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Train ferry (wikipedia.org)
73 points by keeganjw 11 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 54 comments

There's also the reverse, a boat train: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canal_inclined_plane. A very old inclined plane makes a nice day trip in Poland.

Also if you don't want to sail your boat across an ocean you can sail it into a big boat with a load of other boats and just collect it at the other side!


Get on the level of the ship shipping ships shipping shipping ships: https://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/23913/is-this-a...

Somebody needs to put one of those on a train ferry.

Right. Canals followed topographic contours, with just ~1% slope to prevent stagnation. When topography wasn't workable, you needed either locks, or inclined planes. And for more than a few meters discontinuity, they tended to use inclined planes.

In at least some cases, they were water-powered. The uphill canal extended on a flume (like an aqueduct) which ended at a powerhouse, which housed a turbine (sometimes vertical axis).

> Inclined plane 7 West on Morris Canal, showing flume, powerhouse, cabling, and track. Cradle can be seen at bottom in the canal. Note how return cable is on wooden stands with pulleys.


More about the inclined plane in Poland: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elbl%C4%85g_Canal (Polish version of this page has more pictures)

Also related, lift locks https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peterborough_Lift_Lock

The Peterborough lift lock tour is pretty awesome, if you're ever in the area. In addition to taking the lift itself, it also goes through the Trent-Severn lock (a smaller, hand-operated lock), and the maria st bridge (a movable bridge that swings sideways to let vessels pass)

And another form; the Swiss call some trains ferries.


This world is wonderful.

In case you couldn't tell by all the old-timey photos, train ferries are, if not outright obsolete, at least way past their prime.

NYC and NJ, for example, used to have hundreds of wharves all along the Hudson and East River for loading and offloading train ferries. They're almost all gone. What killed them? 18-wheel trucks with interchangeable trailers. It turns out it's much easier to handle last-mile distribution using trucks that use bridges and tunnels than to float train cars across rivers.

For some related history, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVx59XOZtSA

Hasn't the standardized shipping container (ie, one container size) over trains also killing the need for train ferries?

So migrating from one standard (tracks) to another (container) that encapsulates the previous one?

Not everything fits in the iso container format.

Even if it did, you still need to move rolling-stock from one rail system to another from time to time.

There's a rail ferry in my city [0], and a couple of link-spans to support rail ferries [1].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interislander [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linkspan

The article shows there are several between Scandinavia and continental Europe for freight use.

I'd guess they're good for carrying things like wood and ore.

Odd. Since the container is so easy to shift from a vehicle to another, compared to smaller units of transport like barrels or pallets, it should have made multimodal transport more profitable, not less.

I have been on a train ferry between Denmark and Germany during trip from Copenhagen to Hamburg. I hadn't looked up the route in advance and it blew my mind. The train just "drove" onto the boat. Then, we could get off and move around on the boat. You could go up on deck and there were a lot of shops.

Had this same experience many years ago traveling from Hamburg to Copenhagen. I had no idea there would be a boat involved in the trip. "Gee, this is a long stop... and where are we?" only to realize we the train was actually parked and still moving.

I had the same, travelling from Berlin to Copenhagen. It was a sleeper train and the loading onto the ferry happened overnight, so unfortunately I didn't see it happen. I could hear it happen—it was very surreal to hear train noises, then boat noises then train noise again.

Rostock, I assume on the German side. Took the ferry with my car, was curious about the tracks at the edge of harbour.

I think Puttgarden–Rødby is more likely. It used to be served by diesel ICE trains and it was really fun to ride onto a big old ferry on one of these unusually short ultra-sleek trains, get off the train, walk a lap around it, then go up to the open-air deck and stretch your legs a bit.

There’s still a direct Hamburg–Copenhagen connection via that ferry, but it’s now a normal Eurocity.

I took that diesel ICE in 2008. It blew my mind as well. Another thing I noticed about that train is that it seemed to have discrete gears. I don't know if that's true but my impression was that the train would accelerate and change gears just like in a car/truck (as opposed to a diesel-electric train where the diesel engine generates electricity for an electric motor that drives the wheels).

Diesel locomotives with mechanical transmissions are rare today, but they do exist. Hitachi still makes such transmissions.[1] Here's a train in the UK equipped that way.[2]

[1] http://www.hitachi-nico.jp/en/product/land/transmission/dies... [2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdFCQE61mSA

Is it not still a diesel ICE, at least sometimes?

I pass through Nørreport station fairly often, and I notice the train to Hamburg if it's passing through.

Yes. At least it was last summer.

Possibly it is only in the summer - I traveled from Hamburg to Copenhagen in November 2017 and there was actually a bus segment from Hamburg to Puttgarden. Then we got on a train which was driven at most 0.25 km onto the ferry.

