Beyond the Size

Riding the Rails: Exploring the World’s Longest Railway Networks

Rail transport has come a long way since Richard Trevithick’s first locomotive in 1804. Today, rail transport is used for freight, as well as for passenger transportation, and is a major mode of transportation across the globe.

In this article, we will explore the history and current state of rail transport, as well as discuss the longest railways in the world. History and Current State of Rail Transport:

Richard Trevithick and the First Locomotive

In 1804, Richard Trevithick developed the first locomotive. This steam engine locomotive was capable of hauling 10 tons of iron, 70 passengers, and traveled at a speed of 5 miles per hour.

Richard’s invention constituted the birth of rail transport.

Evolution of Rail Transport Technology

Throughout the years, steam engines have developed, and electric rail has been created. Steam engines were initially used for cargo haulage, but with the invention of the electric rail, it soon became popular for passenger transportation as well.

Relevance of Rail Transport Today

Rail transport remains a significant mode of transportation today. It can transport cargo with high capacity, making it an efficient way to move goods.

Furthermore, rail transport platforms are known for their reliability, even in extreme weather conditions.

Railway Track Technologies

In the United States, the Standard Gauge Rail is the standard railway track size. In other parts of the world, such as India, a meter gauge rail is a popular choice.

A meter gauge rail has a width of exactly one meter. The Longest Railways in the World:

Trans-Siberian Railway


Trans-Siberian Railway is the longest railway track in the world, going from Moscow to Vladivostok, and covering a distance of 9,289 kilometers. The railway was constructed between 1891 and 1916, and it has since become an essential transport network, especially for cargo transport.

Kislovodsk-Tynda Railway


Kislovodsk-Tynda Railway is notable for being the longest railway track in Russia, spanning over 4000 km. It covers the distance between Kislovodsk and Tynda, the railway line connecting Moscow and the Pacific Ocean.

Moscow-Neryungri Railway


Moscow-Neryungri Railway is another notable railway track in Russia, covering a distance of 4,218 km. It is the longest railway line that connects Moscow to Neryungri, located in the Sakha Republic, which has significant deposits of coal and other minerals.

China Railways (8 railway lines)

China Railways has eight significant railway lines, each with a vastly different route and purposeful destination. Among these railways is the Guangzhou-Lhasa railway, which is 1,956 kilometers long, and spans from Guangzhou to Lhasa.

Another major railway line of China Railways is the Shanghai-Yining railway, which goes from Shanghai to Yining and is 4,833 kilometers long.

Toronto-Vancouver Railway

In Canada, the

Toronto-Vancouver Railway is one of the most significant rail lines. It spans over 4,400 km and is operated by Via Rail, covering the country from Toronto to Vancouver.

The railway is serviced by The Canadian, a train that offers luxury service to its passengers.

Chicago-Los Angeles Railway

In the United States, the Chicago-Los Angeles railway covers the distance between Chicago and Los Angeles, spanned over 2,265 miles, and is operated by Amtrak, which is also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corporation. This route is serviced by three trains of Amtrak.


With the long-established history of rail transport and the ever-advancing technologies, rail transport remains an essential mode of transportation. The longest railways in the world offer an opportunity to view some of the world’s most remote locations while traveling in the comfort of trains offering their passengers exceptional levels of comfort and services.

The railways have played a predominant role in the economic growth of several countries and will continue to do so for years to come. The Longest Railway Network by Country:

Railways are a critical part of any country’s infrastructure.

They are essential for the movement of people and goods and are responsible for shaping the economic landscape of countries. In this article, we explore the longest railway network by country, including the United States of America, China, Russia, and India.

United States of America:

The United States of America is home to the longest railway track network in the world. The railway network in the United States spans over 225,000 km in length.

Rail transport is vital for freight transportation in the United States, with freight trains transporting essential commodities such as chemicals, petroleum products, and coal across the country. Amtrak provides inter-city passenger transportation across the United States, with routes that connect various states.

Amtrak’s passenger train network is over 34,000 km in length, providing service to over 500 stations across America. Amtrak is known for its scenic routes, such as the Coast Starlight, which runs from Seattle, Washington, to Los Angeles, California.


China has the world’s second-longest railway network, with an extensive network of both conventional lines and high-speed rail. China’s railway network is over 139,000 km in length, covering almost every part of the country.

China’s high-speed rail network is the largest in the world, spanning over 31,000 km. This high-speed rail network is known for covering vast distances in very little time, and has put China on the map as the leader in high-speed rail infrastructure.

The high-speed network has boosted the country’s economy by creating new opportunities for business, travel, and tourism. China’s railways have seen significant growth in the passenger numbers, with over 3.8 billion passenger trips made by railway, in 2020 alone.

Infrastructure developments such as the Beijing-Guangzhou railway have played a crucial role in facilitating economic growth in China, allowing the transportation of goods more efficiently and cost-effectively. Russia:

Russia has a vast railway network, covering over 85,000 km.

Rail transport is the preferred mode of transportation in Russia, due to the country’s harsh geography and poor road conditions. The long winters in Russia make it impossible for roads to be used during this time, making rail the only viable transportation option.

Russia’s rail network plays a significant role in facilitating industrial activities such as mining, lumbering, coke production, and the transportation of coal. The railway network offers significant freight-hauling capabilities, with approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of goods transported annually.


The Indian Railways is the world’s fourth-largest railway network, spanning over 67,300 km in length. It is the primary mode of transportation in India, with an impressive 23 million passengers and 3 million tonnes of freight transported daily.

Diesel-powered locomotives dominate the Indian Railways, with a gradual shift towards electric-powered locomotives. The electrification of the railways in India has been reported to provide cost savings and a lower environmental impact, with research suggesting that the electrification of 90% of India’s railways has the potential to save between $2.7 billion to $6.3 billion per year in fuel costs.

The Indian Railways are often compared to a moving city, providing essential services to passengers, such as food, water, and hygiene. The railways in India have become a part of the country’s national heritage, providing travelers with a unique and unforgettable experience of exploring the vast and diverse country.


Rail transport plays a crucial role in developing infrastructure, creating jobs, and driving economic growth. The longest railway networks by country include the United States of America, China, Russia, and India, all of which have contributed significantly to their respective economies.

With developing technologies and an ever-increasing need for efficient transport options, the future of rail infrastructure looks promising for countries around the world. In conclusion, rail transport has been a significant mode of transportation for centuries and has played a critical role in the economic growth of countries worldwide.

From Richard Trevithick’s first locomotive to the longest railway networks in the world, rail transport has evolved to become more advanced and efficient over time. The development of railway networks has facilitated industrial activities, boosted the economy, and provided exciting travel experiences for passengers.


1. What is the longest railway network in the world?

The United States of America has the longest railway track network in the world. 2.

What are the benefits of rail transport? Rail transport offers high capacity, reliability, and energy efficiency, making it an efficient mode of transport for both passengers and cargo.

3. Which country has the largest high-speed rail network in the world?

China has the largest high-speed rail network in the world, spanning over 31,000 km. 4.

Why does Russia prefer rail transport over other modes of transportation? Russia’s harsh geography and long winters make it impossible for roads to be used during this time, making rail the only viable transportation option.

5. What is the future of rail transport?

The future of rail transport looks promising, with developing technologies and an increasing need for efficient transportation options. The focus is on implementing more sustainable and clean energy sources to power rail transport, improving safety, and increasing capacity.

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