Elevation and longitudinal section of atmospheric railway.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Elevation and longitudinal section of atmospheric railway, c mid 19th Century. In 1810, George Medhurst proposed a mode of transport in which a carriage was to be blown along rails in an iron tube by the action of compresed air. But it wasn't until October 1845 that the first ten- carriage atmospheric train reached a speed of 52mph, and it seemed that the steam locomotive might be facing real competition. However, in regular service the system proved unreliable, principally because of the difficulty in keeping the pipe airtight.