Unusual: 5 surprising anecdotes about the train

The days of steam locomotives during the industrial revolution are long gone! The rail system has been modernised to the point where it is now the backbone of sustainable mobility worldwide.   

From its inception to this day, discover different aspects of the railway through this unusual blog.

In 1896, the train made a remarkable debut in the cinema

While the cinema was still in its early stages, the renowned Lumière brothers, who are credited with organising the first paid public screening of moving pictures in 1895, frightened the audience of with the film "L'Arrivée du train en gare de La Ciotat".

The short 50-second film is based exclusively on a still shot taken from the platform. By playing with the depth of field and the orientation of the railway tracks, the filmmakers accentuate the impression of the locomotive's movement towards the foreground.

Rumour has it that the audience was so terrified by the sight of a train approaching them and stunned by the level of realism, that they screamed and fled to the back of the room.

Coded message between French and British teams

What would you do if you didn't understand the other person's language? You would perhaps try to make yourself heard in a figurative way.

This is what would have happened during the first Eurostar journeys in 1993, when the French and British traffic controllers had to work together and communicate for the very first time.

It would appear that the French controllers warned their British colleagues - in the language of Shakespeare - that they had reduced the speed of the trains because of the presence of animals on the tracks.

When asked "what kind of animals?" and not having a translation of "deer" in their technical glossary, the French controllers are said to have replied: "Well, they look like cows with a pantograph [editor's note: device connecting the locomotive to the catenary] on their heads".

The longest railway tunnel in the world

Since it was commercially operated on June 1, 2016, the Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland (57.1 km) has been the longest railway tunnel in the world, dethroning the Japanese Seikan tunnel, which had held this position since 1988.

A "base tunnel" is a low-level tunnel that does not require trains to go through an ascent phase to reach it. This tunnel is considered a high-speed line because it allows trains to reach a maximum speed of 250 km/h.

Performing maintenance on a Eurostar train... by bike!

Eurostar is undoubtedly the fastest and most ecological way to reach London from Brussels, Lille or Paris.

To ensure that journeys run smoothly, the maintenance engineers keep a close eye on all the coaches! To do this, they ride their bikes along the almost 400 metres that separate the head of the train from its tail.

Working and exercising at the same time... or how to combine work and pleasure.

Top speed of 574.8 km/h

On April 3, 2007 in North-West France, the TGV set the current speed record for electric trains on "conventional" rails at 574.8 km/h after meticulous preparation.

This record was made possible by the use of a specially designed prototype train "V150". The attempt was even broadcasted live on the French television news.

In the end, the initial target of 540 km/h was smashed to the delight of the technicians, journalists and numerous guests who had boarded the train.