Format: 2 DVD set
Length: 6 hours +
Time Period: 2008
This is a complete television series, on DVD. Bonus footage included.
Host Matt Bown is a train conductor in Maine. In this modern look at railroading, Matt indulges in his passion… trains. This series has basic episodes about trains. To say the presentations are lively, is an understatement. Matt is an energetic and dynamic host.
The show has our host examine a train subject. Simple explanations, graphic illustrations and slick camerawork are all used to convey information. There are historical elements, and these can have old black and white films/ photos.
A few detailed reviews of some random, individual episodes are posted on ATVR.
A good amount of knowledge will be presented in a show. There will also be Matt getting into whatever he can! Entertaining with his ‘Let me try that’ attitude. In Circus Train for example, Matt wants to help out. He gets to shovel; both coal and manure! Of course, our hero gets hungry after that workout. He takes a walk over to the circus train ‘pie car’. A fun episode with circus performers and the animals adding more fun. The circus train will journey from one city to the next. The operations are viewed. Some circus history as well.
In Empire Builder, there is snow in the high country. Matt gets on a snowmobile, he is on the abandoned original right of way, for the first Cascade Tunnel.
Steam Engine, has Matt onboard the Union Pacific #844. A solid and fun show.
Amtrak gets featured on ‘High Speed Train’. Matt travels on the fast, northeast corridor. This is an electric, overhead power train. Catenary power wires and pantographs mounted on the powercar are the basics. The custom built trainsets are explained, in detail. The 6000hp power cars can attain 150mph!
Matt has an ultimate backstage pass for what goes on, behind the scenes. This all access format, allows us to see many jobs and operations that normally are not on public view.
Here is a brief report on a single episode…
Freight train. Matt rides a BNSF train loaded with millions of dollars worth of consumer goods. It is a double stack train. Travel from Los Angeles to Ft. Worth Texas in 48 hours. Not only do we join the engine crew in the cab of a 4400 hp locomotive. Matt will take sidelines to: Cajon Pass construction. BNSF heavy maintenance at Barstow, And operate various pieces of heavy equipment. Oh, throw in a quick visit to see a steam engine at Steamtown. Fast pace and Matt is stoked up! Maps and more graphics illustrate many things. An excellent program. That rock soundtrack might be a little too extreme, for some viewers.
Episodes do vary somewhat. Some shows can be too simple for the veteran railfan. Should usually have points of interest, even for knowledge train heads. Most shows will have something for everyone. Fast paced episodes that rock and roll with interesting sidebars to go with the main theme.
The kids will like this updated style of presentation. There is a massive amount of information on how things work on a railroad. All kinds of equipment, machinery, operations, and geography. History is intertwined on the episodes.We visit many other places such as: locomotive simulator, high-tech dispatch centers, lift bridge controls, construction sites, ocean docks, intermodal facilities, and much more. Most of the major class ones are part of the series. Big 3rd generation locomotives are standard.
These are fun shows overall. While, Matt is living on his dream trains, the viewers are included like a group of good friends. Railroad men will talk to us too. They will discuss what they are doing, and why. Matt often asks, How does this work?
You will find that, Matt is a: loud, noisy, busy and amicable host. The man does communicate a wealth of information. At times, he can be ‘over the top’ excited. At first view, he can be a little too much. Give him a chance and watch a few episodes. You’ll get used to him. He is a man on a mission. The guy loves trains.
The camerawork is excellent. The quick shots and racing speed edits can get excessive. The music is rocking and some scenes resemble mtv. After a couple of shows in a row, you may need a break from it all. But, you’ll be back for more.
Bonus footage is a collection of fully developed outtake segments. Equipment and trackwork are some features. You can recognize some episodes that these segments were created on.
This is an amazing amount of materiel on a pair of DVD’s. An outstanding value. Highly recommended, modern look at railroading.
Rating: 4 1/2 Stars