What happened? “Supertrain” was a train wreck of a television show about people living aboard a colossal, fictional train that had all the amenities of a cruise ship. It was basically “The Love Boat” on rails, only without the humor, wit or charm.
The true cost of “Supertrain” can only be found in NBC’s dusty ledgers but we can glean its expenses from its infamous production costs. According to a TV Guide from 1979, NBC paid $10 million, much of which went to three huge train sets in differing sizes. The most expensive was the full scale, 64-feet-long, 26-foot-wide train set. Another, 1.5-inch scale train and its tracks were used for middle-distance shots. And then there was the smallest, ¾-inch scale set, which included over 3,000 feet of tracks along with “acres of miniature towns and landscapes.”
At some point, one of those models crashed, adding even more money to production costs.
The show premiered with a two-hour pilot, and then eight episodes aired before it was cancelled. In 2018, someone on Imgur claimed to have found one of the models — a 30-foot long train with about 50 feet of track — rusting away in a barn. Here’s the “Supertrain” intro.