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 freight cars.

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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 locomotives.
  • 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 trains).
  • 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 1733 meters.

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 Mauritania.
  • 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.
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Long Train Chile
Long Train Alaska