The scene is fairly certainly identifiable as Maidenhead railway bridge, which spans the Thames between Taplow and Maidenhead. The bridge, designed by the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel and completed in 1839, has two main arches of brick, very wide and flat. The view is to the east, towards London.
On the left people are boating on the river, while to the right a ploughman works on a field. The tranquility of these traditional activities contrasts with the steam train rushing towards the viewer, the stark outline of its black funnel clearly visible. In front of the train a hare, one of the speediest of animals, dashes for cover.
Turner’s picture can be associated with the ‚railway mania’ which swept across England in the 1840s. It is also an outstanding example of his late style of painting. Sky and river landscape are dissolved in a haze of freely applied oil paint, to give a striking impression of the contrasting movement of driving rain and speeding train.