Extreme Trains on The History Channel

“All aboard.” screams the conductor Matt Bown as you board the new “man reality show” on the History Channel called Extreme Trains.  This eight-part series takes the viewers on a click and clack adventure down the rails and behind the scenes of the railroad industry.UP Double Stacked Container Train

Some of the treats the viewers get to see are the famous Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus train, Union Pacific’s refrigeration train, Amtrak Acela (fastest? train in the US), coal train, and the 48-hour freight train express from LA to Dallas along with everything that supports keeping our trains moving 24/7 365 days year.

Our conductor for this “extreme train” experience is Matt Bown, an engineer on the Pam Am Railways (former Maine Central) for the last 10 years.  He provides the audience enthusiasm for all things trains without talking over head on the technical side of the industry.

I had the pleasure of watching the first episode last night (it aired two weeks ago, thank goodness for the power of the DVR) with my son – Freight Train.  It had everything a father and son could ask for – trains, trains, heavy equipment, dirt/grim, and more trains!

This pilot episode takes place onboard the Union Pacific dedicated, double stack container unit train from the port of Los Angeles to Dallas/Fort Worth, TX.  This train is more than 4,000 feet long (3/4 of mile long) packed with consumer goods – LCD/Plasma TV, Computers, iPod, etc.  What is more remarkable about this train is that it covers 1609 miles in an amazing 48 hours!!!!  Yes, 48 hours!!!  This diesel superman-powered train tops speeds of 70 mph throughout most of its trip.

Three locomotives pump out more than 4,000 horse power.  Not sure how much power that is?  It would take 40 Suburban SUVs to pull this monster of a train.  The train takes on 3,000 gallons of fuel once through out this trip in New Mexico.  I am glad I don’t have to pay that fuel bill at the pump!

Throughout the trip the viewers get to see the locomotive shops in Barstow, CA, the 10-mile underground trench that the trains motor through from the port of LA to the eastern end of the city, the Cajon Pass in the San Gabriel Mountains, and the always unpredictable Mojave Desert. 

What a show!  I was a bit skeptical about Extreme Trains since I was not impressed about the History Channel’s previous “man show” production – The Ax Men.  My skepticism has now been put to rest quite quickly.  This show might not have the danger and tension that the Deadliest Catch or Ice Truckers, but Extreme Trains does have the rest of the intangaibles that make ups up a good “man show” – men and their machine at work at their extremes.  Think Extreme Trains as Dirty Jobs with locomotives.   This show is must see TV!  See at the next station – “all aboard!!!!”

Extreme Trains is on Tuesdays at 10 pm on the History Channel.

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5 responses to “Extreme Trains on The History Channel

  1. It is a good show. Bown gets a little hyper at times, but at least he is enthusiatic about what he is doing. There are a couple of things I find annoying. They are always speeding the trains up with the ‘fast-forward’ technique. Also, they tend to use a lot of poetic license. When they were changing out the turbo in a Santa Fe unit at Barstow, it all of a sudden became the lead on the stack train Bown was riding to Texas; different paint scheme, different unit numbers, different locomotiv class. But if you like trains, like I do, then overall it is a fun show.

  2. Pofcapt,

    I notice those details too…I guess you can’t stop a train of this importance to check out the shop in Barstow or the MOA crew at Cajon Pass without some creative editing.

    I also grew up loving trains thanks to my dearly departed father and my weekend trips to my great grandparents house which was conveniently across the street from the a NW yard. So it was extremely enlightening to discovery a TV series was willing to take the viewer on a magical trip behind the scenes on an industry that most American take for granted.

    I hope we see more specials on trains. I think The History Channel and/or Discovery may have found a gem right under their nose…as long as the Class 1 RR participate.

    Thanks reading my blog. I hope you continue to enjoy the show.

  3. OK, I’ve seen a couple of episodes now and I don’t like it. Way too “dramatic”…

  4. antietam1958

    I wish he would tell how much fuel and the cost of the fule that it took to run the train from washington to new york vice the number of trucks, gallons of fuel, cost of the fuel and them time it took the truck to carry the same amount of arge across the same route.

  5. antietam1958

    The show is outstanding in my book. I enjoyed it very much. He does get a little hyper at time, but he seems to enjoy what he does.

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