Any respectable game set on American soil in the late 1800s needs to have trains as one of its main transportation methods, so it's not surprising to see trains heavily featured in Red Dead Redemption 2 and Red Dead Online.
While trains can be used as a "regular" mean of travel only in the story mode, you are also able to take matters into your own hands and actually drive one.
Due to the wanted system, stealing a train is not suggested at all, as it will you make you wanted as soon as you pass any of the many stations found on the map. As it's considered among the worst crimes that can be committed in both story mode and online, the fiercest lawmen will be searching for you, and they will make your life a nightmare.
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Bounty Hunters will also start coming after you, placing blockades on the main roads hoping to ambush you and cash in on the bounty placed on your head. There is a way, however, to steal a train without becoming wanted, but you need to know what you are doing.
If any of this doesn't scare you at all, continue reading to learn how to steal trains in both the story mode and online modes.
Trains in Red Dead Redemption 2 story mode and Red Dead Online have their own schedule, so they can be found at stations only at specific times. As you can board trains legally in the story mode by purchasing a ticket at the station, it's possible to make them appear at will. This is not possible in Red Dead Online, as trains cannot be used as a fast travel method.
If you don't feel like purchasing a ticket in the story mode, or if you are playing Red Dead Online in Free Roam mode, you must wait at any of the game's stations for a train to arrive. It usually doesn't take all that long for them to do so, but if you are feeling restless, you can ride right next to any train track in the hope of catching one. You can board any train on the fly by riding with your horse right next to it and press the required button once you are side to side with a carriage.
No matter the method you have used to board the train, now it's time to reach the locomotive to take control of the entire train. If you have boarded the train legally, you will only encounter opposition from the train guards once you go beyond the last passenger car; if not, the guards will start confronting you immediately as soon as they see you.
Most trains don't have that many guards, so you shouldn't have trouble dispatching them if you have a full Dead Eye bar and powerful short and mid range weapons like shotguns. If you also want to make a profit, you can also proceed to rob the train as explained in our robbery guide.
Once you are at the locomotive, it's time to dispatch the driver and get your hands on the controls. Killing the driver after passengers have seen you on the train will result in you becoming wanted immediately. However, if you manage to do it without any witnesses, you will suffer no consequences. This is best achieved by boarding the train by jumping off your horse on the carriage closest to the locomotive while away from towns, cities and farms.
Now that the controls are yours, it's time to learn more about them. While driving trains, you must press Y on Xbox One and the Triangle button on PS4 to take control of the train. Then you can accelerate using the A button on Xbox One, X button on PS4 and Left Shift on PC, brake and reverse with the RB button on Xbox One, the R1 button on PS4 and Left Control on PC, whistle by pressing the left stick or G and ring the bell with the Left Trigger on Xbox One, the L2 button on PS4 and RMB on PC.
Stealing a train doesn't really bring any major advantages, as you cannot keep it permanently, so you're more or less doing it solely for the fun of it (and a significant amount of it at that!).
If you're looking for some more meaningful side-activities to complete in story mode, check out our 100% Completion guide.