rear? Inspired by the Zeppelin airships of the early 20th Century, the Schienenzeppelin set what was the world rail speed record, reaching 143 mph (230 km/h) back in 1931. In fact, this railcar still holds the world speed record for a petrol-powered rail vehicle. Sadly, the one and only example ever built was dismantled in 1939, with material from it contributing to the Axis war effort following the breakout of World War II.
2. Shanghai Maglev
Why it’s amazing: Because it’s a train that “floats” on a magnetic field at speeds of up to 268 mph (431 km/h) between downtown Shanghai, and the city’s airport. It’s also only the second-ever magnetic levitation train to enter commercial service. Last but not least, maglev (magnetic levitation) technology is thought to represent the future of the entire rail industry.
1. Wuppertal Suspension Railway
Why it’s amazing: Because it’s a train that’s suspended from rails rather than fixed to the ground by them! This unique railway system is 105 years old at the time of writing, and has a ridership of 82,000 passengers per day, carrying them along an 8.3-mile (13.3-kilometer) stretch of track