Can a Train Get Lost

Can a Train Get Lost?

Probably, you also have been in a situation when you got lost at least once in your lifetime. The GPS asks you to turn right, and you cans see at least two different ways on this direction. Although the probability of choosing the wrong way is only 50%, you almost always go the wrong way because that is so-called the irony of life. This usually happens when we travel on foot or drive a car in an unfamiliar or new place. Then we may think that it would be better to have chosen public transport, such as a train or a bus. After all, the train system seems to be performing well for many years and there are specialists working there. But did you know that trains can get lost too? Sounds weird, but it happens not so rarely.

Technology vs. Human Error

From the first sight, it seems like this could not be possible. Railway systems have been aligned over several hundred years, and now the entire system is managed by intelligent engineering systems and the latest computer technologies. The direction of the train is determined by the schemes made in advance and the driver has no steering wheel only a computer. Moreover, there are switches on the railway roads that should steer the train in the right direction. In general, many different electronic systems are responsible for the trip, but the driver should make sure that the journey runs smoothly. In other words, it should not be possible for a train to get lost in the wrong direction, but the factor of human error still occurs.

Real Examples

A few years ago, a train from Newcastle to Reading got lost. It is a long train ride, but the journey was interrupted when it was announced through the loudspeakers that the train was lost and now it is near Pontefract. That is not a far away from the primer destination, but even such a small mistake was enough to get it stuck there for a long time.


How did this happen? There had been an accident near Doncaster some time ago and that led to the decision to send this train on a slightly different route. However, due to a technical error, the train went much further than expected and a driver simply missed a turn to the planned detour. At first, the lost train drove back, then turned to where it was supposed to turn from the start, and finally the journey was interrupted in Sheffield: far from the real destination of the journey.

In 2016, a train lost in the US that was supposed to go to Charlottesville but turned to Richmond. It reached the final station 1 hour and 44 minutes late. In 2002, a train from Birmingham to Edinburgh arrived 45 minutes late because the driver did not know the route. Sometimes trains get lost due to technical errors and sometimes due to a lack of driver experience. The UK railways are used by many companies, so drivers need to know the way for switches to steer them in the right route.