11 Longest Railway Network in the World

Longest Railway Network
Image credit: Pixabay (https://pixabay.com/photos/abandoned-railway-bridge-castleford-4181198/)

The longest railway network in the world list is based on data from the International Union of Railways and updated with additional reputable sources at the end of the year.  

These figures also include public transportation networks in cities and suburbs and lines not used for passenger service. 

Table of Contents

1. United States (250,000KM)

The US rail network is the largest, with a total operating route length of over 250,000 kilometers. The freight network accounts for over 80% of the country’s entire rail network, while the passenger network covers about 35,000 kilometers.  

Furthermore, the US freight rail network comprises 538 private railroads, and the Union Pacific Railroad and the BNSF Railway are two of the world’s largest freight railroad networks. Amtrak is a national passenger rail network that connects 500 destinations throughout 46 American states with more than 30 train lines. 

2. China (124,000KM)

China’s rail network is the second longest railway network in the world, with a total length of nearly 124,000 kilometers.

In 2013, China Railway Corporation’s massive network handled 2.08 billion people and 3.22 billion tonnes of freight (second only to the US railway network). By 2050, the country’s overall rail network will exceed 270,000 kilometers.  

Furthermore, in China, rail is the primary form of transportation. Over 90,000 kilometers of conventional train networks and approximately 10,000 kilometers of high-speed lines make up the country’s rail network. By 2050, the country’s overall rail network will exceed 270,000 kilometers. 

3. Russia (85,500KM)

Russian Railways (RZD), a state-owned company, operates the whole network, spanning over 85,500 kilometers.

In 2013, the network handled 1.08 billion people and 1.2 billion tonnes of freight, putting it in third place after the United States and China in terms of freight volume.  

Additionally, the Russian railway system consists of 12 main lines. Many direct connections to national railway networks in Europe and Asia, including Finland, France, Germany, Poland, China, Mongolia, and North Korea.  

Furthermore, the Trans-Siberian Railway (the Moscow-Vladivostok line) is the world’s longest and busiest railway line, spanning 9,289 kilometers.  

In addition, The Sapsan high-speed rail service between St. Petersburg and Moscow was launched by RZD in 2009. However, it has not been successful due to existing routes being shared with low-speed train operations. 

A $35 billion investment has been suggested for a dedicated high-speed link between the two cities. By 2015, RZD intends to have 2,500 kilometers of high-speed rail running between Moscow and Kyiv, Minsk, and Kursk. 

4. India (65,000KM)

Indian Railways owns and operates the fourth longest railway network in the world, which spans more than 65,000 kilometers and is owned and administered by the Indian government.  

Additionally, in 2013, the network carried approximately eight billion people (the world’s highest) and 1.01 million tonnes of freight (the fourth highest).

Furthermore, the  Indian railway system is organized into 17 zones and runs around 19,000 trains every day it has 12,000 passenger trains and 7,000 freight trains.  

In addition, by 2017, the national railway operator intends to construct 4,000 kilometers of new track and many gauge conversions, doubling and electrification of its aging lines. 

5. Canada (48,000KM)

Canada’s national rail network is the fifth-longest in the world, with 48,000 kilometers of track. The two primary freight rail networks in the country are the Canadian National Railway (CN) and the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR).  

At the same time, Via Rail provides the 12,500-kilometer intercity passenger rail service. Furthermore, other miniature railways that provide passenger service to select rural areas of the country include Algoma Central Railway and Ontario Northland Railway. 

6. Germany (41,000KM)

Deutsche Bahn, a state-owned company, dominates Germany’s 41,000-kilometer railway network, accounting for over 80% of total freight traffic and 100% of long-distance passenger traffic.  

More than 150 other railway companies operate on the network apart from Deutsche Bahn, offering regional passenger and freight services.

However, after Deutsche Bahn, the S-Bahn services large suburban areas. And also, the Hamburg Cologne Express (HKX) is the principal long-distance passenger operator.  

In addition, As of mid-2013, the German railway network had more than 1,300 kilometers of high-speed track in operation and more than 400 kilometers of new high-speed track under development.

In 1991, Deutsche Bahn introduced high-speed services under the moniker InterCity Express (ICE). 

7. Australia (40,000KM)

With more than 40,000 kilometers of track, Australia’s railway network is the Seventh longest railway network in the world.  

Either at the federal or state level, the Australian government owns and maintains most railway network infrastructure. On the other hand, private businesses run the majority of the trains on the network. 

8. Argentina (36,000KM)

Argentina’s present rail network spans over 36,000 kilometers and is the world’s ninth-largest. At the end of WWII, Argentina had roughly 47,000 kilometers of the rail network, operated mainly by British and French railway firms.  

However, as profitability declined and highway construction increased in the following decades, the network was reduced to 36,000 km of line. With the establishment of the state railroad firm Ferrocarriles Argentinos in 1948, the railway companies operating on the web were nationalized.  

Between 1992 and 1995, the Argentine railway was privatized, with different private corporations granted concessions to operate six divisions of the formerly state-owned rail network. 

9. South Africa (31,000KM)

South Africa’s overall network length is 31,000 kilometers. There are some luxury trains in South Africa, and the Blue Train is one of the most well-known. Between Cape Town and Johannesburg, the train runs. 

 In addition, the country has envisioned a high-speed rail network, but construction has yet to commence. The government has one of the world’s best networks. 

10. France (29,000KM)

The French railway network is the second largest in Europe and the ninth-largest in the world, with a total length of 29,000 kilometers.

Furthermore, the French railway network is primarily designed for passengers, with more than half of the country’s lines being electrified.  

The country’s main railway operator is the state-owned Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français (SNCF). Additionally, Train à Grande Vitesse (TGV) is the name given to the country’s high-speed, long-distance passenger services.  

In contrast, Intercités is the name given to the country’s ordinary long-distance passenger services. Transport Express Régional is the name given to short and medium-distance passenger train services (TER). 

11. Brazil (28,000KM)

The eleventh longest railway network in the world is the Brazil rail network. In 1984, Brazil’s first railway line went into service. With the formation of Rede Ferroviária Federal Sociedade Anônima in 1957, the railway network was nationalized (RFFSA).  

By 2007, the country’s railway network had been separated into various services run by multiple commercial and public operators.

Furthermore, the 28,000-kilometer network is primarily used for freight and contains important iron ore rail lines.  

Again, Passenger rail services in the country are centered mainly in urban and suburban areas. Additionally, there are metro systems in eight Brazilian cities, with the So Paulo Metro being the largest. 

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