Obscure technologies, part 4

I just found this Wired story about a futuristic train, made out of aluminum and driven by a airplane style propeller at the rear. The Schienenzeppelin was actually a railcar rather than a train (i.e. it was a single unit, not a set of cars propelled by a locomotive), and made it’s first test run in 1930. In 1931 it set a railway speed record of 230.2 km/hr. That record was not beaten until 1954 and, according to Wikipedia, still has not been beaten by any gasoline-powered rail vehicle.

There were a number of issues with the Schienenzepplin that stopped it from ever going into production, one of the most important of which was the safety of an open propeller at passenger stations. The one prototype was scrapped just before World War II.

Incidently, the Schienenzeppelin was not the first attempt to use aircraft propulsion on a rail vehicle: the Soviet Aerowagon was built as early as 1921, but it crashed on it’s second trip, killing all aboard.

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