10 November 2007
The age of railway flatness
Brian Micklethwait

At my personal blog, I have a clutch of British railway viaduct photos, many with trains that you can just about spot!


The usual commentary about such viaducts is all about how much better they were at doing viaducts then, not like it is now, blah blah.  But engineers now do good stuff too, I think.  Better, arguably.  Just not for railways.

I mean, you might just as well say that they were very bad at making vehicles go up steeper gradients in those days.  The only reason they had to build all these viaducts is because railways had to be so very flat.  And that’s now changed, hasn’t it?


  1. There used to be a viaduct across the Solway, you know.  They took it down because the old Sunday drinking laws led lots of Scots to potter over to Cumberland for refreshment, but fail to potter the whole way back.

    Posted by dearieme on  11 November 2007 at 10:58 pm

  2. Those stone viaducts are impressive, but that does not take away from what contemporary engineers are doing.  Imagine 125 car stack trains meeting each other at 70 mph (115 km/h) 189 feet above the Des Moines River.  (It’s on the Union Pacific’s ex-Chicago and North Western Central Corridor, and therefore unlikely ever to see a passenger train.)

    Posted by Stephen Karlson on  14 November 2007 at 12:40 am

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