What is a Land Train?

T. Carrier

A land train is a train-like vehicle designed for use on roads or other surfaces rather than railroad tracks. Other monikers for the land train include trackless train, parking lot train, road train, overland train, Dotto Train™, and Tschu-Tschu Train™. The latter names come from trademarked titles and are more generally used in Europe, whereas the former names are more common in North America. Transportation of passengers is the most prevalent use of the land train.

Businesses or theme parks with massive parking lots may use trackless trains to transport customers.
Businesses or theme parks with massive parking lots may use trackless trains to transport customers.

Land trains developed in part to allow companies to deliver to areas with rougher terrain. Independence from railway system reliance also played a role in development. The United States army was among the first groups to request experimental examples of land trains. Heavy equipment manufacturers created some of these initial lines.

Designs of a land train and a traditional train are similar. Both consist of a front vehicle where the driver resides, the tractor unit. Each vehicle also has one or more carriage vehicles connected to it. For land trains, these carriages usually contain passengers. The driver navigates a land train with a steering wheel, much like a traditional land vehicle.

In both types of trains, the driver vehicle and the carriages are connected by rigid devices called drawbar couplings. These devices enable movement and transmit power. The vehicle derives power from either an electric motor or a combustion engine as well. A land train’s body may be created from aluminum or fiberglass.

Passenger carriages have divergent features. They may or may not contain a roof and luxuries such as padded seats. Capacity also varies, with some carriages seating around five individuals while others can carry a load up to 50. Almost all carriages, however, do contain locks for safety purposes.

The land train is a fixture at amusement parks where it is used to move tourists from one destination to another. Some amusement park attractions even utilize trackless trains as part of the ride. Amusement park trains are often decorated like antique trains or in some other fashion to enhance the riding experience for the tourist. Tour guides may make use of land trains as well.

Some businesses also offer use of rental land trains. These vehicles run around 10 miles per hour (16 kph). They may be used on smaller roads for private use or at larger events where such a vehicle is needed. Due to its usefulness in passenger transport, the land train is comparable to a tourist trolley or tram bus.

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