Jules Verne Train

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The train lifts from the tracks

The Jules Verne Train or "Train Time Machine" or simply the "Time Train", labeled "ELB" on each side after its creator, was the culmination of Emmett Brown's previous experience with building the DeLorean time machine and working with the steam locomotive that pushed it to 88 mph.[1] It was a time machine itself that ran off of steam rather than gasoline, built from after 1885 to 1895. When Doc succeeded in its first temporal displacement test, he and his family traveled to 2015 or beyond to give it a hover conversion.

Train (16)

Back of the Jules Verne Train

The flux capacitor was still included in this design, in the place of the lamp at the front of the locomotive[2] Unlike the DeLorean, the external components of the Time Train were symmetrical on both sides of the vehicle, possibly representing a more sophisticated grasp of the time travel technology on Doc's part, despite being constructed from more primitive materials.

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Jules Verne Train Interior

On October 27, 1985, when Doc met up with Marty McFly and Jennifer Parker, he chose the most likely place that they might be at that given time, the site of the DeLorean's destruction. Interestingly, before the Time Train appeared, it triggered the bells and gates on the nearby railroad crossing as if another train was coming. This could mean that this time machine is so powerful that enables a connection with its destination time even before arriving to that point of the time.

Background Information

Although the events of Back to the Future Part III take place in 1885, the locomotive which pushed the DeLorean to 88 mph was an 1897 model Rogers 4-6-0 mixed traffic engine. The Time Train is a locomotive of the same design as the one that pushed the DeLorean to 88 mph in 1885. However, the two trains cannot be the same locomotive due to the explosion that destroyed the first train, leaving little of the train on the valley floor. The time train had to have been built from another train either purchased by Emmett Brown or by him stealing one; the former being more likely since the upper class clothing of the Brown family indicated he had become rich enough to purchase a locomotive of that type.

The train uses technology from the hoverboard that was left behind when Marty left 1885 for 1985. The frictionless dynamo from the hoverboard was able to store multiples of the 1.21 jigowatts that were necessary for time travel. The original flux capacitor built for the train consisted of a wooden box, metal that was arranged as a "Y", and six incandescent light bulbs arranged in a pattern of three on each side of the box. The original time circuits consisted of three mechanical clocks, where the hour, minute and second hands would display where the time machine currently was, where it had been, and where it was going to go.

On June 12, 1893, the Brown family attempted to travel in the Jules Verne train to 1985. Doc had paid a group of railroad workers to lay down fifty yards of track, as he calculated that the distance would be enough to reach 88 mph, since he had improved the performance of the presto logs. The trip failed however, as the train didn't achieve temporal displacement, and crashed.

After seeing a Steam tricycle driver driving a Serpollet steam tricycle, Doc decided to use one as a time machine. He used the flux capacitor and the time circuits from the prototype Jules Verne Train. He then donned a diving suit to protect himself from the the stresses of space-time and the temperature variation. He successfully traveled to 2035, where he had planned to pick up everything he needed to complete the Jules Verne Train.


Front view of the special effects miniature.

Behind the scenes

  • While designing the look for the train, production designer Rick Carter became inspired by the Nautilus from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which seemed an obvious choice considering Doc and Clara's love for the works of Jules Verne. The full-size mock-up of the Time Train still stands at Universal Studios Orlando, even though the ride has since closed.
  • In Back to the Future: The Animated Series, the flux capacitor of the train is located on the inside as shown in the episode "Witchcraft".
  • A replica of the locomotive (excluding the tender) stood outside the building of Back to the Future: The Ride prior to its closure.
  • In the episode 'Put on your thinking caps, kids! It's time for Mr. Wisdom!', the train had a rope that could be fired from the smoke box door. This was used to latch onto the back of the DeLorean, which Walter Wisdom had stolen.


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Notes and references

  1. In Back to the Future: Untold Tales and Alternate Timelines 5, it is revealed that Doc had improved his presto logs to attempt to get the train up to 88 mph.
  2. Although in Back to the Future: The Animated Series, it is located inside the cab to the right of the controls.

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