What is a locomotive

locomotive

Museum railways that are pulled by steam locomotives now run on some routes. This one is heated with coal and that's why it smokes so heavily.

A locomotive is a vehicle on the railroad. The name "locomotive" comes from Latin and means "to move from place to place". In abbreviated form, it is also simply called “locomotive”. The locomotive is usually at the front of the train and pulls the other wagons behind. If a train is particularly long and heavy, several locomotives can be used. In modern passenger trains such as the ICE, the drive is distributed over several cars, so they no longer have their own locomotive.

The French Joseph Nicolas Cugnot built the first steam-powered vehicle in 1769. The first working steam locomotive was built by the Briton George Stephenson in 1813, but it took another twelve years before people were transported for the first time. The first railway line was also built in England. Over time, trains powered by steam locomotives have become the most popular means of transport. About a hundred years later it was replaced by the diesel locomotive.

What types of locomotives are there?

Locomotives are differentiated according to the type of drive: There are steam locomotives, electric locomotives and diesel locomotives.

A steam locomotive always consists of a carriage with a steam engine. Coal is burned in the combustion chamber, which heats the water in the boiler and this creates steam. The water vapor is directed to the cylinder, where it presses and moves a piston. The movement of the piston is transmitted to the wheels via rods. This sets the steam locomotive in motion. About 34,000 liters of water fit in the tank. The container in which the coal is kept is called a tender. The air that flows through the pipes can reach temperatures of up to 1000 degrees.

Today's locomotives are mostly powered by electric motors. They usually drive faster and use less energy. There is also no more smoke or steam and you can't smell anything. In order for the locomotive to run electrically, however, it needs electricity all the time. Most of the time, the electricity comes from overhead lines hanging over the rails. In the case of S-Bahn and U-Bahn, the electricity often comes from a special rail.

However, not all railway lines have power lines. It is time-consuming and expensive to build lines. Therefore, it is not worthwhile everywhere. Locomotives that run on diesel are the main drivers there today. Diesel is a petroleum fuel that many cars and trucks use.

  • Such rods are used to drive the wheels of a steam locomotive.

  • Electric locomotives get their electricity with this consumer from the overhead line.

  • Diesel locomotives do not need an overhead line.

  • Because the red electric locomotive cannot run without electricity, the gray diesel locomotive pushes it into the locomotive shed.

  • A model of a locomotive from the early days of the railroad in the 1830s.


There are also other search results for “Locomotive” from Blinde Kuh and Ask Finn.

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