Essay by Metalroid September 2002

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The steam train

The first public railway in the world opened in 1825. It ran between Stockton and Darlington in England. Thirty-four wagons carrying coal or passengers were pulled by the steam engine (called the 'Locomotion'). George Stephenson designed this engine who then built the famous 'Rocket' that ran from Manchester to Liverpool in 1830. He won a prize of £ 500 for the Rocket in 1829. Steam transport had begun and soon spread into Europe and America.

Modern Trains

From the early days of the Locomotion and Rocket the steam engine grew in speed, size and power. Huge engines pulled trade goods and passengers across continents. In some parts of China, India and Africa these original great steam engines are still hard at work.

The fastest steam train ever was 'Mallard' or British engine, which reached 201 kph (125 mph) in 1938.

Diesel Trains

Diesels had replaced steam engines by the 1950S.

These ran on diesel fuel instead of coal and were therefore much cleaner. The diesel speed record is 238.9 kph (148.5 mph), set in 1987.

Electric Trains

Trains driven by electricity are clean, quiet and fast. A frame called a 'pantograph' on top of the train is in contact with the power cable all the time the train is running.

The French TGV train travels at a speed of 270 kph (168 mph) but can exceed 300 kph (186 mph).

Bullet trains

The famous bullet trains have been in service of Japan since 1964. Speeding along at 210 kph (130 mph) these trains carry almost half million passengers a day on the 512 km (320 mile) line between Tokyo and Osaka.

Future trains

Different ideas for the future are being worked on. One that is already working is 'maglev' (magnetic levitation). Magnets make the train hover 15mm...