A heritage railway or heritage railroad (US usage) is a railway operated as
Living history is an activity that incorporates historical tools, activities and dress into an interactive presentation that seeks to give observers and participants a sense of stepping back in time. Although it does not necessarily seek to ree ...
to re-create or preserve railway scenes of the past. Heritage railways are often old railway lines preserved in a state depicting a period (or periods) in the history of rail transport
Office of Rail and Road
The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) is a non-ministerial government department responsible for the economic and safety regulation of Britain's railways, and the economic monitoring of National Highways.
ORR regulates Network Rail by setting it ...
defines heritage railways as follows:
...'lines of local interest', museum railways or tourist railways that have retained or assumed the character and appearance and operating practices of railways of former times. Several lines that operate in isolation provide genuine transport facilities, providing community links. Most lines constitute tourist or educational attractions in their own right. Much of the rolling stock and other equipment used on these systems is original and is of historic value in its own right. Many systems aim to replicate both the look and operating practices of historic former railways companies.
Heritage railway lines have historic rail infrastructure which has been substituted (or made obsolete) in modern rail systems. Historical installations, such as hand-operated points
A water crane is a device used for delivering a large volume of water into the tank or tender of a steam locomotive. The device is also called a water column in the United States and Australia. As a steam locomotive consumes large quantities o ...
s, and rails fastened with hand-hammered rail spike
s, are characteristic features of heritage lines. Unlike tourist railways, which primarily carry tourists and have modern installations and vehicles, heritage-line infrastructure creates views and soundscape
s of the past in operation.
Due to a lack of modern technology or the desire for historical accuracy, railway operations can be handled with traditional practices such as the use of tokens
. Heritage infrastructure and operations often require the assignment of roles, based on historical occupations, to the railway staff. Some, or all, staff and volunteers, including
The station master (or stationmaster) is the person in charge of a railway station, particularly in the United Kingdom and many other countries outside North America. In the United Kingdom, where the term originated, it is now largely historical ...
s and signalmen
, sometimes wearing period-appropriate attire, can be seen on some heritage railways. Most heritage railways use heritage rolling stock, although modern rail vehicles can be used to showcase railway scenes with historical-line infrastructure.
While some heritage railways are profitable
A tourist attraction is a place of interest that tourists visit, typically for its inherent or an exhibited natural or cultural value, historical significance, natural or built beauty, offering leisure and amusement.
Places of natural ...
s, many are not-for-profit entities; some of the latter depend on enthusiastic volunteers for upkeep and operations to supplement revenue from traffic and visitors. Still other heritage railways offer a viable public-transit option, and can maintain operations with revenue from regular riders or government subsidies.
A children's railway or pioneer railway is an extracurricular educational institution, where children interested in rail transport can learn railway professions. This phenomenon originated in the USSR and was greatly developed in Soviet times. ...
s 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
The Dresden park railway (german: Dresdner Parkeisenbahn) is a minimum gauge railway in Dresden, Germany. The line opened in 1950 and was previously known as the ''Kindereisenbahn'' and the ''Pioniereisenbahn''. As these names suggest, the li ...
in Germany; the
The Gyermekvasút ( en, Children's Railway) or Line 7 is a narrow gauge railway line in Budapest, which connects and Hűvösvölgy and is long. The former name of the line was ''Úttörővasút'' (''Pioneer Railway'', in reference to the comm ...
Park Railway Maltanka
The Park Railway Maltanka ( pl, Kolejka Parkowa Maltanka, sometimes abbreviated to Maltanka) is a narrow gauge railway located in Poznań. It is long and is owned by ''Miejskie Przedsiębiorstwo Komunikacyjne w Poznaniu Sp. z o.o.'' ( en, P ...
; the Košice
Children's Railway in Slovakia, and the gauge steam railway on the grounds of St Nicholas' School in Merstham
, which the children help operate with assistance from the East Surrey 16mm Group and other volunteers.
