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Heritage railway facts for kids

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A scene on a heritage railway. An ex-British Railways 4MT 2-6-4T tank engine takes on water at Bishops Lydeard station on the West Somerset Railway, Somerset, England.
Tren a las nubes cruzando Viaducto la Polvorilla
Tren a las Nubes, Argentina.

A heritage railway (United Kingdom), preserved railway (United Kingdom), or tourist railroad (United States and Canada) is a term used for a railway which is run as a tourist attraction, is usually but not always run by volunteers, and seeks to re-create railway scenes of the past.


Children's railways

Token-passing at a children's railway in Zaporizhia, Ukraine
Sarganska osmica 2
Steam train on Šargan Eight
Kongensgruve 0606
Entrance of King’s Mine in Kongsberg, Norway
Estação do metrô - linha 1 (1503636004)
Preserved station on Line 1 of the Budapest Metro
Rothley signal box on the Great Central Railway heritage railway Leicestershire
Signal box on the Great Central Railway in Leicestershire, England

Children's railways are extracurricular educational institutions where children and teenagers learn about railway work; they are often functional, passenger-carrying narrow-gauge rail lines. The railways developed in the USSR during the Soviet era. Many were called "Pioneer railways", after the youth organisation of that name. The first children's railway opened in Moscow in 1932 and, at the breakup of the USSR, 52 children's railways existed in the country. Although the fall of communist governments has led to the closure of some, preserved children's railways are still functioning in post-Soviet states and Eastern European countries.

Many children's railways were built on parkland in urban areas. Unlike many industrial areas typically served by a narrow-gauge railway, parks were free of redevelopment. Child volunteers and socialist fiscal policy enabled the existence of many of these railways. Children's railways which still carry traffic have often retained their original infrastructure and rolling stock, including vintage steam locomotives; some have acquired heritage vehicles from other railways.

Examples of children's railways with steam locomotives include the Dresden Park Railway in Germany; the Gyermekvasút in Budapest; the Park Railway Maltanka in Poznań; the Košice Children's Railway in Slovakia, and the 7 14 in (184 mm) gauge steam railway on the grounds of St Nicholas' School in Merstham, Surrey, which the children help operate with assistance from the East Surrey 16mm Group and other volunteers.

Mountain railways

Creating passages for trains up steep hills and through mountain regions offers many obstacles which call for technical solutions. Steep grade railway technologies and extensive tunneling may be employed. The use of narrow gauge allows tighter curves in the track, and offers a smaller structure gauge and tunnel size. At high altitudes, construction and logistical difficulties, limited urban development and demand for transport and special rolling-stock requirements have left many mountain railways unmodernized. The engineering feats of past railway builders and views of pristine mountain scenes have made many railways in mountainous areas profitable tourist attractions.

Pit railways

Pit railways have been in operation in underground mines all over the world. Small rail vehicles transport ore, waste rock, and workers through narrow tunnels. Sometimes trains were the sole mode of transport in the passages between the work sites and the mine entrance. The railway's loading gauge often dictated the cross-section of passages to be dug. At many mining sites, pit railways have been abandoned due to mine closure or adoption of new transportation equipment. Some show mines have a vintage pit railway and offer mantrip rides into the mine.

Underground railways

The Metro 1 (officially the Millennium Underground Railway or M1), built from 1894 to 1896, is the oldest line of the Budapest Metro system and the second-oldest underground railway in the world. The M1 underwent major reconstruction during the 1980s and 1990s, and Line 1 now serves eight original stations whose original appearance has been preserved. In 2002, the line was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the Deák Ferenc Square concourse's Millennium Underground Museum, many other artifacts of the metro's early history may be seen.

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