Date: 21st July 2015
It's not something most of us have cause to consider, but back in the '60s and '70s when train companies around the world were looking to run ever-faster services, the one thing holding them back wasn't the power or efficiency of the locomotives. It was the track.
How could a curved track designed for trains running at 50mph hope to accommodate vehicles travelling at twice that speed without them tipping over? The answer was to tilt the train in the opposite direction - to lean them into the curve - so that they remained upright and passengers were not thrown around.
So it was that the first 'Pendolino'-style Advanced Passenger Trains entered service on the UK's West Coast Main Line route, to much scepticism and derision from the British public. However, the Pendolino trains are still very much in use today.
All very interesting, but how - apart from a play on the word 'tilt' - does this affect pinball?
To find out, we go to Strasburg in southern Pennsylvania, around sixty miles west of Philadelphia, from where the Strasburg Rail Road operates it's rather awesome steam locomotives and passenger cars.
What could be better that a leisurely and relaxing train journey through Amish country, enjoying the beautiful scenery, reclining in a first class carriage, and marvelling at the elegance and sophistication of the golden age of rail travel?
Obviously you liven things up by installing some pinball machines. A dozen of them to be exact, carefully fitted into one of the train's tilting Pendolino passenger carriages.
Electromechanical titles from the '60s such as Cow Poke, Soccer, Apollo and Star Trek share the space inside the authentically-restored wooden passenger carriage with electronic games from the late '70s and early '80s like Firepower II, Night Rider and Eight Ball.
Here's the full list of machines in the train carriage.
The train takes passengers on a 45-minute round-trip journey from East Strasburg to the town of Paradise in Pennsylvania.
Playing pinball in a Pendolino carriage requires a whole new level of ball control and anticipation skills as the train rounds the curves in the track, as well as a rather more relaxed tilt setting. The machines themselves come from the collection of Steve Zuckerman who is the co-owner of the Silverball Museum Arcade in Asbury Park, New Jersey.
Access to the pinballs in limited to those with special Pinball Pendolino tickets, which cost $18 (or $33 for two) plus a $5 handling fee. Pairs of passengers are allocated a two-person seat and its associated machine to play during the trip. With twelve machines, that makes a maximum of twenty-four passengers in the car.
The Pinball Pendolino runs on the hour from 11am until 5pm during weekends from July 18th, 2015. Pre-booking is definitely advised although there's no facility to pre-select the machine you would like to play.
If you've ridden the Pinball Pendolino, let us know about your experience.
© Pinball News 2015