Some simple train principles from a Top Gear episode

Happy new year! I thought for the first Friday of the year I'd begin with something informal and quite entertaining.

A few years ago, on one episode of the famous British motoring show Top Gear, the three hosts set out to build a cheap train using cars. At some point, the ideas of the hosts were split and they decided to create 2 separate versions instead. I'll leave you to watch it on YouTube, because the BBC has actually posted the part of the show.

What I think is very interesting is that although the Top Gear hosts created trains that were very primary in nature and could not possibly ever see real service, some very real ideas were conveyed to those who paid attention. The 2 trains from the episode, the Caravan Train by May and Hammond, and the Sports Train TGV 12 by Clarkson, inexplicably modelled after two very predominant types of railroading in the world. The Caravan is analogous to North America's heavy haul adhesion limited railroads while the Sports Train European horsepower limited. And as for the big wing on Jeremey's Sports Train, it should've been on the back end of the Jag itself (if it actually generated any downforce to improve traction).

Simply put, in order to haul more, one needs more traction, more adhesion on the locomotive, and excessive horsepower is only counterproductive. However, this type of railroading generally isn't very fast. On the contrary, horsepower limited railroads go as fast as possible with the available amount of horsepower with some compromise in train length and train weight.

Anyway, enough writing for me on this. Enjoy the show!


M-NL said…
With some simple modifications - suspension and bigger wheels on the caravans and a windscreen on the TGV12 - both contraptions would have been a lot better. But then again: all vehicles made at the Top Gear Technology Center tend to have some interesting flaws in them, that make for great television.

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