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
A tunnel is an underground passageway, dug through surrounding soil, earth or rock, and enclosed except for the entrance and exit, commonly at each end. A pipeline is not a tunnel, though some recent tunnels have used immersed tube cons ...
ing may be employed. The use of narrow gauge
In mathematics, a curve (also called a curved line in older texts) is an object similar to a line, but that does not have to be straight.
Intuitively, a curve may be thought of as the trace left by a moving point. This is the definition that ...
s in the track, and offers a smaller
A structure gauge, also called the minimum clearance outline, is a diagram or physical structure that sets limits to the extent that bridges, tunnels and other infrastructure can encroach on rail vehicles. It specifies the height and width of pl ...
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
A mountain railway is a railway that operates in a mountainous region. It may operate through the mountains by following mountain valleys and tunneling beneath mountain passes, or it may climb a mountain to provide transport to and from the ...
s unmodernized. The engineering feats of past railway builders and views of pristine mountain scenes have made many railways in mountainous areas profitable tourist attractions.
A mine railway (or mine railroad, U.S.), sometimes pit railway, is a railway constructed to carry materials and workers in and out of a mine. Materials transported typically include ore, coal and overburden (also called variously spoils, waste, ...
s 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 mine
s have a vintage pit railway and offer mantrip
rides into the mine.
The Metro 1
(officially the Millennium Underground Railway or M1), built from 1894 to 1896, is the oldest line of the
The Budapest Metro ( hu, Budapesti metró) is the rapid transit system in the Hungarian capital Budapest. It is the world's oldest electrified underground railway system, and the second oldest underground railway system with multiple stations ...
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.
Heritage tram lines that offer scheduled service on a certain route and showcase historic aspects of streetcar systems are usually operated by heritage vehicles. Heritage tramlines that operate on a rail network that mainly serves the interest of modern urban mobility have difficulty in exhibiting historic tramway infrastructure, apart from the car itself. This kind of tramline is often operated mainly to attract tourists instead of providing urban access. Some technical aspects of historic tram infrastructure can prevent the use of a heritage line as an integral part of the public transport system. For example, heritage tramlines often lack handicapped
access which is required by law in many countries. Heritage tramlines can be either newly installed lines (created in modern times, 1970s or later) or be surviving older tramlines that have retained use of historic trams for all or most of their scheduled service.
Rail tracks designated solely or mainly to heritage streetcar traffic offer best opportunities for preservation of historic streetcar scenes. Some heritage tramways use all-new construction while others make use of an existing, usually disused, freight railway
, by installing overhead wires
and passenger stops. In some cities, new heritage tramways have been installed in the city center, to attract tourists and shoppers. Proponents of such projects claim that using a simple, reliable form of transit from 50 or 100 years ago can bring history to life for 21st century users. In serving certain types of transport needs, heritage tramways can turn out to be more economical than their modern counterparts, often with installations that can be built at a fraction of the cost of a corresponding modern standard. However, there are trade-offs; among other things, heritage systems can offer slower speeds, less capacity and higher upkeep costs due to use of non-industry-standard technology.
Around the world
The first heritage railway to be rescued and run entirely by volunteers was the Talyllyn Railway
. This narrow-gauge
line, taken over by a group of enthusiasts in 1950, was the beginning of the preservation movement worldwide.
(officially Viejo Expreso Patagónico, the Old Patagonian Express)
was declared a National Historic Monument
Government of Argentina
The government of Argentina, within the framework of a federal system, is a presidential representative democratic republic. The President of Argentina is both head of state and head of government. Executive power is exercised by the President ...
in 1999. Trains on the Patagonia
n narrow-gauge railway
use steam locomotives. The railway runs through the foothills of the Andes
and El Maitén
in Chubut Province
and Ingeniero Jacobacci
in Río Negro Province
In southern Argentina, the Train of the End of the World
to the Tierra del Fuego
National Park is considered the world's southernmost functioning railway. Heritage railway operations started in 1994, after restoration of the old (narrow-gauge) steam railway
In Salta Province
in northeastern Argentina, the Tren a las Nubes
(Train to the Clouds) runs along of track in what is one of the highest railways in the world
. The line has 29 bridges, 21 tunnels, 13 viaducts, two spirals
and two zigzags
, and its highest point is above sea level.
