That’s exactly what Land Rover has done over in Switzerland, in a stunt that saw a 180hp 2.0-litre TD4 Discovery Sport lug a 100-tonne train on 10km of track in Switzerland – including a section over the 85-foot-high Hemishofen bridge.
Standard apart from the conversion to running on track with a set of rail wheels – even the original road wheels were retained – the stunt is actually the latest in a history of Land Rovers acting as locomotives to demonstrate their towing capabilities.
Indeed, at the original 1989 Discovery launch, a converted 200Tdi model lugged a set of carriage at a station in Plymouth. Numerous Land Rovers have also been modified to run on rails to carry out track maintenance duties.
To help the Discovery Sport, which has a certified towing weight of 2.5 tonnes, haul the 100-tonne train, Land Rover utilised the vehicle’s All Terrain Progress Control, its off-road cruise control system that maximises pull-off and traction. This helped get it rolling on the rails despite lacking a low-range gearbox.
Actually getting rolling is easier said than done when the towing vehicle, weighing less than two tonnes, is being asked to pull 100 tonnes…
Jaguar Land Rover engineer Karl Richards said he’s spent most of his career punishing Land Rovers in gruelling conditions in the name of validity research “yet this is the most extreme towing test I’ve ever done”.
It was British road-to-rail conversion experts Aquarius Railroad Technologies that fitted the rail wheels to the Discovery Sport. Its MD James Platt said that “no modifications were necessary to the drivetrain whatsoever and in tests the Discovery Sport generated more pull than our road-rail Defender, which is remarkable”.