Getting to know more about trains

Trains are a mean of transportation that have been around since the 18th century, when initially pulled by horses, were gravity powered or rope-hauled. They have since then evolved quite a bit and become an important way to transport not only passengers, but also freight cargo. There are different types as well, such as: motive power, passenger trains, high speed rail, double deck passenger train like the maglev for example, commuter trains for short distances, tram, monorail, among others. Each train has a purpose and specific characteristics that allow it to carry out a task in the city or region it’s located in. 

Steam train

Image courtesy of pero belobrajdic at

Trains and rails have affected how we do things in many ways. For example, the United States adopted standardized time zones thanks to all major U.S. Railways in 1883. They proposed that across America there be five time zones: Pacific, Eastern, Central, Mountain and Atlantic. So, at noon on November 18th, all of the clocks across the United State’s railways were calibrated and set at 12:00 pm ET, depending on their zone. Despite this, it wasn’t adopted officially until 1918, when Congress passed legislation. Still, railways made their contribution and like this appear all through history.

There are little known facts about trains, especially in Japan. There is a station that opens only twice a year, due to their Summer Festival. Even though, Japan is known for having the world’s busiest stations, it actually made the Guinness Book of World Records, with over 3 million people in one station in one day. If you think that’s amazing, it actually turns out that out of the 50 busiest stations in the world Japan has 45 of them, including the top 5. They also have the world’s longest suspended monorail with 15.2 kilometers and 18 stations. With the amount of people riding on their trains there is no surprise they need some extra help, so in Japan they have “pushers”, which literally push the passengers into the train cars during rush hour.

Nebraska Zephyr, train of the goddesses

Image courtesy of Don Harder at

Now, taking a closer look at the types of trains starting with passenger trains. The High Speed rail normally run above 200 km/h and have special tracks designed for their speed. The fastest wheeled version of this train is in France achieving a speed of 574.8 km/h (357.2 mph) during a test run. During operation, it has been 350 km/h (220 mph), although the average speed has been of 300 km/h (190 mph) in most renowned high-speed trains. They are so fast that they could even be considered competition in terms of cost and time for air travel, if the distances are less than 500 to 600 km.

There are also double-deck passenger trains, which come in a few different types of rails and engine types. The Maglev, or magnetic levitation system, operates at about 430 km/h (270 mph). By levitating the train with magnets, it reduces the friction normally seen in trains and allows for higher speeds. Passenger trains can normally be divided into three categories: inter-city, fast trains, and regional trains. Inter-city trains connect cities in the fastest possible time bypassing all intermediate stops. Fast trains normally stop at longer intermediate stations between cities. Regional trains, on the other hand, stop at all intermediate stations between cities.

Short-distance trains such as commuter trains that serve as inner city transport and usually have networks of commute trains going to different destinations. Some of these trains may be double-deckers and may even have sleeper trains. Long-distance trains could be trams, light rails and monorails. Many other types of trains that are used in specific scenarios like airports, mine and overland, used for cargo on rough terrains. But at the end of the day all trains help us to carry cargo and passengers from one location to another at a faster speed than buses and cars and at a less expensive cost than air travel.

Some trains have become famous just to mention a few we have the Trans-Siberian Express travels between Moscow and Vladivostok with 91 stations covering 5,778 miles. During the Civil War it was known for exposing all passengers to Stalinist propaganda in the compartments. The Blue Train has operated since 1939 in Africa from Cape Town to Pretoria offering a luxury ride and updating it televisions and phones in the 1990s. Its name comes from the color of its railroad cars, locomotives and leather seats. In Australia the Indian Pacific connects the east and west coast travelling from Sydney to Perth, covering 2,461 miles, in three days. It’s known for having the longest stretch of straight track in the world with 297 miles.

All in all trains come in all shapes and sizes. As the years pass they have become more technological and are in constant research to make a faster and more affordable way of traveling between cities and even countries.