In the Misiones Province
, more precisely in the Iguazú National Park, is the Ecological Train of the Forest. With a speed below 20 km per hour to avoid interfering with wildlife and the formations are propelled to
liquefied petroleum gas
Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG or LP gas) is a fuel gas which contains a flammable mixture of hydrocarbon gases, specifically propane, propylene, butylene, isobutane and n-butane.
LPG is used as a fuel gas in heating appliances, cooking ...
(LPG), a non-polluting fuel.
The Villa Elisa Historic Train
(operated by Ferroclub Central Entrerriano) runs steam trains between the cities of Villa Elisa
Entre Ríos Province
Entre Ríos (, "Between Rivers") is a central province of Argentina, located in the Mesopotamia region. It borders the provinces of Buenos Aires (south), Corrientes (north) and Santa Fe (west), and Uruguay in the east.
Its capital is Para ...
, covering in 120 minutes.
The world's second most preserved railway, and the first outside the United Kingdom, was Australia's Puffing Billy Railway
. This railway operates on of track, with much of its original rolling stock built as early as 1898. Just about over half of Australia's heritage lines are operated by narrow gauge tank engines, much like the narrow gauge lines of the United Kingdom.
The Höllental Railway
is a , narrow-gauge ( Bosnian gauge
) railway, operating in
Lower Austria (german: Niederösterreich; Austro-Bavarian: ''Niedaöstareich'', ''Niedaestareich'') is one of the nine states of Austria, located in the northeastern corner of the country. Since 1986, the capital of Lower Austria has been Sankt ...
. It runs on summer weekends, connecting Reichenau an der Rax
to the nearby Höllental
, Belgium's northern Dutch-speaking region, has the Dendermonde–Puurs Steam Railway
; whereas Wallonia
, with its strong history of 19th century heavy industries, has the Chemin de fer à vapeur des Trois Vallées
and PFT operates the Chemin de Fer du Bocq
Heritage streetcar lines:
* Downtown Historic Railway
, in Vancouver, B.C
. Replaced temporarily by the Olympic Line during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics
, abandoned in 2012.
* Nelson Electric Tramway
, in Nelson, B.C.
: two streetcars - Car 400 (formerly BCER
, owned by the Royal BC Museum
, operational since 1999) and Car 23 (operational since 1992) operate on a 1.2 km route from City wharf to Lakeside Park.
* High Level Bridge Streetcar
, in Edmonton, Alberta
* Whitehorse trolley
, in Whitehorse, Yukon
. Closed in 2019.
Museums with operational heritage streetcar lines:
* Halton County Radial Railway
, in Rockwood, Ontario
* Canadian Railway Museum
, in Delson
/ Saint-Constant, Quebec
Heritage Park Historical Village
Heritage Park Historical Village is a historical park in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, on of parkland on the banks of the Glenmore Reservoir, along the city's southwestern edge. The Historical Village is open from late May to Thanksgiving and Herita ...
Calgary ( ) is the largest city in the western Canadian province of Alberta and the largest metro area of the three Prairie Provinces. As of 2021, the city proper had a population of 1,306,784 and a metropolitan population of 1,481,806, maki ...
Fort Edmonton Park
Fort Edmonton Park (sometimes referred to as "Fort Edmonton") is an attraction in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Named for the first enduring European post in the area of modern-day Edmonton, the park is the largest living history museum in Canada b ...
in Edmonton, Alberta
, operated by the Edmonton Radial Railway society along with the High Level Bridge Streetcar.
