Traveling by train definitely has its advantages: trains travel faster and don’t have to worry about traffic, they are also more efficient than cars, and they are more cost-effective than taking a trip with an airplane. Many people also perceive train travel to be relatively safe. However, there are certain railways that never fail to evoke fear in their commuters’ hearts. These railways are notorious for being extremely dangerous to ride for a number of different reasons: they are the highest, most unstable, and most weather-beaten railways. Ever. These railways are the ultimate in risky travel.
The Pamban Bridge – This bridge; built in 1914, connects the town of Rameswaram (on Pambam Island) to Chennai, in India. For many years, it was India’s longest sea bridge; spanning a length of 1.25 miles. What makes it so dangerous? It crosses one of the most corrosive areas of the planet: an area that is often visited by cyclones and high winds; necessitating constant bridge maintenance. In 1964, a huge storm struck Pambam Island, overturning the train that was crossing the bridge at the time and killing almost all of the 200 passengers on board. Today, you can still see the battered rails and debris of that tragedy strewn along the area.
Tren a las Nubes – With a name that literally translates to “Train to the Clouds” in English; this Argentinean railway crosses no fewer than 29 bridges and 13 viaducts on the way to the Chilean border. The dangerous part of this railway is a viaduct; called La Polvorilla, which stands 207 feet above the ground and curves around 735 feet in length. Aside from the thin air and high altitude, some of the sections of the viaduct are truly vertigo-and-acrophobia-inducing to say the least.
The Napier-Gisborne Railway – This railway is normal-looking for the most part: that is, until you reach Gisborne Airport, which is where this railway intersects with the airport’s main tarmac strip. This can be dangerous if both the airport and the railway were unsupervised. Fortunately, both are under constant supervision to prevent nasty collisions. Still pretty nerve-wracking when both the plane and the train have to carefully manage a single strip of land.
The Qinghai-Tibet Railway – Known as the highest railway in the world, it connects Xining, in Qinghai, to Lhasa, in Tibet. It is notoriously known for the Tanggula Pass which is a section of rail that reaches up 16,640 feet above sea level. Because of its sheer height; it is the highest point on Earth where a train can travel. Also because of its sheer height; passengers are required to use a personal Oxygen supply if they want to keep themselves breathing. There are even special oxygen masks and a supply of oxygen in each sleeping berth; as well as a doctor for each train.
Are you scared yet? There are still a few other dangerous railways out there. But with proper maintenance and repair; these railways can become much safer: at least; safe enough to ride.
Of course, when it comes to railway maintenance, Sharp and Fellows have you covered. We are a full-service railroad contractor, and we specialize in Track Construction, Track Maintenance, Track Inspection, Crane Rail Maintenance, Track Design, and Track Removal (Demolition). We also stock rail sections and Other Track Materials (OTM) as well. Call us up at 310-323-7784, send us a fax at 310-327-1664, or contact us online for all of your questions and for more information about our services.