Would Armoured Trains be effective for direct combat in a city with a extremely well developed rail network? This city has a rail a mostly above ground network built around the concept that there should be no place further than 450m away from a station, with most places no more than 300m from a station. There are a small offshoots that can only fit 1-3 car rail vehicles that go to things like large apartment complexes, malls & hospitals, for use by small private rail vehicles & small freight trains to supplement trucks in. Sometimes the city has 2 or 3 levels with rail lines going between them using spirals.

The armoured trains themselves consist of both multi unit vehicles & single car rail cruisers. They are armed with 30-57mm autocannons, 100-130mm tank cannons, missiles of various types & machine-guns. They have armour a bit stronger than that of a tank & all the defensive technologies available to a modern tank. They carry regular & power armour infantry. They carry rails to replace damaged rails on there route. They would operate alongside regular AFVs & infantry against equivalent well equipped opponents.

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    $\begingroup$ An opponent would covertly set up mines under the rails to cause a derailing or pre-calibrate an artillery strike on a specific rail location so that the shell impact lands just as the train passes it. Knocking out bridges, which take immense effort to replace, would also limit the mobility of the trains. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 5, 2021 at 6:51
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    $\begingroup$ Effective for what? A main battle tank, mobile artillery track, and 10-ton truck are each effective, but in quite different roles. What battlefield role(s) do you envision for your trains? $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Commented Aug 5, 2021 at 7:09
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    $\begingroup$ Carrying replacement rails is not enough to curb sabotage attempts - explosives will damage the ground on which the rail stands, needing far more construction work $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 5, 2021 at 7:46
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    $\begingroup$ @OT-64SKOT Didn't work too well for the Germans during WWII $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 5, 2021 at 8:49
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    $\begingroup$ Basically it is a tank in a city, with increased carry capacity and decreased mobility. Tanks in city environment, as standalone units/squads and as main penetrative force - are ineffective - too easy to block and destroy with items infantry can carry on their backs, ambush etc. In a combination with other forces - sure it will have certain effectivenes, but problems with rails breaks that tank magic, and pushes it more in some artilery support units, missile carriers, supply, transporting other types of offense units. As usual for everything - good for something, bad for the rest. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Commented Aug 5, 2021 at 12:51

2 Answers 2


This won't work. No way. Completely impossible.

And here's why:

Railroad tracks are easy to sabotage. In a combat situation, it is completely impossible to prevent sabotage.
It is very efficient to sabotage rails. Tracked vehicles cannot move around obstacles, unless their rails guide them around.
Tracks make tactics very limited: If everybody can see where your vehicles can go, and where they cannot, anticipating and preparing for their movement is extremely simple, planning their movement to prevent attacks and sabotage is extremely difficult. Also, tracks provide a very simple means for your enemies to decide where they can go safely (i.e. where the tracks are not).

In the comments, you mentionned that sabotaged tracks can be repaired. This is of course ture. But typically, you would sabotage tracks in a way that ensures the derailing of at least one vehicle. So, getting that vehicle out of its situation, fixing the hole in the ground, replacing the tracks, take time. (Tanks or trucks would just steer around the obstacle). Also, it is very predctable where the repair teams will be, making them very much ambushable.

Conclusion You limit yourself massively by your approach. Basically, you limit yourself by enforcing strict rules, that do not apply to your opposition. You have found a surprisingly expensive way to lose your wars in advance.

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    $\begingroup$ Tracks could be sabotaged without making big holes in the ground (e.g. cut the clips that hold the track to the sleepers on a bend), and sabotaging the signalling/points system could be done remotely and cause crashes/derailments. Moving slowly enough to detect sabotaged track then makes for a nice fat target - there was a bomb after all, 20m before the cut rail, and now it's detonated right under the car full of ammo. Trains in dense areas are probably moving slowly anyway to handle the inevitable curves. $\endgroup$
    – Chris H
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 14:52

Only if a central authority forced people to not destroy tracks.

Trains can be much larger than buses, and go much faster. They can carry more weight and more weapons. They have a lot of advantages over road bound vehicles.

But, it's easy to cut tracks and destroy trains. As such, you'd need a central authority that would harshly punish anyone who destroyed the tracks. If everyone was routinely destroying rails then the trails would be stuck in place. Even if they could replace the tracks then they would be stationary and easy to shoot and whoever they sent to replace tracks could be shot.

So, you need a central authority to forbid track cutting. Those fighting in the city would be warlords fighting over territory, who sought to use the trains to gain more land and profitable territory. They would know not to destroy tracks, and that they'd need to replace any tracks they accidentally wrecked.

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    $\begingroup$ OP asks for combat situations. If your government authority was that effective, there would not be a combat situation in that environment in the first place. $\endgroup$
    – Burki
    Commented Aug 5, 2021 at 11:21
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    $\begingroup$ It's not historically unusual to have a king who can defeat individual lords, and lords who fight among each other within the rules of their king. $\endgroup$
    – Nepene Nep
    Commented Aug 5, 2021 at 11:38
  • $\begingroup$ I fail to remember where said kings looked favourably on warring parties in the middle of their valuable infrastructure... ? $\endgroup$
    – Burki
    Commented Aug 6, 2021 at 8:39
  • $\begingroup$ Nobles who are fighting each other aren't working together to overthrow the king. Also, regular war ensures that the nobles have a ready military to use against external enemies when necessary. $\endgroup$
    – Nepene Nep
    Commented Aug 6, 2021 at 10:33

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