AP PHOTOS: Rulers ride the rails across history

NEW YORK (AP) — We can fly now, of course. But sometimes we don't.

As with much of his country's political theater, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's trip to visit China's leader this week was calibrated carefully — to deliver, as always, maximum visual propaganda power. As part of that, and part of a Kim family tradition of rail travel, he got from Pyongyang to Beijing by train.

Trains emphasize connectedness. And tracks - be it on a railroad across a nation or continent, a regional rail across a metropolitan area, or a commuter train across town - are, by definition, connectors. A railroad offers the feel of a place always in motion, where passengers congregate to move around the map and where those outside participate in and ponder arrivals and departures. It conveys a sense — accurate or otherwise — of being a place by, of and for the people.

Perhaps that's why it is such a potent visual, and such a visually appealing method of transportation, often trotted out by leaders trying to mingle with the public — or just be perceived as doing so.

Here is a collection of images of the world's leaders through the years who used trains and their tracks to connect with people and to move through the landscape in ways seen as appealingly, and politically, accessible.

Rulers ride the rails across history
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Rulers ride the rails across history
FILE - In this Wednesday, March 20, 2013 file photo, Queen Elizabeth II is given a tour of the carriage of a parked train at the Baker Street underground station in London, for a visit to mark the 150th anniversary of the London Underground - her first public engagement in more than a week Wednesday after cancellations following her hospitalization for a stomach bug. (AP Photo/Chris Radburn, Pool)
FILE - In this Oct. 13, 1985 file photo, U.S. Vice-President George H.W Bush and wife Barbara Bush, center, and Chinese officials ride in the rear car of a special train which carried him from Canton City to the Shenzhen special economic zone in China. (AP Photo/Neal Ulevich)
FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2002 file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il waves out of a window of his armored train at the Russian border railway station of Khasan, Russia. (AP Photo/Igor Kochetkov, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 5, 1944 file photo, National Congress Party leader Mahatma Gandhi, center, disembarks from a train in Bombay, India, for talks with Mohammad Ali Jinnah, leader of the Muslim League. India gained freedom from Britain in 1947, sparking bloody religious riots as the subcontinent was partitioned to create largely Hindu India and largely Muslim Pakistan. (AP Photo)
FILE - In this Saturday, June 26, 2004 file photo, President Vladimir Putin prepares to leave a subway car in St. Petersburg, Russia. Putin arrived in St. Petersburg to take part in a ceremony to open train service at one of the subway lines that had been restored. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
FILE - In this Sunday Aug. 25, 1996 file photo, President Clinton is joined by his wife, Hillary, and daughter, Chelsea, as they wave to the crowd just before departing Huntington, W.Va., via train to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. (AP Photo/Greg Gibson)
FILE - In this Wednesday, March 19, 1980 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan shakes hands with a commuter aboard a train from New Haven, Conn., to New York's Grand Central Station in New York. Flanking Reagan are unidentified speechwriters. (AP Photo/Ron Frehm)
FILE - In this Feb. 4, 2002 file photo, a couple, foreground right, rest their heads together as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg reads one of his newspapers during his subway ride to City Hall in New York. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 4, 1948, file photo, President Harry S. Truman at St. Louis' Union Station holds up an election day edition of the Chicago Daily Tribune, which - based on early results - mistakenly announced "Dewey Defeats Truman." (AP Photo/Byron Rollins)
FILE - In this Sunday, May 24, 1987 file photo, North Korean President Kim II Sung waves farewell to Chinese leaders in Beijing as he departs on a special train to the Chinese port city of Tianjin. During his four day visit to Beijing the North Korean leader met with all of Chinaís top leadership. (AP Photo/Neal Ulevich)
FILE - In this Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018 file photo, the flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush passes through Magnolia, Texas along the train route from Spring to College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, Pool)
FILE - In this Oct. 25, 1960 file photo, Vice President Richard Nixon works on a speech while riding a train during his campaign through Ohio. (AP Photo)
FILE - In this April 13, 1934 file photo, President Franklin D. Roosevelt smiles as he speaks to a Congressional welcoming committee which met him at Union Station on his return to Washington. (AP Photo)
FILE - In this May 23, 1939 file photo, Britain's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth smile as they stand at the rear of the Royal train as it pulls out of Quebec enroute to Montreal and the west coast of Canada. (AP Photo)
A sedan which is believed to carry North Korean leader Kim Jong Un leaves a train station with a convoy in Beijing Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. Kim's arrival in Beijing on Tuesday marked his sixth foreign visit in less than 10 months. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
FILE - In this March 9, 1979 file photo, U.S. President Jimmy Carter waves to crowds in Banha, Egypt, accompanied by President Anwar Sadat during their train trip from Cairo to Alexandria. (AP Photo)
A train similar to one seen during previous visits by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrives at Beijing Railway Station in Beijing, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. Kim's arrival in Beijing on Tuesday marked his sixth foreign visit in less than 10 months. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
FILE - In this Aug.10, 1944 file photo, with his right hand injured after an attempted assassination on July 20, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler, center, gives Italian dictator Benito Mussolini a left-handed shake as he leaves by train after a conference in Germany. At right is Foreign Minister Joachim Von Ribbentrop and Reich Marshal Herman Goering, second right. (AP Photo)
FILE - In this Thursday, April 29, 2004 file photo, Israeli President Moshe Katsav, right, participates in a memorial ceremony to honor the Jews who were deported from Germany during the Nazi era, at Berlin-Grunewald's train track 17 in Berlin. (AP Photo/Franka Bruns)

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