Are trains the most magical form of transportation?
In real life we don’t use them much anymore. But when they appear in stories (especially in films) they tend to have powerfully exotic and/or magical properties. I’m thinking of The Polar Express, The Darjeeling Limited, Spirited Away, the Harry Potter stories, etc.
So, are trains (in popular stories) more frequently magical than cars, buses, planes, etc. (in popular stories)? Or, to put it mathematically, where T = form of transportation, do trains score the highest in this equation?
[ (frequency of T in stories) / (frequency of T in life) ] x (popularity of stories with T) x (magic qualities of T)
Of course there are magic cars (Knight Rider, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) and even The Magic School Bus. But in stories about road trips, the car is primarily a source of forward motion. It’s a gritty thing, notable for its simple mechanics and its stubborn functionality.
If cars offer a way to navigate the road and make choices along it, trains provide the opposite: a fixed route that moves people from one stop to the next. The railroad has a destiny; passengers come along for the ride. They can meet strangers aboard and explore the various waystations. But the route they are traveling is not one they have mapped out for themselves.
And since trains connote a bygone era, they often have an ornate or bewildering style, which adds to their sense of mystery.
I’m just wondering if there is a particular kind of story that trains belong to, and if it’s necessarily more enchanted than other kinds of stories.