I’ve been watching season 2 of the show Mighty Trains and so far it has been really enjoyable to watch.
The first episode featured Canada’s Rocky Mountaineer cruise train. Host Teddy Wilson traveled on two of the “Rocky” trains – from Vancouver to Banff and from Jasper to Vancouver. The show did a good job of featuring the on-board experience, the experience from the locomotive cab, and the preparation for the trip itself.
The photography (cinematography?) is excellent. They show the view from the cab, from the train, the railfan’s trackside view; but the best views are from helicopter! Seeing the Rocky go over the bridge at Cisco was pretty special.
I was worried it would be a little corny when viewed with a railfan’s eye, and there is a bit of that, but in general it is interesting even when you understand railways and their operation. There wasn’t a lot of made-up drama – the worst was a balky air-conditioning unit on one coach and having to sit in a siding for a couple of freight trains.
Episode 2 featured Ecuador’s Tren Crucero, luxury cruise trains in that tiny South American country. There are actually two trains – the “Train of Wonders” from Quito to Guayaquil, and the “Train to the Clouds” from Guayaquil to Ecuador’s capital Quito, high in the Andes Mountains.
Tren Crucero (meaning “Cruise Train”) is a narrow gauge train, revived in 2013 after heavy rains in 1982 and in the 1990s destroyed much of Ecuador’s rail network. The government invested the equivalent of $280 million to restore railway operations.
The train is hauled by a steam engine for a portion of the route, and by diesels for the mountainous portions. It has four coaches, carrying only 50 passengers, and provides a luxury cruise experience. Tickets cost a minimum of about USD $1,700 per person for a four day trip.
Here’s a promo video from Ecuador’s Ministry of Tourism. It’s in Spanish but you can turn auto translate on if you want English closed captions.
It was very interesting to learn about Ecuador’s rail system and this train in particular. I liked how they described the locomotive’s sanding system in detail, and how it provides “grip” for the train’s journey on steep grades.
The show spent a lot of time showing railway maintenance, from track inspection through brush control and rail maintenance. Apparently Ecuador has a lot of problems with people stealing the fishplates and other portions of the track infrastructure to sell for the metal. They are also replacing some wooden ties with concrete ones to better withstand the heat and humidity .
In the four upcoming episodes, Teddy will ride trains in New Zealand, India, Sweden and Spain.
Production is underway on a third season of Mighty Trains right now.
How to Watch
Episodes are broadcast Sundays at 7 PM Eastern time on the Discovery Canada channel on most cable networks.
You can also view the episodes on their web site.