5 of the Greatest Train Movies of All Time

Trains have always managed to capture the senses. From the moment the first steam train rolled through the British countryside, there has been a fascination for the mighty locomotive and the ever-increasing speed it travels with. Back in 1896, the train featured in one of the first movies ever made and amazed audiences in Paris. From then until present day, trains have chugged around studios and starred in some remarkable train movies. Here are our 5 favorite rail adventures to have graced the big screen.

1. The Great Train Robbery (1903)

Bandit aiming at camera | 5 of the Greatest Train Movies of All Time

A film of great historical significance, despite having a running time of only 11 minutes. For the first time ever, a plot was introduced to the moving images and audiences were able to enjoy a spectacular robbery followed by a chase scene. Without a doubt the most memorable scene is the very last one, where a bandit aims his gun at the camera and pulls the trigger. Not much of a special effect today, but ample reason for excitement — and fear — back in 1903!

Funfact: This movie was released exactly 100 (!) years before Trainspotting. Granted, that film has less to do with trains than it does with rampant substance abuse, but the time gap does give us some perspective.

2. Strangers on a Train (1951)

Strangers on a Train poster | 5 of the Greatest Train Movies of All Time

Leave it to Alfred Hitchcock, the Master of Suspense, to turn any train into a terrifying environment. In this classic thriller, a tennis player and a psychopath meet on the train. They find common ground in the fact that they both want someone dead. The psychopath suggests an exchange of murders so the two of them can kill perfect strangers, seemingly without a motive. Of course, this little chat between them has dramatic consequences. It might make you not want to talk to anyone on the train ever again…

3. Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

Hercule Poirot on the Orient Express | 5 of the Greatest Train Movies of All Time

Who did it? That’s the central question in Agatha’s Christie’s famous novel, first brought onto the big screen in 1974. A brutal murder is committed on board the Orient Express traveling from Istanbul to London, and it’s up to detective Hercule Poirot to solve the case. With snow blocking the tracks Poirot starts his investigation, only to find out that all his fellow passengers are somehow connected to the victim.

If after seeing this movie you feel like stepping into Poirot’s shoes, you should definitely read our blog on How You Can Relive the Orient Express.

4. Runaway Train (1985)

Jon Voigt in Runaway Train | 5 of the Greatest Train Movies of All Time

Imagine your train going full throttle through snowy Alaska without any brakes – or a driver. Escaped convicts Manny and Buck find themselves in this particular predicament, while being pursued by a sadistic warden. As far as train movies go, this is one of the most action-packed blockbusters you’ll ever see!

5. Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

Steve Martin and John Candy in Planes, Trains & Automobiles | 5 of the Greatest Train Movies of All time

This movie proves that trains can be funny as well as scary! While poor Neal does everything in his power to get home for Thanksgiving, he gets stuck with the impossibly annoying Del Griffith. Watching these two opposites travel together in the same direction is pretty hilarious. It’s also a nice change of pace if you just watched the suspenseful murder movies mentioned above.

Funfact: Another train-related comedy to come out in 1987 was Throw Momma From the Train. In this film, a man comes up with the less than original plan to exchange murders – after first having watched Strangers on a Train. The plot of both train movies is exactly the same, although this one aims to make you laugh instead of hide under your blanket.

Is your favorite train movie missing from the list, and does the Eurail staff need to see it? Let us know in the comments!


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