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From the locomotive to rail traffic control to the maintenance depot, Mighty Trains takes audiences on a journey riding the rails around the world. We will follow the engineers and conductors as they navigate their way through busy rail yards, vie for priority departures and deal with the unexpected, oftentimes on railways designed almost 200 years ago. Train Managers, load-masters, head chefs, track inspectors, rail traffic control officers and passengers move us through the train, as well as outside of it, in order to experience an in-depth journey into the heart of our train - featuring our intrepid traveler, Teddy Wilson.
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.
Mighty Trains follows the crew that operates that WP&YR as they get the route and equipment up and running after a long winter season – including clearing snow from the tracks, implementing their avalanche program and rebuilding and upgrading their original steam locomotive and vintage passenger cars.
The crew are all Skagway area locals and most come from families who have worked on the railway for generations. Theirs is a unique knowledge of the railway and technology that they are all too happy to share.
Mighty Trains joins the North Rail Express as it travels on Europe's longest continuous freight link. The first forty-two kilometers of this link is the most treacherous. Passing through the mountains between the two countries is never routine. During the long Arctic winters, lack of daylight and limited visibility are big challenges. Once through the mountains, they have to constantly slow down the heavy train on the steep downward section into Kiruna.
Mighty Trains takes viewers inside Great Southern Rail's enormous Adelaide warehouse where everything from toilet paper to truffle oil has to be precisely inventoried and stored for the long trip north.
The train is equipped with a special motorail car to transport passenger's cars when they vacation across country or are moving from one part of Australia to another.
We take a special trip on the Pichi Richi Railway – a narrow-gauge tourist line operating along the original Ghan route, where flash floods and rocky terrain made for difficult travel. The Ghan moved its tracks further west in 1956, but the Pichi Richi Railway offers tourists a trip on an original steam locomotive train to experience what Ghan travel was like a hundred years ago.
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