Discovery’s Mighty Trains celebrates riding the rails

Teddy Wilson loves to travel. He also loves trains. So it makes total sense that the InnerSpace and sometime Daily Planet co-host would—when he’s not talking all things sci-fi or science—ride the rails for Discovery’s newest series.

Mighty Trains, debuting the first of six episodes Sunday on the specialty channel, is the latest in the “Mighty” franchise that has previously celebrated ships, planes and cruise ships. But where those three had narration and one-sided conversations to describe what it’s like living and working on the machinery in the sea and sky, Mighty Trains has Wilson climbing aboard, talking directly to viewers and folks riding and working on the trains.

“I think the producers wanted to add a host to this one because the nature of trains is about the journey and a bit more of a focus on the passengers and the travel element,” Wilson says. “And I think having a host is representative of the viewer and drawing them into the journey.” He’s right. When I think of riding a train, it’s about looking out the window, experiencing the scenery, drinking in the adventure and chatting with my seatmates.


But Mighty Trains, like its counterparts, does go under the hood to explore what’s so special about these trains. Sunday’s first instalment follows Wilson on the Glacier Express, an eight-hour ride from Zermatt, Switzerland, at the base of the Matterhorn, to the ski town St. Moritz. With parts of the line in operation for more than 125 years, it takes old technology to get these sleek, modern train cars through its climb of almost 5 km along inclines of up to 12 per cent, way over the three to four traditional trains can handle.

“This rack and pinion technology is an ancient technology, but it’s used on these ascents and descents,” Wilson says. “Seeing this technology in action and getting to visit the place where they actually build the train cars … I was absolutely blown away by it and that fascination really extended to every episode.” Future Sundays spotlight The Shinkansen, Japan’s bullet train between Tokyo and Osaka; Norway’s North Rail Express, a state-of-the-art freight service between the Arctic Circle and Oslo; the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad and its relationship to the Klondike Gold Rush; and The Ghan in Australia, which travels between Adelaide in the south and Darwin in the north, bisecting the country in its three-day journey.

A Canada-based production wouldn’t be complete without celebrating a train in this country; that happens Oct. 30 when Mighty Trains hops on The Canadian—star of the $10 bill—for the four-day journey from Toronto to Vancouver.

“I’m a proud Canadian and have been all over the country, but I had never crossed the country by train,” Wilson says. “That was a real life highlight for me, waking up every morning and seeing this completely different landscape from the window of a train.”

Mighty Trains airs Sundays at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on Discovery.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

Greg David
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Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and partner at TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from hundreds of television series from Canada, the U.S. and internationally. He is a podcaster, public speaker, weekly radio guest and educator, and past member of the Television Critics Association.
Greg David
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