The Glacier Express climbs almost 5 km during its daily eight-hour journey on a route that challenges locomotives to their max, and yet is so beautifully engineered, the railway has been declared a UNESCO Heritage Site – one of only three railroads in the world with that honour. Running between Zermatt, at the foot of the famous Matterhorn, and the ski town of St. Moritz, the Glacier Express travels across the mighty Swiss Alps as it runs from one side of the country to the other.
Up to 250,000 people take the train every year, which has been running this route since 1930, yet parts of the rail line have been in operation for more than 125 years. MIGHTY TRAINS explores the challenges of climbing such heights and the railroad that conquers them. The locomotives hauling this train are cutting-edge versions of old technology, using rack and pinion drives to pull the train up the steepest slopes on the route.
Japan's Tokaido Shinkansen, also known as the "bullet train", is a high-speed commuter train that travels more than 500 km between Tokyo and Osaka in less than 2.5 hours. The Shinkansen operates on its own dedicated railway lines at speeds of up to 285 km/hour while carrying upwards of 400,000 passengers on a daily basis. In operation since 1964, the Shinkansen has carried 5.3 billion people without a single passenger fatality.
Given Japan is one of the most earthquake-prone places in the world, the train is equipped with a range of detectors to prevent derailing in the event of seismic activity. Viewers also get a glimpse into the future of SuperConducting Maglev (magnetic levitation) train technology, a new form of rail transportation that Japan is currently testing and developing for deployment in 2027.
The Canadian is VIA Rail's iconic passenger train, travelling between Vancouver's Central Station and Toronto's Union Station on four-day, four-night journeys that cater to everyone from high-end vacationers to remote northern Ontario residents hitching a ride to the big city. A team of chefs work in the tiny galley kitchen to prepare fresh gourmet meals for the passengers looking to enjoy the scenery from the dining cars. While on its 4,466 km journey, The Canadian traverses much of the country, through the breathtaking Rocky Mountains, Prairies, boreal forest, and along the pristine lakes of Northern Ontario.
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