Puneet Varma (Editor)

Longest trains

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Longest trains

The length of a train, including the longest trains, may be measured in number of wagons (for bulk loads such as coal and iron ore) or in metres for general freight. Train lengths and loads on electrified railways, especially lower voltage 3000 V DC and 1500 V DC, are limited by traction power considerations. Drawgear and couplings can be a limiting factor, tied in with curves, gradients and crossing loop lengths.


Conventional freight trains in the USA can average nearly 2,000 metres (6,600 ft). Freight trains with a total length of three or four times that average are possible with the advent of distributed power units, or additional locomotive engines between or behind long chains of freight cars (referred to as a "consist"). Power units enable much longer, heavier loads without the increased risks of derailing that stem from the stress of pulling very long chains of train-cars around curves.


  • Rail gauge: 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) except where shown.
  • Australia
  • Rio Tinto—29,500 tonnes of iron ore—2.4 km, three locomotives
  • BHP Billiton iron ore train has typically 268 cars and a train weight of 43,000 tonnes carrying 24,200 tonnes of iron ore, 2.8 km long, two SD70ACe locomotives at the head of the train and two remote controlled SD70ACe locomotives as mid-train helpers
  • BHP Billiton used to run iron ore trains of 336 car length, 44,500 tonnes of iron ore, over 3 km long, six to eight locomotives including intermediate remote unit. This operation modes seems to be ceased once the trunk line was fully double tracked in May 2011.
  • The record-breaking ore train from the same company, 682 cars and 7,300 m long, once carried 82,000 metric tons of ore for a total weight of the train, largest in the world, of 99734 tonnes. It was driven by eight locomotives distributed along its length to keep the couplings loads and curve performance controllable.
  • Leigh Creek coal—2.8 km, 161 wagons and 2 locomotives.
  • Cane tramway - 75 wagons (610 mm (2 ft) gauge)
  • Brazil
  • Carajás Railway 1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in) gauge iron ore typically 330-car trains, each 3 km long.
  • VLI 1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in) Grain with 160 Hopper or 80 Hopper+72 FTTs (for pulp transport) about 3.2 km (2 mile) long
  • China
  • Daqin Railway coal trains—20,000 t, 3.2 km, 210 wagons
  • Mauritania—3 km—iron ore from Zouérat—trains lurch violently when accelerating or braking
  • Indonesia (proposed)
  • Muara Wahau coal to Bengalon port — 2196 m
  • South Africa
  • Sishen–Saldanha railway line ore trains on 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) — 4100 m
  • General

  • 4200 m - Canada - double-stack container trains reaching 4200 m are regularly operated by Canadian National Railway system wide with distributed power diesel electric locomotives. General cargo trains are limited to 3700 m, and bulk trains are limited to 3000 m but up to 20,700 tons
  • 3658 m – United States - Trains are limited by air brake capability. electronically controlled pneumatic braked (180 wagons) – AAR Standard S-4200.
  • 1800 m – Australia—Parkes–Perth–Adelaide–Darwin—(limited by 1800 m crossing loops)
  • 1524 m - France - intermediate loco - trial
  • 1500 m – Australia—Adelaide–Melbourne–Sydney–Brisbane—(limited by 1500 m crossing loops; some loops to be extended to 1800 m)
  • 1500 m – UIC standard double length train
  • 1222 m - The Bangalore–Dharmavaram goods train (India)—The train runs between Bangalore and Dharmavaram almost every day. There is no stop for this train, and there is no railway station on this route which can accommodate the whole train on a single track or platform. So all the Superfast, Express trains including the longest passenger train the 31-coacher Gomti express is sent to the loop line.
  • Indian Railways term this as increased vehicle length (IVL). This reduces the traffic in this single-lined region; two goods train attached back to back, each train is led by two diesel electric locomotives.
  • 1000 m
  • the Netherlands–Germany—trial trains of this length
  • Saudi Arabia 1000 m double stack
  • 835 m—In Denmark and to Hamburg, Germany; 2 locos and 82 waggons.
  • 800 m—RVR in East Africa (Kenya–Uganda) to introduce longer trains, which needs longer crossing loops.
  • 750 m – Normal for mainlines in several countries in Europe.
  • 750 m – UIC standard single length train
  • 400 m – New South Wales steam era, where lengths also limited by practical length of crossing loops mechanically operated from signal boxes.
  • Passenger

