Ze Train! Ze Train!

19 Jul

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Planes, trains or automobiles? What is your favorite way to travel 500 miles?

It has to be the train.  Unlike a car, I can sit, stand, walkabout.  All traffic is going in the same direction.  Unlike a plane, I won’t crash into a mountain and have to eat my fellow passengers.  Even I don’t like my food that much.  But I do like trains, so here are some interesting facts for you:

  • The earliest railway in Great Britain was built between October 1603 and October 1604.  Which was a bit of a waste of time, as trains hadn’t been invented yet.
  • The first railway in America was used in 1826.  That was in the days when ideas flowed this way to that, and not the other way round.
  • The steepest Cogwheel railway in the world is in Switzerland. It has a gradient of 48%.  Rather like their chocolate.
  • Great Britain has over 40,000 bridges on the rail system.  If you’re lucky, the one in your area will be open for use.
  • The longest straight stretch of railway is in Australia. The part without any curves is 478km (301 miles) long.  This might be the one time I’d choose to fly.
  • The heaviest train weighs more than 27,000 elephants.  In the scale of things, that’s a pretty big scale.
  • In the 1800s, trains moved at peak speeds of 25mph.  Ah, the good old days, when trains moved so quickly.
  • The only railway to go to the top of a volcano was built on Mount Vesuvius in Italy, in 1880.  The ride down was much faster.
  • There was rush hour traffic on the Oregon-California trail.  The more things change…
  • The fastest train in the world is the TGV in France. It is a similar train to the Eurostar which runs in the UK and across to France and Belgium. It can go at 515km (322 miles) an hour – four and a half times faster than a car on the motorway.  A motorway in Europe, that is; in Britain, it’s forty-four and a half times faster.
  • Central Station has the largest platform in the world.  That used to be true; now it’s Lady Gaga.
  • In test runs, the French TGV reached speeds of 584km per hour and when it braked it took 10 miles to stop.  Bet that aircraft carrier is looking mighty nippy round about now.
  • The longest possible journey on one train can be taken between Moscow and Vladivostok in Russia, on the Trans-Siberian Express. The journey is 9,297km (5,857 miles) long.  No wonder Dr Zhivago is such a boring book.
  • The largest station in the world is Grand Central in New York. It has 44 platforms.  Lady Gaga is working on a fiendish plot to steal them for her next video.
  • Even in full emergency, it can take a train a mile or more to stop.  This means if the engineer can see you, it is already too late to stop for you.  Moral: stay off the track.
  • Time was standardised by the introduction of railway timetables.  ‘The train arriving at platform 1 is due at four minutes past sunset’ wouldn’t work on cloudy days.

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27 Responses to “Ze Train! Ze Train!”

  1. mairedubhtx July 19, 2011 at 15:15 #

    You did a good job of addressing this prompt.

    Like

  2. Paula Tohline Calhoun July 19, 2011 at 15:33 #

    I am also in love with trains, and there are virtually no passenger trains (except local public transport and AmTrak, a commuter system) remaining in the US anymore – all freight, and those tracks are deteriorating rapidly. IT IS SO STUPID OF THE USA to not revitalize the rail traffic all over the US – so much better for the environment, etc.

    My dream is to take the Trans-Canadian Railway, from Quebec to Vancouver. It is on my Bucket List.

    I also adore Grand Central Station. Used to commute to there from Connecticut at least 5 times a week. The trip was 1 hr. 5 minutes. The station still is grand, but not near as grand and varied as it used to be way back when. There is still the big Kodak screen that displays gorgeous photos – the screen is at least 30 or 40 feet wide by about 25 feet high (I may be underestimating). There used to be lots of really great restaurants there – now only a few, I believe, and there was also a small movie theater. They showed travel films, or funny little short films and cartoons – I remember watching one hilarious one made by McDonald’s called “Hamburger University.” it portrayed, very comically, the way they produced their hamburgers and fries, etc. (Back when that was all they made!) It was great to slip in and watch, or just take a nap in the comfy seats – it only cost about 25 cents back then – when waiting for your train. Ah! Memories.

    Like

    • Tilly Bud July 19, 2011 at 15:37 #

      A cinema at the station – what a fabulous idea! Great for long waits.

      Governments around the world should be investing heavily in trains and buses and trams – the economy, unemployed and the environment would all benefit. Of course, the car industry and petrol companies would suffer. Perhaps that’s why it hasn’t been done yet.

      I see those wonderful Am Trak trains in movies and I am determined to ride one if – when! – I get to America.