I tied to book a 100% train/ferry route and it wasn’t available for my travel dates.

Currently (and going back a year or two) there are recurring closures on the danish side in order to upgrade the track to 200 kph. This is a part of the Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link[1] project. I believe it will be replaced by bus for a couple of months again this spring.

Haven’t seen much about related works on the german side but apparently they occur.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fehmarn_Belt_Fixed_Link

I'm about 20 years too late, but me and my boys still think it's flipping cool to drive our car onto a train that goes under the sea to France. Love it.

The Picton ferry between the North and South islands of New Zealand does this too.


Trivia: for some reason it is a tradition, when taking the trail ferry between Sicily and Calabria (the one that basically binds the Sicilian island with the remaining of Italy), to eat arancini (stuffed rice balls https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arancini) at the bar inside the boat.

There are some great pictures here of the train ferry dock in Dover (UK)


They don't list the SS Badger which run from Ludington, Michigan to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and handles both rail cars and automobiles. I've taken it dozens of times and you can't claim to be a Michigander if you haven't ridden it.


Port Costa, CA used to have a train ferry in the gold rush era. If you ever have a chance to visit it's a cool little town. Hidden just south of Martinez in the Bay Area.


And Continental Brazil still doesn't have even one damn thing you can call a passenger's train. It's a Shame. I think the Chinese Railway System will reach Brazil before Brazil even puts one single real passenger's train up...And brazil is almost the size of China...It's unbelievable, and so sad for a brazilian who likes trains. I have spent 2000 hours inside Trains restaurant wagons and smoking area's "wagon-gaps" in China alone, not counting in Europe, and It's so sad to see the state of the passenger's trains in Brazil, It almost makes me cry...

:some edited mispelling, some kept.

can't help with not going a bit on this rant, because it really hurts, so Brazil, please just do like the smart African countries do, let the Chinese bring thousands of workers and then they will go back to spend the Chinese New Year with their families and let a railroad built there, that will work for longer than the lifetime of these workers, and they probably will live longer than what you expect. Come on, there is no point in protecting your workforce if you let your workforce collecting empty cans all day for a dollar to buy the bread of today Anyway!!! You are not protecting anything or any workers, much the contrary, and you still don't get a single working train...It's like Einstein said, there are no limits for Stupidity, indeed...

San Francisco’s Pier 43 Ferry Arch is a prime example. Prior to the Golden Gate Bridge and the post-war boom, it quite literally fed the city and surrounding area. The Embarcadero “E” line runs on the old Belt Railroad that connected to Pier 43.



Had to see this in action:

The New York Jersey Rail Car Float Operation from NYC to NJ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWTXrpgYO4Y

This is another duplicate from a few weeks ago. I believe many of the commentators talked about how it was nice to see them still in use in parts of Europe and Australia.

A customer of ours pulls trains on barges from Seattle to Alaska. As well as trucks, mining equipment, school busses, fishing boats, etc. It is pretty cool to see the barges stacked tall, and imagine them pulled 1,500 miles to Alaska. The trains drive onto the barge via tracks and are stored underneath the other cargo.

Pictures: https://www.alaskarails.org/industries/seattle-dock.html

I've ridden the train ferry between Sicily and mainland Italy.

There’s also one in Eastern Turkey on the Van Lake [1], it’s on my to-visit-as-soon-as-possible list

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Van_Ferry

Me too. Rode the train all down the coast from Naples to Taormina in Sicily on the Inter-city. Such an amazing line. Took about 8 hours but totally worth it.

I see you also listen to No Such Thing as a Fish.

Anyone who enjoys finding out about this kind of obscure technology, or interesting facts of any kind should give it a listen.

It’s up there with 99 Percent Invisible (but far less focused and deep exploration) in terms of interesting, otherwise unlikely-to-discover-organically facts.

This was just mentioned in a popular podcast released today called No Such Thing as a Fish. Coincidence?


Any chance these will be worth it when NYC is forced to close the Hudson River tunnels?

Very doubtful. The NYNJ system is not very high capacity, doesn't have an easy connection to passenger lines in New Jersey, the connecting lines aren't electrified, and would leave passengers in the far south end of Brooklyn.

It's time to expand this chart to include trains. https://xkcd.com/2043/

Maybe add these entries? Train holds car: auto train -> cartrain. Train holds house: sleeper car -> housetrain. Train holds boat: boat carriage -> boattrain. Car holds train: heavy train trailer -> traincar. House holds train: engine shed -> trainhouse. Boat holds train: train ferry -> trainboat. Train holds train: transporter wagon -> traintrain.

traincar is already taken.

It'll be interesting to see if the Cuba - US train ferries will be resumed when the "Ongoing embargo" against Cuba is lifted.

The Germany/Denmark one goes past a huge dong/ørsted energy windfarm. Two experiences for the price of one!

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