How Are Trains Made?

Written by on July 4, 2013 in Technology - No comments | Print this page


Most of us take them for granted, but trains are one of the most popular forms of public transport in the world today. As technology has evolved and advanced over time, so trains have become more sophisticated and capable of greater speeds. For an insight into how these marvels are constructed, read on.


The history of trains

Trains have been around for over 200 years, and during this time have hugely shaped human travel behaviour and changes in industry. The first trains originally came from mining carts that were used on wooden or lead rails.

When the cart went down a hill, horses would pull it back to the mine. Eventually the carts were used with steam engines to pull them back up the hill. Steam engines became more powerful over time, and more commonplace.

The very first train pulled 25 tonnes of iron material and 70 people over a journey of 10 miles.

During the early 1900s, the steam train was replaced by more efficient diesel and electric locomotives. They were made from steel and could go more than 100mph.

By the 1970s most countries used trains operated by diesel, although steam trains are still in use in some local areas, and there has been a resurgence of steam trains on heritage and tourist routes.

Today, trains are ultra sleek, highly efficient and are used in a number of ways, from carrying passengers to carrying freight. High-speed trains can travel at well over 200km/h, with super fast bullet trains topping speeds of over 500km/h.

How are trains made?

Although trains are very eco-friendly, they are expensive to produce and maintain. The way trains are made varies according to the type of train and its use. For example, a high speed train carrying passengers will be made and designed differently than one that is used for carrying freight.

What is common to both, however, is precision and the use of sophisticated machinery and equipment to ensure the train can withstand high speeds and long journeys, and will last a long time. Safety is an important feature in the manufacture of trains, with rigorous testing and design to ensure the vehicles are as robust and safe as possible.

After design engineers have made their drawings using computer-aided equipment, engineers assemble the different train parts together, in much the same way that a car would be put together bit by bit.

The sides of the train are made of steel and need to be welded together using specialised welding equipment. Steel is used because it is very tough and durable. Trains also have steel wheels, frames and couplers. Wood is also used for constructing parts of the train.

The sides of the train are sprayed and painted different colours according to the design specifications. Special equipment is used to cut gaps in the metal to create windows for the train.

Strong adhesive is glued along the edges of the window area, so that the glass frames can be firmly stuck in place. The doors are attached to the sides of the train at intervals, using sophisticated mechanisms.

The front of the train needs to be fitted with headlights, which are carefully mounted. The driver’s controls, buttons, levers and dials are all secured in the front cab. Electrical systems are put in place that can operate many functions of the train.

A huge hoist lifts the train frame up until it rests above the wheels below, before being lowered onto the wheels where they are secured in place. The hoist is then removed.

The inside furniture is the last section of the train’s construction, with the buttons to open and close the doors fitted, and the tables and seats securely attached.

When a train has been made, it needs to be lifted onto the tracks by a special crane.

Trains of the future

Trains of the future could be increasingly supported by electro-magnets, which hover off the ground. This construction is already in use in some countries, and is set to grow further.

Currently, these trains can go more than 500km/h, but engineers think that in time they may reach speeds of over 1000km/h, and even have the ability to launch space shuttles!

Featured images:

Amy E has a keen interest in how motor vehicals are made and used, she often researches and writes about trains. When Amy isn’t writing about motor vehicals she works for Westermans; providers of high quality welding equipment.

Photographer: Cas


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