Thinking about a train ride may conjure up images of anything from a Wild West locomotive to an ultra-modern bullet train. These whimsical images don’t tell the whole story, however. There are some train routes in use today that offer many more thrills than frills. Here are some terrifying facts about the scariest train rides in the world.
1. Pilatus Railway, Switzerland
Switzerland isn’t all quiet alpine villages with quaint chalets and excellent chocolate. It’s also home to the steepest cogwheel railroad route in the world. The Pilatus Railway takes tourists from Alpnachstad to Pilatus Kulm. The track includes a harrowing 48% maximum gradient and utilizes original rack rails that are now over a century old.
2. Yukon Route and White Pass, Alaska/Canada
This 914-millimeter narrow gauge railway connects Whitehorse, Yukon with Skagway, Alaska in an isolated section of wilderness. Although there are no direct connections with any other rail lines, this American-Canadian railway is an essential means of transportation for both passengers and freight.
3. Maeklong Railway Market, Thailand
4. Ferrocarril Central Andino, Peru
This hair-raising route that crosses the Andes to link Lima with Huancayo is the second highest railway in the world and an engineering marvel. Although the route primarily serves to move freight, there are several tourist trips scheduled throughout the year.
5. Gelmer Funicular, Switzerland
Switzerland makes the list again with the Gelmerbahn located in Bern. This inclined railway uses cables to move the passenger cars up and down the slope between the lower point of Handegg and Gelmersee Lake at the top. The weight of the cars on each side of the line creates a balance of momentum even over the maximum incline of 106%.
6. Tren a Las Nubes, Argentina
7. Pamban Bridge, India
Not all of the world’s scariest railway routes are confined to land. The railroad bridge between the Indian mainland and Rameshwaram island requires intense upkeep and maintenance due to the extremely corrosive environment that combines sea water with high winds.
8. Katoomba Scenic World Railway
With its distinction as the steepest funicular railway in the world, this attraction at Scenic World in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia is extremely popular with tourists. The route features a maximum slope of 52 degrees and 1,020 feet of total incline distance. Its history dates back to the 1880s when it was used to move materials for the local oil shale and coal mines.
Would you consider taking one of these terrifying train routes? What’s the scariest train ride you’ve ever been on?