Trains have accompanied us for over 200 years, since then they have developed and there are a variety of types of trains in cities, in the mountains, between villages and countries. However, it turns out that there are different types of trains that we are less familiar with, and for that we have gathered here a number of special examples from around the world.
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Wuppertal Schwebebahn, Germany
If ever a railroad was perfectly suited to its surroundings, then this train absolutely lives up to the requirements. Its track was built to link several towns with industrial areas along the narrow and winding valley of the Wuppertal, and the construction of the suspension railway was completed as early as 1901 and was a decisive moment in the growth of the towns that eventually merged to become the town of Wuppertal in 1929.
It may seem unusual to visitors, but to the residents of Wuppertal it is the backbone of the city’s public transport network, the rail plowing over congested streets to offer fast and direct journeys along an eight kilometer route. The individual rails carrying the trains are supported by a series of 480 steel rods weighing almost 20,000 tons in total. More than 80,000 people a day pass by 31 carriages that travel at speeds of up to 60 km/h.
Wuppertal Schwebebahn, Germany (Photo: Instagram screenshot)
This train holds the record for the steepest public train in the world, it opened in December 2017 and has become a global tourist attraction in itself. The unique carriages with their rotating “barrels” allow passengers to stay at the same angle and travel calmly up the mountain at gradients of up to 110%. The length of the route is a little over 1.7 kilometers and the train makes the journey in five minutes.
In addition, this train is a kind of “lifeline” for the inaccessible village of Stoos, located high on a mountain near the town of Schwyz, south of Zurich. Each train is equipped with three passenger “barrels” plus an additional section for cargo. Every year, up to 10,000 tonnes of freight – essential supplies that go up the hill to restaurants and hotels – go through, with rubbish and recycling coming back down. It can also carry up to 1,500 passengers per hour, plus their skis or snowboards.
Stoosbahn, Switzerland (Photo: Instagram screenshot)
Hythe Pier Railway, England
The pier’s railways have been an attraction for a number of British seaside resorts since the 19th century. The most famous section is a drive several kilometers long to the end of Southend Pier on the east coast of the country. The train was first built for fun but actually also saves visitors a long walk back on the beach.
The current pier was opened in 1881 and the railway was added as early as 1909. It is the oldest continuously operating pier railway in the world. At first, the cars were manually driven but in 1922 a new electric track replaced the first track built. Two British Army surplus electric locomotives, originally built for factory work in the First World War, powered the trains at the time.
Hythe Pier Railway, England (Photo: Instagram screenshot)
Chongqing Monorail, China
The Chinese city of Chongqing is home to the world’s longest and one of the busiest elevated rail systems in existence, carrying millions of passengers a year on two high-capacity “shaped beam” lines with a total length of 100 kilometers. One of the lines transports over 250 million people every year. The two lines, opened between 2005 and 2016, include 70 stations with a mix of underground and elevated sections.
The city’s unique topography, with extreme height differences between the densely populated mountain plateaus and the Yangtze and Jialing river valleys, previously forced Chongqing authorities to seek an alternative to conventional metro trains. The ability of the light rail to handle steep climbs and curves made it the ideal transportation solution for this mega city.
Chongqing Monorail, China (Photo: Instagram screenshot)
Ferrobus, South America
Despite the deceptive and unique appearance of this train, it is an improvised means of transportation that plows through many mountainous regions in South America. In fact, it is a combination of old bus bodies with wheels on rails. This unique “train” travels on abandoned railway tracks built in the 19th and early 20th centuries between the Andes mountains, and passes through Chile, Bolivia and Colombia. This train ride is especially popular among tourists who want to avoid uncomfortable, and often even dangerous, trips on the roads in those countries.
Ferrobus, South America (Photo: Instagram screenshot)
Pokémon With You, Japan
In Japan, they came up with a creative idea for a train that attracts many fans from all over the world, when it comes to all Pokemon lovers. A local train in the country has been painted and designed to resemble the most famous character from the cartoon series, Pikachu.
The bright yellow color dominates inside and out, with Pikachu motifs covering the entire train, from the floor to the walls and curtains. One of the carriages has seating, while another carriage has a play space. During the two-hour journey from Ichinoseki to Kasenuma in the Tohoku region, children can play, nap and socialize with giant Pikachu dolls or even pretend to drive the train.
Pokémon With You, Japan (Photo: Instagram screenshot)
Katoomba Scenic Railway, Australia
Not far from the city of Sydney is a train that is unlike anything else in the world. Located in the heart of the Blue Mountains, the Katoomba Scenic Railway is another contender for the title of world’s steepest railway. But, unlike the Staussbahn in Switzerland, this railway provides a hair-raising descent down sandstone cliffs and rocky road and through tunnels set above stunning scenery. The carriages with the glass roof take up to 84 visitors on each ride at a 52 degree incline, although the angle of your seat to 64 degrees.
Katoomba Scenic Railway, Australia (Photo: Instagram screenshot)
Chengdu Air Railway, China
Over the past two decades, China’s railway industry has become the largest and most diverse in the world. Among other things, with the help of a spectacular expansion of the high-speed rail network and the country’s global exports. But there is much more to China than sleek high-speed trains and a mega-city subway, the size and diversity of this vast nation required diverse solutions to serve areas that conventional trains cannot reach.
A unique example is the world’s first suspended elevated train with a glass floor currently operating in Sichuan province. This train connects four stops at busy tourist spots along an 11.5 km route in the city of Chengdu. Unusually, the train’s components are made of carbon fiber and it is powered by rechargeable batteries with electricity from renewable sources. But the panoramic windows and transparent floor are the most spectacular features. that allow up to 120 passengers to view the view at 270 degrees.