On the Finnish state-owned rail network
, the section between Olli and Porvoo
is a dedicated museum line. In southern Finland
, it is the only line with many structural details abandoned by the rest of the network which regularly carries passenger traffic. Wooden sleepers
, gravel ballast and low rail weight
with no overhead catenary
make it uniquely historical. Along the line, the Hinthaara railway station and the Porvoo railway station area are included in the National Board of Antiquities' inventory of cultural environments of national significance in Finland. Also on the list is scenery in the
Porvoonjoki (''Porvoo River'', sv, Borgå å) is a small river in Finland. The Mediaeval town of Porvoo is situated in the river delta. It is the main river of the Porvoonjoki drainage system, the sources of which are located on the southern ...
Valley, through which the line passes.
The Jokioinen Museum Railway
is a stretch of preserved narrow-gauge railway between Humppila
Jokioinen ( sv, Jockis) is a municipality of Finland.
It is located in the Tavastia Proper region. The municipality has a population of () and covers an area of of which is water. The population density is . The municipality is unilingually Fi ...
. Nykarleby Järnväg is a stretch of rebuilt narrow-gauge railway on the bank of the old Kovjoki– Nykarleby
The is a spur line
of the Prussian Eastern Railway
, located in the Märkische Schweiz Nature Park
. It was originally constructed in 1897 as a narrow-gauge railway
, with a gauge of , connecting Buckow
to the Müncheberg (Mark) station
. This line was electrified and changed to standard gauge
in 1930. It has operated as a heritage railway since 2002.
Of the mountain railways of India
, the Darjeeling Himalayan
, Nilgiri Mountain
and Kalka–Shimla Railway
s have been collectively designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site
To meet World Heritage criteria, the sites must retain some of their traditional infrastructure and culture.
The Čierny Hron Railway
is a narrow-gauge railway
Slovakia (; sk, Slovensko ), officially the Slovak Republic ( sk, Slovenská republika, links=no ), is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east, Hungary to the south, Austria to th ...
, established in the first decade of the 20th century and operating primarily as a freight railway for the local logging industry. From the late 1920s to the early 1960s, it also offered passenger transport between the villages of Hronec and Čierny Balog. The railway became Czechoslovakia
's most extensive forest railway
network. After its closure in 1982, it received heritage status and was restored during the following decade. Since 1992, it has been one of Slovakia's official heritage railways and is a key regional tourist attraction. The Historical Logging Switchback Railway
in Vychylovka is a heritage railway in north-central Slovakia, originally built to serve the logging industry in the Orava
regions. Despite a closure and dissasembly of most of its original network during the early 1970s, its surviving lines and branches have been (or are being) restored. The railway is owned and operated by the Museum of Kysuce, with a line open to tourists for sightseeing.
Switzerland has a very dense rail network
, both standard and narrow gauge. The overwhelming majority of railways, built between the mid-19th and early 20th century
, are still in regular operation today and electrified, a major exception being the Furka Steam Railway
, the longest unelectrified line in the country and one of the highest rail crossings in Europe
. Many railway companies, especially mountain railways
, provide services with well-preserved historic trains for tourists, for instance the Rigi Railways
, the oldest rack railway in Europe, and the Pilatus Railway
, the steepest in the world. Two railways, the
The Albula Railway (german: Albulalinie; it, Linea dell'Albula; rm, Lingia da l'Alvra) is a single track metre gauge railway line forming part of the so-called core network of the Rhaetian Railway (RhB), in the canton of Graubünden, Switze ...
and the Bernina Railway
, have been designated as a World Heritage Site
, although they are essentially operated with modern rolling stock. Due to the availability of hydroelectric resources in the Alps, the Swiss network was electrified earlier than in the rest of Europe. Some of the most emblematic pre-World War II electric locomotives and trains are the Crocodile
, notably used on the Gotthard Railway
, and the Red Arrow
. Both are occasionally operated by SBB Historic
. Switzerland also comprehends a large number of funiculars, several still working with the original carriages, such as the Giessbachbahn
In Britain, heritage railways are often railway lines which were run as commercial railways but were no longer needed (or closed down) and were taken over or re-opened by volunteers or non-profit organisations. The large number of heritage railways in the UK is due in part to the closure of many minor lines during the 1960s' Beeching cuts
, and they were relatively easy to revive. There are between 100 and 150 heritage railways in the United Kingdom.
