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Other vehicles, such as Minecarts and its variants, can be linked to a Steam Locomotive using a crowbar. Right-clicking with the crowbar will reverse the direction of the Steam Locomotive on the track. If it is linked to other vehicles, they will not be flipped with the locomotive; this will cause the locomotive to instead push them rather than pull.
It runs on an internal steam boiler, and as such will consume solid fuel items (such as coal coke, charcoal, and wood) and water to produce steam. When the steam tank is more than half full (and the "Running" mode is active), the locomotive will move forward at the speed it's set to. The number of other vehicles linked to it and the slope of the track will affect the speed of the locomotive.
There are three modes on the Steam Locomotive: Running, Idle, and Shutdown. When running, the locomotive will burn fuel and, provided the steam tank is sufficiently filled, move forward at the set speed. When Idle, the locomotive will not move but will continue burning fuel to continue producing steam and keep the internal temperature rising. When in Shutdown, the locomotive will cease burning fuel, and once the boiler cools down will stop producing steam as well.
Provided the locomotive is going fast enough, any mobs standing in front of a running train will instantly be killed. This will also happen to any players, regardless of them being in Creative mode or not, and a randomly-selected death message from the list further down will be broadcast.
Despite the danger of death, this mechanic can be used to a player's advantage. For example, a Creeper on the tracks of a typical Vanilla railway will turn a standard Minecart around, often having enough close contact with the player riding it to detonate. With a Steam Locomotive, however, the Creeper will be run over by the locomotive before it has the chance to explode. This makes a Steam Locomotive railway comparably safer than a Minecart railway powered by booster rails, even if completely exposed to mobs.
When a player is killed by a running steam locomotive, one of the following death messages is broadcast:
- [playername] bought a one-way ticket to the afterlife
- [playername] caught the wrong train
- [playername] got hit by a train
- [playername] played chicken with a train; the train won
- [playername] was playing on the tracks