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A visual motif wherein a railroad stretching from the point of view to the horizon is used as a symbol of a long journey ahead or maybe of the vast world outside. Usually evokes feelings of adventurous thrill and romantic exploration. Alternatively, a train station where many railways converge is used to the same effect. A Cool Train is optional but the main focus is on the good old rails and sleepers (even in an age of monorails, etc.).

Compare At the Crossroads. See also Riding Into the Sunset and Train Station Goodbye.

Examples of Railroad to Horizon include:


  • Parodied in a John Sladek short story were the train is derailed by the track getting narrower toward the horizon.


  • The first act of Gypsy ends on a railroad platform, with rails and wires running off endlessly into the distance toward some far-away point, like the ambitions Rose grandiloquently expresses in the cue for her to sing "Everything's Coming Up Roses."

Video Games

  • The whole of Syberia duology is permeated by this motif: THE railroad begins not far from where Kate first enters the story and ends in the very final cutscene, symbolizing her entire journey into the depths of the surreal.
  • Railroads are very prominent in the most well-hidden ending of Tsukihime, Kohaku True, both in literal sense, with Shiki traveling to meet up with Kohaku at the Nanaya Mansion, and symbolic, representing the beginning of his new life.
  • Happens in Final Fantasy VIII, during a sequence where Squall is desperate to save Rinoa, and walks the railroad from Fishermen's Horizon to Esthar. The railroad spans a whole freaking ocean.


  • In the second album of The Protomen's rock opera, the first half ends when Dr. Light escapes from the lynch mob Wily's propaganda has whipped up when he gets put on a train leading out of the nameless city. Rather than being romanticized or opening up the larger world, however, it serves to highlight that Light's humanist ideals have been rejected, as well as how isolated The City is from the rest of the world, which might as well not exist from the perspective of those who live there.
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