The armored train was a convenient solution for the areas that were equipped with rails. It has appealed to the military as a quick solution to transport big loads of firepower. They were used heavily in the 19th and the 20th century, but became outdated afterwards. The main reason for the decision was the vulnerability of the train, due to the fixed and predictable rail location and the various surprise air attacks.
Because of heavy transporting capabilities, the train could be armored in different ways, starting with thick metal plates, concrete walls or the classic sandbags. These trains were escorted in the important missions by draisine, which has the capabilities to be driven in both directions, and were equipped with a light machine gun.
The idea of an armored train goes back to the American Civil War, in the 18th century and the Franco Prussian war. Winston Churchill was captured when travelling aboard such a train, in the Second Boer War, in 1899. At the time, he was occupying the position of a war correspondent.
In the American Civil War, the armored train was a successful war vehicle which protected the towns of Philadelphia and Baltimore. When a surprise attack was detected, a quick rigging of the locomotives and a few wagons with oak plate provided safety to the inhabitants of these cities.
Austro-Hungary made use of the armored train during World War I, against Italy. Britain built armored trains in order to patrol and protect its coastline against assaults from the sea.
The Trans-Siberian Railway was patrolled by armored trains, either equipped by naval engineers or built specially in factories. Russia has the biggest fleet of armored trains, composed of 103 vehicles of this type.
Apart from Russia, which used armored trains in the Second Chechen War, in the beginning of 2000, armored trains are not used anymore.