  • Australia – up to 44 coaches (approximately 1.2 km) on The Ghan
  • Japan – Tōkaidō Shinkansen N700 16-car trainset 404 m
  • The Netherlands – up to 15 coaches (five 3-coach NS Intercity Materieel trains combined) – 403 m
  • Sweden – 17 coaches (26.7 m each plus two Rc locomotives at 15.4 m) – 484 m between Stockholm and Luleå. Sometimes charter trains are longer than that, e.g. 22 coaches, 530 m on 24–25 February 2012.
  • Denmark – five ER ("IR4") electrical train sets combined – 380 m
  • Germany – two ICE 3 trains combined – 402 m
  • German Democratic Republic – up to 22 cars Berlin–Dresden (– Prague) ca. 500 m
  • France – two TGV Atlantique trains combined – 476 m
  • United Kingdom, Belgium, France – Eurostar / British Rail Class 373 (20-car multiple unit) – 394 m
  • United States — Auto Train between Lorton, Virginia, and Sanford, Florida — up to 50 cars. 4 or 5 coaches, 1 lounge, 3 diners, 6 sleepers, one transition sleeper and up to 35 autoracks.
  • United States – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus trains – longest privately operated passenger trains in the world at nearly sixty cars each. Two trains, the Red unit and the Blue unit, tour the country in an overlapping two-year cycle. Each circus train consists of around 40–45 passenger cars with dorm rooms for the circus performers and crews, four animal cars usually placed at the front of the train for a smoother ride, a dining car referred to as the "pie car", a generator car to provide power to the train, two merchandise boxcars and 15–20 flatcars carrying circus vehicles and containers.
  • India – 24-coach trains are standard for most popular long distance services, which translates to approximately 600 meters per train.
  • Canada – The Canadian transcontinental train may have 33 cars during peak season (May to September)
  • USSR/Russia – 32 coaches – 846 m; total weight of 1,920 tonnes, using locomotive ChS7 or ChS8.
  • Indonesia:
    1. Kertajaya economy service between Surabaya and Jakarta, and Tawang Jaya economy service between Semarang and Jakarta – 17 coaches in testing, shortened to 16 coaches in operation – total length of 320 m, total weight of approximately 480 tons, using a single GE CM20EMP engine.
    2. KA Commuter Jabodetabek – 12-car trainsets operated in Bogor Line and Bekasi Line, using former JR East Nambu Line and Yokohama Line 205 series electric multiple units – total length of 240 m

    The length of passenger trains generally has to match the length of platforms, especially high-level platforms. These platforms cannot always be extended to suit extended train lengths due to bridges, tunnels, pointwork, narrowing track centers and stabling yards, though "selective door opening" can help long trains stop at short platforms.

    Special test runs

    (These are one-off to set records)

    Bulk (ore, coal etc)

  • BHP Run on 21 June 2001, comprising 682 wagons and hauled by eight 6000 hp General Electric AC6000CW diesel-electric locomotives controlled by a single driver with a total length of 7.353 km on the 275 km iron ore railway to Port Hedland in Western Australia – total weight 99,734 tons
  • Sishen–Saldanha, South Africa. Run on 26–27 August 1989, comprising 660 wagons, 7.302 kilometres (4.537 mi) long and a total weight of 71 765 tons. The train comprised 16 locomotives (9 Class 9E 50 kV AC electric and 7 Class 37 diesel-electric).
  • Bulk coal train from Ekibastuz to the Urals, Soviet Union, 20 February 1986. The train consisted of 439 wagons and several diesel locomotives distributed along the train with a total mass of 43,400 tonnes and a total length of 6.5 kilometres (4.0 mi).
  • General cargo

  • Union Pacific, United States. Run from 8–10 January 2010, consisting of 296 container cars and hauled by nine diesel-electric locomotive spread through the train with a total length of 18,000 feet (3.4 mi; 5.5 km), from a terminal in Texas to Los Angeles. Around 618 double-stacked containers were carried at speeds up to 70 mph/112 km/h. 14,059 t.
  • BNSF, United States, 2010—12,832 feet (2.4303 mi; 3.911 km)
  • Passenger

  • Kijfhoek–Breda, Netherlands. Run on 19 February 1989, as a test and publicity stunt what would become the longest passenger train in the world. The train was pulled by one 1500 V DC locomotive and had 60 passenger cars, of which only the first 14 cars held actual passengers during the run.
  • Ghent–Oostende, Belgium. On 27 April 1991, one electric locomotive and 70 passenger cars (totalling 1733 m and 2786 ton, excluding locomotive) held a charity run for the Belgian Cancer Fund, thereby exceeding the Dutch record.
  • References

    Longest trains Wikipedia

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