A typical British heritage railway will use steam locomotive
s and original
The term rolling stock in the rail transport industry refers to railway vehicles, including both powered and unpowered vehicles: for example, locomotives, freight and passenger cars (or coaches), and non-revenue cars. Passenger vehicles c ...
to create a period atmosphere, although some are concentrating on diesel and electric traction to re-create the post-steam era. Many run seasonally on partial routes, unconnected to a larger network (or railway), and charge high fares in comparison with transit services; as a result, they focus on the tourist and leisure markets. During the 1990s and 2000s, however, some heritage railways aimed to provide local transportation and extend their running seasons to carry commercial passenger traffic.
The first standard-gauge line to be preserved (not a victim of Beeching) was the
The Middleton Railway is the world's oldest continuously working railway, situated in the English city of Leeds. It was founded in 1758 and is now a heritage railway, run by volunteers from The Middleton Railway Trust Ltd. since 1960.
The ra ...
; the second, and the first to carry passengers, was the Bluebell Railway
Not-for-profit heritage railways differ in their quantity of service and some lines see traffic only on summer weekends. The more successful, such as the Severn Valley Railway
and the North Yorkshire Moors Railway
, may have up to five or six steam locomotives and operate a four-train service daily; smaller railways may run daily throughout the summer with only one steam locomotive. The
Great Central Railway
The Great Central Railway in England was formed when the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway changed its name in 1897, anticipating the opening in 1899 of its London Extension. On 1 January 1923, the company was grouped into the ...
, the only preserved British main line with a double track, can operate over 50 trains on a busy timetable day.
After the privatisation of main-line railways, the line between not-for-profit heritage railways and for-profit branch line
s may be blurred. The
Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway
The Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway (RH&DR) is a gauge light railway in Kent, England, operating steam and internal combustion locomotives. The line runs from the Cinque Port of Hythe via Dymchurch, St. Mary's Bay, New Romney and Ro ...
is an example of a commercial line run as a heritage operation and to provide local transportation, and the Severn Valley Railway has operated a few goods trains
commercially. A number of heritage railway lines are regularly used by commercial freight operators.
Since the Bluebell Railway reopened to traffic in 1960, the definition of private standard gauge
railways in the United Kingdom as preserved railways has evolved as the number of projects and their length, operating days and function have changed. The situation is further muddied by large variations in ownership-company structure, rolling stock and other assets. Unlike community rail
ways, tourist railways in the UK are vertically integrated
(although those operating mainly as charities
separate their charitable
and non-charitable activities for accounting purposes).
Heritage railways are known in the United States as tourist, historic, or scenic railroads. Most are remnants of original railroads, and some are reconstructed after having been scrapped. Some heritage railways preserve entire railroads in their original state using original structures, track, and motive power.
Examples of heritage railroads in the US by preservation type:
East Broad Top Railroad and Coal Company
The East Broad Top Railroad (EBT) is a narrow gauge historic and heritage railroad headquartered in Rockhill Furnace, Pennsylvania.
Operating from 1871 to 1956, it is one of the nation's oldest and best-preserved narrow-gauge railroads ...
* Nevada Northern Railway
California Western Railroad
The California Western Railroad , AKA Mendocino Railway popularly called the Skunk Train, is a rail freight and heritage railroad transport railway in Mendocino County, California, United States, running from the railroad's headquarters in the ...
* Stewartstown Railroad
* Arcade and Attica Railroad
* Durango and Silverton Railroad
* Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad
(Colorado and New Mexico)
Hocking Valley Scenic Railway
The Hocking Valley Scenic Railway is a non-profit, 501c3, volunteer-operated tourist railroad attraction that operates out of Nelsonville, Athens County, Ohio. It is also located near the popular Hocking Hills State Park in nearby Hocking Cou ...
* Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum
Strasburg Rail Road
The Strasburg Rail Road is a heritage railroad and the oldest continuously operating standard-gauge railroad in the western hemisphere, as well as the oldest public utility in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Chartered in 1832, the Strasburg Ra ...
* Sumpter Valley Railway
* Tweetsie Railroad
* Virginia and Truckee Railroad
* Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington Railway
* Fort Collins Municipal Railway
;National Park Related Lines
* Steamtown National Historic Site
Grand Canyon Railway
The Grand Canyon Railway is a heritage railroad which carries passengers between Williams, Arizona, and the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.
The railroad, built by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, was completed on September 1 ...
* Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad
* Golden Spike National Historical Park
Other operations, such as the Valley Railroad
Hocking Valley Scenic Railway
The Hocking Valley Scenic Railway is a non-profit, 501c3, volunteer-operated tourist railroad attraction that operates out of Nelsonville, Athens County, Ohio. It is also located near the popular Hocking Hills State Park in nearby Hocking Cou ...
operate on historic track and utilize historic equipment, but are not reflective of the operations carried out by the original railroad they operate on. Hence, they do not fit into the Heritage Railway category, but rather Tourist Railway/Amusement.
Heritage streetcar lines are operating in over 20 U.S. cities, and are in planning or construction stages in others. Several new heritage streetcar lines have been opened since the 1970s; some are stand-alone lines while others make use of a section of a modern light rail
systems operating in Little Rock, Arkansas
; Memphis, Tennessee
Dallas () is the third largest city in Texas and the largest city in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the United States at 7.5 million people. It is the largest city in and seat of Dallas County wi ...
; New Orleans, Louisiana
; Boston, Massachusetts
( MBTA Mattapan Trolley
) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
( SEPTA route 15
); and Tampa, Florida
are among the larger examples. A heritage line operates in Charlotte, North Carolina
and will become a part of the city's new transit system. Another such line, called
The Silver Line
The Silver Line is a free confidential telephone helpline offering information, friendship and advice to older people in the United Kingdom, available 24 hours a day. As of 1 October 2019 The Silver Line joined forces with Age UK to help more o ...
, operates in San Diego
The San Francisco Municipal Railway
, or Muni, runs exclusively historic trolleys on its heavily used F Market & Wharves
line. The line serves Market Street and the tourist areas along the Embarcadero, including Fisherman's Wharf
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (abbreviated MBTA and known colloquially as "the T") is the public agency responsible for operating most public transportation services in Greater Boston, Massachusetts. The MBTA transit network i ...
runs exclusively PCC streetcars
on its Ashmont-Mattapan High Speed Line
, part of that authority's Red Line
. The historic rolling stock is retained because doing so cost less than would a full rebuild of the line to accommodate either a
Various terms are used for passenger railway lines and equipment; the usage of these terms differs substantially between areas:
A rapid transit system is an electric railway characterized by high speed (~) and rapid accelerati ...
line (like the rest of the Red Line or the Blue
Orange most often refers to:
* Orange (fruit), the fruit of the tree species '' Citrus'' × ''sinensis''
** Orange blossom, its fragrant flower
*Orange (colour), from the color of an orange, occurs between red and yellow in the visible spectrum
Lines) or a modern light rail
line (like the Green Line
). It is also unique in that it used almost exclusively by commuters and is not particularly popular with tourists (and thus may not really be a true heritage system, despite the historic rolling stock).
has the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority
has the Platte Valley Trolley
, a heritage line recalling the open-sided streetcars of the early 20th century. Old Pueblo Trolley
is a volunteer-run heritage line in
, "(at the) base of the black ill
, nicknames = "The Old Pueblo", "Optics Valley", "America's biggest small town"
, image_map =
, mapsize = 260px
, map_caption = Interactive map ...
