Mission Impossible (1996)
Although the climactic scene, which took six weeks to film, purportedly takes place in France, the scene was actually filmed in Scotland. Critics have also pointed out a train-related plot hole; although the TGV runs on overhead power lines, these are nowhere to be seen in the film.
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
The scene required over 100 visual effects and in a similar way to Mission Impossible, it was filmed in an alternate location; although the train is apparently travelling through New York City, it was actually filmed in Chicago, before being superimposed against the New York skyline. Although the train appears to be one of the New York R-train cars, it’s actually one of the 2200 series Chicago ‘L’ trains, which had been modified to seem legitimate.
Stand By Me (1986)
The scene was shot on the McCloud River Railroad and the train that can be seen speeding towards them is the McCloud Railway No. 25 is a 2-6-2 ‘Prairie’ type locomotive.
Back to the Future Part III (1990)
The train used for the film was the Sierra No. 3, but the numbering on the front of the train was changed to ‘131’ for the film. Built in 1891, the Sierra No. 3 has been dubbed ‘The Movie Star Locomotive’ due to its numerous appearances on the silver screen over the years.
William L. Withhuhn, former Transportation History curator at the Smithsonian Institution, described the locomotive's historical and cultural significance: ‘Sierra Railway No. 3 has appeared in more motion pictures, documentaries, and television productions than any other locomotive. It is undisputedly the image of the archetypal steam locomotive that propelled the USA from the 19th century into the 20th.’
The interest in steam trains and the efforts to preserve them continues to this day, so you don’t have to build your own DeLorean to experience a steam train tour.
Stuntman Gary Powell, who worked with several stunt experts on the scene, said ‘Everything you see with the train is real.’ The scene takes place in Turkey, on the northern line tube train, and two full size train carriages had to be built for the sequence in the tunnel, each weighing seven tons.
The stunt was considered too dangerous to be filmed by cameramen and so remotely operated cameras were set up to capture the scene from all angles.
I think you’ll agree that the above aren’t scenes that you’re likely to see anywhere else but on the big screen, but that’s part of what makes them some of the most epic train scenes of all time. Which one is your favourite?
(Photo by Flickr-User: 8929612@N04)