Video : Disco tows 100-tonne train and, er, survives


The Discovery Sport was able to pull 60 times its own weight, when powered by Jaguar Land Rover’s 177bhp Ingenium diesel engine. In addition, the Discovery Sport benefitted from Land Rover’s portfolio of towing and traction technologies such as Terrain Response, Tow Assist, Tow Hitch Assist and All Terrain Progress Control – a semi-autonomous off-road driving system that automatically manages engine output and braking, to complete the tow.

The train-pulling feat was undertaken on six miles of track at the Museumsbahn Stein am Rhein in Switzerland, crossing the River Rhine on the dramatic Hemishofen bridge – a historic steel span measuring 935ft and 85ft above the valley floor. Land Rover has a history of rail conversions, from the days of the Series II and IIA Land Rover to the various Defender models that have been modified to run on rails for maintenance, and the notable launch of Discovery I in 1989. The latter saw a converted Discovery towing a series of carriages in Plymouth to demonstrate the capability of the then new 200Tdi diesel engine.

The vehicle’s drivetrain remained unchanged – the only modification being the fitment of rail wheels by specialists Aquarius Railroad Technologies, to act as ‘stabilisers’. Karl Richards, Lead Engineer for Stability Control Systems at Jaguar Land Rover, said: ‘Towing is in Land Rover’s DNA and, despite Discovery Sport being the smallest model in the range, it has proved its exceptional towing capabilities. Over the years, we have introduced towing technologies to take the stress out of towing for our customers. I’ve spent most of my career travelling to the most punishing parts of the world to test Land Rovers in gruelling conditions, yet this is the most extreme towing test I’ve ever done.’


Keith Adams


  1. Not as difficult as you are being led to believe, employed as a fitter in a railway workshop, we used to push 30 ton roller bearinged (Timken) SR EMU coaches around the depot maintenance roads as it was easier than using the ropes and capstans, dragging the heavy ropes from the capstan to the coach was far more strenuous. Two fitters could push a coach 50 yards without too much effort.

  2. The hardest part is getting it moving, what dog sledders call “breaking out”. After that it’s momentum. 177hp is more than enough to shift that weight, the very first DMU trains only had about 200 (and were rated for 75mph).
    I’d be more worried about stopping it than starting it moving.

  3. Good PR stunt. As anyone who has read the Thomas the Tank Engine books will know, leaving the couplings between the carriages slack will make starting off easier.

  4. You are correct about leaving the couplings between the coaches slack, it is then a matter of each coach starting to move and then assisting the next in line. this used to be demonstrated on the fabulous Pendon GWR Model railway Museum at Abingdon, Stopping is the problem, the most powerful part of a car is not the engine, , a Porsche is intended to decelerate from speed in half the time to accelerate, such as 0 to 60 in 5 seconds, 60 to zero in 2.5 seconds. The brakes are far more “powerful” than the engine.

  5. Is this the new London To Brighton train?
    And If I used one of those Chinese copycat Land Rovers would it require less spare parts???

  6. At a certain preserved railway that I used to volunteer on, we used to shunt a 400 tonne train with an 88bhp Ruston shunter built in the mid-1950s. No big feat of traction by LR.

  7. As someone said good publicity stunt JLR. You could do this with any SUV 4×4 vehicle. It’s all to do with the coefficient of friction of rubber on steel being much better than steel on steel (wheels / track).
    Mercedes-Benz produced a similar conversion for its Unimog 4×4 vehicle which pulled much, much, more than 100 tonnes.

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