The strange & now sadly abandoned Soviet Jet Train from the 1970s


A jet-powered train may seem to make sense in Russia – anything to speed up the dull commute from Omsk to Tomsk – but sudden stops to check papers were impractical to say the least. The concept was tried at least once, however, in 1970.

The first experiments to create a high-speed models of locomotives in the Soviet Union began in the 1930s. In 1934, at the Kolomna plant carried out preliminary designs of high-speed trains.The Russians want to copy the USA’s first Jet Train..

A turbojet train is a train powered by turbojet engines. Like a jet aircraft, but unlike a gas turbine locomotive, the train is propelled by the jet thrust of the engines, rather than by its wheels. Only a handful of jet-powered trains have been built, for experimental research in high-speed rail. Turbojet engines have been built with the engine incorporated into a railcar combining both propulsion and passenger accommodation rather than as separate locomotives hauling passenger coaches.

Turbojet engines are most efficient at high speeds and so they have been applied to high-speed passenger services, rather than freight.

Some time ago we had a few photos of a piece of technology called “Soviet Turbojet Train”.   The projected speed for this out-of-the-sixties monster was planned to be up to 360 km/h, and it set a record of 250 km/h on the Soviet standard railway. The project was discarded afterwards, partly due to the very high fuel consumption of the jet engines compared to the engines of jet planes, and we thought the only train built was lost, but recently these guys discovered it rusting on the back ways of some railroad.

The first attempt to use turbojet engines on a railroad was made by the New York Central Railroad in 1966. Their railcar M-497 was able to reach speeds up to 184 miles per hour (296 km/h) – we will cover that next week. Check out the video at the bottom of the page

The Russian train maker Kalininsky formed the Speed Wagon Laboratory. Following the New Yorker’s example, the modified the chassis of one of their ER22 head engines to look more or less like a rough version of a Shinkansen, the Japanese bullet train which was already working in 1964 at 130 mph (210km/h).

They added two turbojet engines on the front as well: two turbojets from a Yakovlev YAK-40. Their first test was in 1971 on the line joining Golutvin with Ozery. They achieved a low 116mph (187km/h). However, they kept increasing the speed until they got up to 154mph (249km/h).

Like it’s American counterpart it never really went any further than that. Jet fuel costs, noise levels, and probably just the fact that this is plane old silly contributed to the closing of the programs in both countries..

It’s a real shame that when projects like this end there is no budget for storing them for later viewing. So lets have a look at this lonely and abandoned Jet Train….










Image credit@ techmonuments