; its popularity inspired, in large part, a modern streetcar system for Tucson currently in the final planning stages, which would incorporate the heritage line. The VTA
in San Jose, California
also maintains a heritage trolley fleet, for occasional use on the downtown portion of a new light rail
system opened in 1988. Other cities with heritage streetcar lines include
Galveston ( ) is a coastal resort city and port off the Southeast Texas coast on Galveston Island and Pelican Island in the U.S. state of Texas. The community of , with a population of 47,743 in 2010, is the county seat of surrounding Galv ...
; Kenosha, Wisconsin
San Pedro, California
San Pedro ( ; Spanish: " St. Peter") is a neighborhood within the City of Los Angeles, California. Formerly a separate city, it consolidated with Los Angeles in 1909. The Port of Los Angeles, a major international seaport, is partially located ...
(home of the
port of Los Angeles
The Port of Los Angeles is a seaport managed by the Los Angeles Harbor Department, a unit of the City of Los Angeles. It occupies of land and water with of waterfront and adjoins the separate Port of Long Beach. Promoted as "America's Port", ...
). The National Park Service
operates a system in Lowell, Massachusetts
Most heritage streetcar lines use overhead trolley wires
to power the cars, as was the case with the vast majority of original streetcar lines. However, on the Galveston Island Trolley
heritage line, which opened in 1988, using modern-day replicas of vintage trolleys, the cars were powered by an on-board diesel engine, as local authorities were concerned that overhead wires would be too susceptible to damage from hurricanes.
[Young, Andrew D. (1997). ''Veteran & Vintage Transit'' (). St. Louis: Archway Publishing.]
In spite of that precaution, damage in 2008 from Hurricane Ike
was heavy enough to put the line out of service indefinitely, and as of 2021 it has yet to reopen, but three streetcars are being repaired and reopening is planned.
Another heritage line lacking trolley wires was Savannah, Georgia's River Street Streetcar
line, which opened in February 2009 and operated until around 2015. It was the first line to use a diesel/electric streetcar whose built-in electricity generator is powered by
Biodiesel is a form of diesel fuel derived from plants or animals and consisting of long-chain fatty acid esters. It is typically made by chemically reacting lipids such as animal fat ( tallow), soybean oil, or some other vegetable oil ...
. In El Reno, Oklahoma
, the ''Heritage Express Trolley'' connects Heritage Park with downtown, using a single streetcar that has been equipped with a propane-powered on-board generator. The car formerly operated on SEPTA's Norristown High Speed Line
, where third-rail
current collection is used. The El Reno line is single-track
and long.El Reno, Oklahoma: Heritage Express Trolley
In Portland, Oregon, replica-vintage cars provided a heritage streetcar service, named Portland Vintage Trolley, along a section of that city's 1986-operated light rail line from 1991 to 2014.
Elsewhere in Portland, the Willamette Shore Trolley is a seasonal, volunteer-operated excursion service on a former freight railroad line, to Lake Oswego, Oregon. This operation uses a diesel-powered generator on a trailer towed or pushed by the streetcar, as the line lacks trolley wires. Similarly, the Astoria Riverfront Trolley in Astoria, Oregon, is a seasonal heritage-trolley service along a section of former freight railroad and using a diesel-powered generator on a trailer to provide electricity to the streetcar.
Other seasonal or weekends-only heritage streetcar lines operate in Yakima, Washington
Yakima ( or ) is a city in and the county seat of Yakima County, Washington, and the state's 11th-largest city by population. As of the 2020 census, the city had a total population of 96,968 and a metropolitan population of 256,728. The unin ... ( Yakima Electric Railway Museum); Fort Collins, Colorado; and Fort Smith, Arkansas
Fort Smith is the third-largest city in Arkansas and one of the two county seats of Sebastian County. As of the 2020 Census, the population was 89,142. It is the principal city of the Fort Smith, Arkansas–Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area .... The Fort Collins and Fort Smith lines are both operated by an original (as opposed to replica) Birney
A Birney or Birney Safety Car is a type of streetcar that was manufactured in the United States in the 1910s and 1920s. The design was small and light and was intended to be an economical means of providing frequent service at a lower infrastr ...-type streetcar, and in both cases the individual car in use is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In Philadelphia, the Penn's Landing Trolley operated seasonal and weekend service as a volunteer operation with former P&W equipment between September 1982 and December 17, 1995 on the Philadelphia Belt Line track on Columbus Boulevard in the historic Penn's Landing district.
