Since the early 1990s, Norfolk Southern (formerly Norfolk and Western) streamlined 4-8-4 steam locomotive has been dormant, with no plans for its revival, and placed in a museum.
In 2015, enough interest pushed finances to move forward to bring the beautiful locomotive back to life, and have the first test runs in the spring, then with full excursions from May through the summer.
The most famous and active narrow gauge steam train system in the world, is the beautiful Harz mountains system in Germany, the Harz Railway (Harz schmalspurbahnen).
The trains carry the most number of tourists from around the world and also serves as a community system linking various mountain communities. It was built before the splitting of Germany into two, and today, serves as a most scenic and interesting system for locals and for tourists.
Although technical industrial know-how is often named and known by rail enthusiasts the world over, such as the invention of the steam locomotive, and speed record marvels, which are wonderful, of course–little known is the fact of the Swansea-Mumbles Railway line, the world’s first passenger rail service.
On March 25, 1807–the same day that the British Parliament passed the law outlawing the Transatlantic Slave Trade, Swansea opened the first passenger train in the world, charging a fee for passengers to be pulled on a rail line. At this time, the passenger carriages were pulled by horses. Then more carriages were added for form a multi-carriage horse-drawn rail train along the beautiful Wales coast line between Swansea and the charming town of Mumbles.
The line was closed and was derelict for a while, and various wealthy proprietors refurbished and re-established the line.
In 1877, steam locomotives were introduced to the line and pulled the train from that year to 1929, when trams took over. Steam locomotives of the wheel arrangement 0-4-0 and 0-6-0 steam locomotives, of various “tank” types, were used the pull the trains in the heyday of steam. The line began electrifying its motive power in 1928.
In 1960, after closing a couple of more times, the line was closed officially by the government, even though there were an overwhelming amount of signatures protesting the closure. The new owners at the time wanted to make busses the main way of travel, regardless of what the majority of local people wanted.
After the Earthquake and Tsunami that hit Northeastern Japan, and while the entire nation struggles to change its mood and to struggle to continue and recover, many programs were started to bring Japan, as a nation, to a more positive mood. One such way of doing this was to inaugurate the return of the famous Japanese express steam locomotive from the postwar era–the C61. In February 2011, it was brought out from its short amusement park and museum locale, to begin test runs. From March through June, the C61 began its special excursion runs to motivate Japan. The C61, was one of the express passenger locomotives, to be built during the US Occupation of Japan, when new steam locomotives were NOT ALLOWED to be built in Japan, per Occupation orders. So Japanese officials built the C61 and C62 from the bodies and parts of older freight locomotives D51 and “Pacific type” passenger locomotive C57, with some modifications to fit the speed and smoothness, as well as power necessary for pulling passenger locomotives, resulting in the Hudson type C61.
In 1935, the London and Northeastern Railway of the UK, had Nigel Gresley design streamlined locomotives. They were fast and recognizable. The “Mallard” 4468 still holds the world’s speed record for fastest steam in the world.
Of over 30 built in those days, 6 remain today, three of which are fully operational.
60007 Sir Nigel Gresley
60009 Union of South Africa
The famous 60022 Mallard is on static display in Shildon.
The 60010 Dominion of Canada is on static display in the Canadian Railway Museum in Canada.
The 60008 Dwight D. Eisenhower is on display in Wisconsin, USA.