Trains carry passengers and freight all over the world. They have evolved from crude steam powered engines to sleek diesel and electric locomotives.
The early production of trains began in the 1800s. In 1805, British engineer Richard Trevithick made a high pressure steam engine on wheels. Twenty years later, in 1825, George Stephenson, another British engineer, fixed the problems presented by Trevithick's steam engine.
By the 1900s, the production of trains was full-steam ahead. The first train that ran on diesel appeared in 1912. At that time, trains were the most efficient mode of transportation, largely because there were few roads and not many vehicles to drive at this time. It was also more safe to ride on trains than in cars during this period.
In the late 1900s, people stopped using trains so frequently. Instead, they traveled by road and airline, both of which were increasingly convenient. The trains and rail lines were expensive to keep up and, in the 1970s, many U.S. railroad companies declared bankruptcy.
Today, to attract passengers, engineers are finding ways to increase the speed of trains. Specifically, some designers are trying to get rid of steel rails by experimenting with magnets and other kinds of technology. They are also trying to get rid of the noise from the wheels on the tracks. Only time will tell if these efforts will increase train ridership in the U.S. and ultimately save trains.
The Kingfisher Children's Encyclopedia