The Longest Trains in the World
High durability of the track network, modularity of the wagons, and the
ability to use more than one locomotives to haul much larger weights
enabled trains to become very long during late 20th and early 21st century.
Before that time the trains were mostly limited by the power of a single
locomotive and configurations of the train network (road crossing
frequencies, distances between track switching points and more. The first
longer trains started appearing when train managers started combining two
regular trains into one, giving the entire train structure a power boost by
placing 2nd locomotive in the middle of wagons. Later large haul trains
were powered by mighty diesel-electric locomotives with their power going
all the way up to 6000 bhp and even beyond.
The lists of longest trains can be separated into several categories that
take into the account the specific records that were broken. Passenger
trains mostly have only passenger carriages, but they can have other car
types such as car-cargo. General freight trains mix their car configuration
by need, often focusing on single or double-stacked container cars. Bulk
freight train cargo trains carry only a single product in incredible
quantities, often using several powerful locomotives to drive hundreds of
Longest passenger trains allowed by country
Australia has a rich history of long trains used for massive bulk
transport, general cargo, and the passengers. The size limit on
Australian trains was set by the longest size of their famous train The Ghan which started operating in 1929 between
Adelaide of South Australia and Darwin of Northern Territory on the
track that is 2,979 kilometers long. It continues to run even today. At
its largest size, it reached the length of almost 1.2 km, pulling up to
44 passenger carriages. On most runs across the Australia, it pulls
between 16 and 26 carriages.
Russia has a 32-car passenger train that is 846 meters long!
Most of the long-distance passenger trains in India are around 600
meters long, consisting of around 24 coach cars.
Sweden's longest passenger train reached the length of 530 meters,
achieved with more than 20 coaches and two locomotives. However, the
most common large passenger runs consist from 17 carriages and two
France's largest train is 476 meters long. It was created by joining
two TGV Atlantique trains together.
Japan's longest passenger train is Tōkaidō Shinkansen N700 on the route
between Tokyo and Osaka. This 17 carriage train is 404 meters long.
The Netherlands has a 403 m long 15 coaches train in service that was
created by stitching together five smaller NS Intercity Materieel
Germany's largest passenger train is also created by joining of trains.
In this case, it was two ICE3 trains for the total length of 403 m.
European “Eurostar” train that travels between UK and France is 394m
long. It has 20 carriages, but not all of them are for passengers.
Famous American “Auto Train” enables passengers to sleep either in
normal travel carriages or to sleep in their cars that are loaded into
special car freight wagons that consist of so-called “autoracks”
modules. The carrying capacity of this train is 320 cars.
Some of the most famous trains in the United States are owned by the
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus company that was founded
in 1919. Gear and manpower for their shows are carried by two very
large trains called “Blue Tour” and the “Red Tour”. Both of them have
40 passenger cars and 20 freight ones.
At the peak of a travel season, transcontinental train route in Canada
carries train that has 32 passenger cars.
Single run charity train from Belgium has moved 70 passenger cars with
a single electric locomotive in 1991. Its total length was impressive
Longest general cargo freight trains
Canada's maximum allowed length for general cargo freight train is 3700
meters, although some runs are still operated with 4200 meter long
trains that pull double-stack container cars.
The United States has set their limit on the length of freight trains
on 3658m, which was done because of the limits of the air brake
technology. However, one special run on Union Pacific railway consisted
of 296 container cars that were pulled by nine locomotives. The total
length of that train was impressive 5.5 kilometers (3.4 miles).
Australia's general freight trains are between 1500 and 1800 meters
long, depending on the part of rail network they are traveling on.
The India’s largest freight train travels between
Bangalore–Dharmavaram. It is 1222 meters long, and it is on the move
every day on its own dedicated single rail track relation.
France has a freight train that reaches the length of 1524 meters.
Saudi Arabia, Netherlands, and Germany have freight trains that are 1
km in length.
Many of the freight trains in Europe reach the length of 750 meters.
New South Wales has imposed limits on a length of cargo trains because
of the configuration of their rail network that goes all the way back
to the age of steam trains. The distances between crossing loops are
the main factor for such limits.
Longest bulk freight trains
Australia is the home of the longest bulk freight trains. Common
transport of BHP Billiton iron ore is done on 2.4 km long trains that
have 264 cars and four locomotives. Special runs are larger, with the
longest one being the run on 21 June 2001 that consisted of the eight
locomotives, 682 wagons, and a single train driver. The entire train
was impressive 7300 meters long!
Brazil's freight trains go up to 3.2 km in size. They operate on the
Carajás Railway and usually carry iron ore and pulp.
China has bulk freight trains that usually go up to 3.2 km in size.
3km long trains that transport iron ore can be seen operating in
The majority of bulk freight trains in Russia are few kilometers in
length, but the record holder transported coal in 1986 on a run that
moved 439 cars. That train was impressive 6500 meters long.
South African iron ore trains that run on Sishen–Saldanha railway is
usually up to 4100 meters long. A special run in 1989 involved train
that was 7302 meters long. Its six locomotives pushed over 71 thousand
tons of weight.