How Much Do You Know About Trains?


By: Gavin Thagard

5 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

It's early in the morning and time to get to work, so you hop on a train and take it into town. How much do you know about that train you just rode? How much do you know about trains in general? Could you pass a quiz on trains? Take this quiz and find out! 

Trains, in some form, have been around for hundreds of years, though the first steam-powered engines were not introduced until the 19th century. Since then, trains have been transporting people all around the world. Even with the rise of the automobile, trains have not died out. In many ways, they've become more advanced and widely used, particularly in cities where roadways are often jammed full with traffic. After all, who wants to take the chance of being stuck in traffic for hours when a train runs according to a daily schedule? I'm sure you don't.

Do you actually know anything about these powerful machines of transportation? Do you know how they operate or their history? If you think you do, then here's a quiz where you can test your knowledge.

You'd better be up for the challenge before you start this quiz, however, but if you think you have enough knowledge about trains, then it's time to get started! 

Which is NOT a power source for trains?

The earliest trains were powered by steam. Later, steam engines were replaced by diesel and electric engines.


What do locomotives run on?

Tracks allow trains to travel faster than if the train ran on the road. This was even true for carriages before trains were invented.


Who invented the steam engine?

Thomas Newcomen's engines were originally built for removing water from coal mines. Inventors would later improve his design for the railroad.


When was the first working steam locomotive built?

Trains have been around since ancient times. Early examples used tracks carved into the ground so they could be pulled by animals without going off track.


Who invented the first steam locomotive?

Steam engines are powered by heated water that produces stream. The water is heated by burning coal or wood.


What is the undercarriage that connects the wheels on a train called?

Toy trains have become huge collectibles. One of the largest toy manufacturers is Lionel, a private company founded in New York.


Which train was the first commercially successful steam-powered​ locomotive?

This train was named after the Battle of Salamanca. In the battle, the combined forces of England, Spain and Portugal defeated the French Empire.


Which type of railroad track turns rotational motion into linear motion?

In a rack railway, pinions rotate along racks with grooves in each. Each time the pinion catches a new groove in the rack, the train moves forward.


Who presented the first electric railway in 1879 in Germany?

Siemens' locomotive looked like a child's toy when it was presented in 1879. The operator sat at the front while the locomotive carried three carriages behind it.


Which was the first Class I railway to add electricity to its line?

Amtrak is one of the few locomotives to still use electricity today. This is mainly due to cost and efficiency.


This type of railroad car is enclosed with sliding doors.

In Sweden, ore trains traveling down from the mountains produce more electricity than they use. This electricity then powers nearby towns.


This type of railroad car is used for transporting bulk material.

Dogs in Moscow will board trains and take them into the city to search for food. Then, they take the trains back to wherever​ they are from.


This railroad car is used to haul material that won't fit inside an enclosed car.

During the Civil War, Northern troops destroyed train tracks across the South. This kept Southern armies from resupplying their soldiers and was a major reason for their defeat.


Who started the term "horsepower"?

The term "horsepower" was used as a marketing tool by James Wyatt. It was supposed to describe how many horses the engine could replace.


Where does the driver of the train sit?

A train conductor has many responsibilities other than operating the train. In fact, they are in charge of overseeing just about every aspect of the train from passenger safety to crew responsibilities​.


Who invented the first sleeper car in America?

Pullman developed this idea after a horrible trip on a train where he was bunched together with passengers. His trains became popular after they were used for transporting Abraham Lincoln's body after he was assassinated.


Which train runs from London to Paris?

The Eurostar stretches across much of Europe. The channel tunnel opened in 1994, as part of the Eurostar network.


Trains do NOT do what?

Some of the earliest trains traveled less than 10 mph. Today, trains are much, much faster than that.


What is the fastest modern trains can go?

The Japanese bullet trains are some of the fastest trains in the world. They have reached over 300 mph.


Where was the first underground railway built?

Opened in 1863, the Metropolitan Railway was the first underground railway in the world. Using gas-lit carriages, it ran until 1933.


Which type of train transports goods?

Freight trains are one of the most common ways of transporting good. They are extremely efficient because of the amount of material they can carry, but there are limitations because trains can only travel along their tracks.


Which type of train runs through public streets carrying passengers?

Because they move through public streets, trams are much slower than regular trains. People often board and exit these trains every few blocks.


Which type of trains are meant for touring the country?

Over the years, luxury trains have become very popular tourist attractions. They allow passengers to see the environment while touring the country.


Which type of train brings suburban residents into the city?

As cities overflowed with residents, people looked to move outside the city. Luckily, trains developed around this time, which allowed quicker access to the city from suburbs that began to pop up outside of cities.


Which type of train uses magnets to run the train?

Magnetic trains use magnets to levitate off the ground, which cuts out friction with the track. Once the friction is gone, another magnet pushes the train down the track.


Which type of train is attached to a single rail?

Monorails are typically elevated tracks in the city. This allows them to operate overhead instead of taking up road space.


When were bullet trains introduced in Japan?

The first bullet train opened in Japan in October, 1964. This was right before the Olympics, which took place in Tokyo that same year.


Where is the longest direct rail route in the world?

This route runs from Moscow to Pyongyang. The entire distance is 10,267 km.


The longest train journey in the world goes from Portugal to where?

The journey from Portugal to Vietnam take around 12 days. It takes you through Northern Europe into Russia and down through China.


Where is the real Hogwarts Express Train located?

The Hogwarts Express Train runs 84 miles throughout Scotland. The real name of this steam train is the Jacobite.


Where does the guard on a train sit?

A guard was much more important in the early days of trains. This was because train robbers were common, particularly in the American West.


What is the name of the cord a passenger can pull to stop a train?

Many trains allow the driver to override a stoppage that they don't believe is necessary. Of course, for people who falsely pull the communication cord, fines and punishments have been put in place.


What is the narrow passage used to move about a train called?

Thomas the Tank Engine is a famous fictional train. He was part of a book collection called The Railway Series, which later became a television show.


What is a couchette?

Many passenger trains have seats that can be converted into beds. This provides tourists with the ability to tour the country without booking hotels.


What is inside the train's tender?

Railroad photography has become very popular over the years. However, most people don't know that they are trespassing when they get on the tracks.


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