Over 50 years later, the revival of extended streetcar operations in New Orleans is credited by many to the worldwide fame gained by its streetcars built by the Perley A. Thomas Car Works in 1922–23. These cars were operating on the system's Desire route made famous by Tennessee Williams
Thomas Lanier Williams III (March 26, 1911 – February 25, 1983), known by his pen name Tennessee Williams, was an American playwright and screenwriter. Along with contemporaries Eugene O'Neill and Arthur Miller, he is considered among the thre ...' '' A Streetcar Named Desire''. Some Perley Thomas cars were maintained in continuous service on the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar line until Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina was a destructive Category 5 Atlantic hurricane that caused over 1,800 fatalities and $125 billion in damage in late August 2005, especially in the city of New Orleans and the surrounding areas. It was at the time the co ... caused major damage to the right-of-way in 2005. The historic streetcars suffered only minor damage and several have been transferred to serve on the recently rebuilt Canal Street line while the St. Charles line is being repaired. New Orleans' St. Charles streetcar line is a National Historic Landmark
A National Historic Landmark (NHL) is a building, district, object, site, or structure that is officially recognized by the United States government for its outstanding historical significance. Only some 2,500 (~3%) of over 90,000 places liste .... Pre-Katrina, New Orleans had plans to reconstruct the Desire line along its original route down St. Claude Avenue.
In San Francisco
San Francisco (; Spanish for " Saint Francis"), officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the commercial, financial, and cultural center of Northern California. The city proper is the fourth most populous in California and 17t ..., parts of the cable car and Muni streetcar system (specifically the above-mentioned F Market & Wharves line) are heritage lines, although they are also functioning parts of the city's transit system. The cable cars are a National Historic Landmark and are rare examples of vehicles with this distinction. Located east of San Francisco is one of several museums in the U.S. that restore and operate vintage streetcars and interurbans, the Western Railway Museum
The Western Railway Museum, in Solano County, California is located on Highway 12 between Rio Vista and Suisun. The museum is built along the former mainline of the
Sacramento Northern Railway. Their collection focuses on trolleys, as it is ....
In popular culture
The preservation of the Talyllyn Railway was the inspiration for the 1953 Ealing Studios comedy '' The Titfield Thunderbolt''. The film is centred on the preservation of a fictional Somerset branch line from Titfield to Mallingford. Filmed on the Camerton branch in the summer of 1952, the branch was lifted after production had finished.
Many preserved railways also served as a filming location for several production companies; for example, the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway served as a filming location for the 1970 adaptation of ''
The Railway Children
''The Railway Children'' is a children's book by Edith Nesbit, originally serialised in '' The London Magazine'' during 1905 and published in book form in the same year. It has been adapted for the screen several times, of which the 1970 fil ...''.
Series three of '' Survivors'' uses heritage railways to help reestablish transportation, communication and trade in post-apocalyptic England.
Conservation and restoration of rail vehicles aims to preserve historic rail vehicles.
It may concern trains that have been removed from service and later restored to their past condition, or have never been removed from service, like UP ...
* List of heritage railways
* Restored train
* Gandy dancer
Gandy dancer is a slang term used for early Rail transport, railroad workers in the United States, more formally referred to as "section hands", who laid and maintained Track (rail transport), railroad tracks in the years before the work was don ...
* Wilbert Awdry
UK Heritage Railways
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UK Heritage Railway Photographs
National Preservation UK's leading heritage railways forum
Hungarian Interactive Railway Museum, Budapest
Henry Williams Limited
Engineering preservation societies