      Like

  3. misswhiplash July 19, 2011 at 15:48 #

    WELL DONE ! TillyB wonderful different slant on Transport. Full of facts and quirky bits.
    Do I suspect that you also are not a fan of Lady Gaga. Redneck Princess wrote about Lady G this morning.Don’t think that she like her either!

    BUT i do like your post, it is full of things that I did not know..NOW I am clever!

    Like

    • Tilly Bud July 19, 2011 at 16:47 #

      I like her music; I think her dress sense is ridiculous, but clever, because it gets her in the news.

      Like

  4. vivienne Blake July 19, 2011 at 16:07 #

    Lovely post about my favourite means of transport. I’ve been on a TGV, when we went to Carcassonne a few years ago, and it doesnm’t feel particularly fast. I’ve also much enjoyed night sleeper trains – a real money saver, as you save a night’s lodging each end of the trip.

    Like

    • Tilly Bud July 19, 2011 at 16:48 #

      What a good idea! Something else for me to try.

      Like

  5. vivienne Blake July 19, 2011 at 16:08 #

    Isn’t the Japanese bullet train faster than the TGV?

    Like

    • Tilly Bud July 19, 2011 at 16:49 #

      Probably. I never check the veracity of my internet-plucked facts 🙂

      Like

  6. Patti July 19, 2011 at 17:39 #

    My favorite image: the faster train trip down Vesuvius.

    Like

  7. Pseu July 19, 2011 at 17:57 #

    I’d love to do this trip:

    http://www.railaustralia.com.au/theGhan.php

    I don’t get ravel sick on a train and can read (can anyone explain why?)
    I’m hopeless on boats and in the car.

    Like

  8. kateshrewsday July 19, 2011 at 19:12 #

    Lurve the TGV. Sex on rails. (Sorry, bit graphic). I love the romance of trains; the Orient Express, Close Encounter, North By Northwest….a sleeper across Europe is a lifelong aim of mine, but I haven’t done it yet.

    So totally with you on the whole eating people thing.

    Like

    • Tilly Bud July 20, 2011 at 11:29 #

      Glad it’s not just me.

      Mind you, I’ve just posted a poem about the overpopulation of this planet on my other blog; maybe cannibalism is the way forward…?

      Like

  9. Tinman July 19, 2011 at 19:38 #

    The longest train ever was the one worn by Princess Di at her wedding, you forgot to mention that one…

    Like

  10. earlybird July 19, 2011 at 20:09 #

    Loved this post.

    The TGV is pretty amazing. When it works as it should.

    Like

  11. Janie's Place July 19, 2011 at 21:50 #

    Interesting facts. I’ve only been on an airplane once, and due to all the freaky security issues now, am not likely to again. Be obscenely fondled and have my xray as-good-as-nude photograph oogled by creepy security dudes, no thanks. I’ve got no where that important to go to be violated like that by choice. So, I’d have to agree with you that trains are way better ways to travel than cars.

    When I was a teenager and young twenty-something we’d ride the train into Chicago. That was living large! I even rode on the famous City of New Orleans, although I didn’t take it all the way to New Orleans.

    Like

    • Tilly Bud July 20, 2011 at 11:32 #

      I haven’t heard of the City of New Orleans, I’m afraid.

      I would fly over the Channel rather than use the Chunnel, especially after the recent earthquake.

      Like

      • Janie's Place July 20, 2011 at 22:39 #

        There’s an Arlo Guthrie song about it. The City of New Orleans, the train not the city. An American classic.

        Like

  12. barb19 July 19, 2011 at 22:28 #

    Wow – all those interesting facts about trains; you did a great job Tilly and put a different slant on this topic.
    Trains are my favourite mode of transport too – you can sit back and take in the scenery in comfort, walk around, eat in comfort – they have it all, even a loo!

    Like

    • Tilly Bud July 20, 2011 at 11:34 #

      Just like a plane, without the crashing into the sea 🙂

      Like

  13. Cindy July 20, 2011 at 03:56 #

    I find the idea of a long train journey very romantic. Alas, you’re likely to get mugged on most South African trains.
    What does an elephant weigh?

    Like

  14. eof737 July 20, 2011 at 08:55 #

    Very interesting data on your fav mode of transport… Good for you!
    When are you planning your next long train ride? 🙂

    Like

    • Tilly Bud July 20, 2011 at 11:40 #

      As soon as my lottery numbers come up…I forgot to mention the inflated prices 🙂

      Like

I welcome your comments but be warned: I'm menopausal and as likely to snarl as smile. Wine or Maltesers are an acceptable bribe; or a compliment about my youthful looks and cheery disposition will do in a pinch.

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