The Longest Trains In The World

The Barnum and Bailey and Ringling Bros Circus trains are the longest trains in America. Editorial credit: EQRoy /
The Barnum and Bailey and Ringling Bros Circus trains are the longest trains in America. Editorial credit: EQRoy /

The length of all trains, including the longest train, is measured either in meters for the general freights or the number of wagons for the trains carrying various loads like iron ore and coal. In fact, train loads and lengths on electrified railways are restricted by traction power consideration. Couplings and draw-gear can also be restricting factors when tied in with gradients, crossing loop lengths, and curves.

Structure of Long Trains

The normal freight trains in the US can average approximately 6,600 ft. Longer trains can be created with the help of distributed power units, which can easily stretch the length of the train up to four times the average length, reaching 26,400 ft. The benefit of using the distributed power lines is that they make it possible for the train to pull heavier loads across the country without the train being derailed by the stress of pulling the long chains of train-cars.

Which Are the Longest Passenger Trains in the World?

The Ghan (Australia)

This passenger train is the only train which runs between Darwin and Adelaide in Australia, covering a distance of 1,851 miles in about 54 hours. The entire train pulls an average of 26 carriages, which are made of steel, but it once pulled 99 carriages which add up to about 3,934 feet long. This train is named after the camel drivers from Afghanistan who came to Australia during the late 1800s.

Tokaido Shinkansen N700 (Japan)

This train operates on the Tokaido Shinkansen line which is a high-speed railway line operated by the JR Central (Central Japan Railway Company). This route was officially opened in 1964, and it operates from Tokyo to Osaka. This high-speed train has 16 car train-set which make the total length of the train about 1,325 feet long.

SJ Class Rc (Sweden)

This train is the most widely used electric train in Sweden. The Rc is actually a universal train which is used as either a passenger or freight train. These locomotives were first introduced in Sweden in 1967 to replace the Ra locomotives which were used during the 1950s. The longest Rc train can pull an average of 17 coaches, but in February 24-25, 2012 this locomotive pulled 22 coaches and it was over 1,738 feet.

Barnum and Bailey and Ringling Bros Circus Trains (US)

Other than the auto train which operates between Florida, Virginia, Sanford, and Lorton and has over 50 cars, the longest train in America is the Barnum and Bailey and Ringling Bros Circus trains. These are the longest privately-owned trains in the world. These circus trains have about 60 cars and tour the United States in over-lapping 2 year cycles.

Sapsan Trains (Russia)

The Sapsan train is the Russian gauge-high speed electric train which operates between Moscow and Saint Petersburg. This electric train was launched in December 2009 at a high speed of 155 mph, and is approximately 1640 feet long.

Other Countries

In India, it is standard for long distance trains to have more than 24 coaches which translate to around 1,969 ft per train. Germany has two ICE-3 trains which are 1,319 ft long, and the German Democratic Republic serving between Berlin and Dresden is 1,640 ft long.

Which Are the Longest Bulk Trains in the World?

BHT Billion Trains (Australia)

BHT Billion is an angio-Australian multinational mining company which majors in mining petroleum and metals in Australia. The company has a long train which has 268 cars and weighs 43,000 tons, and can carry 24,200 tons from the mines. This train is composed of two SD70Ace locomotives at the train’s head and two more remote controlled locomotives located in the middle as helpers. Previously the company ran various trains which had 336 cars and were 9,843 feet long. This train could carry 44,400 tons of iron ore. The longest record-breaking train from BHT was 23,950 feet long with 682 cars. This record breaking train once carried 82,000 metric tons, which was the heaviest in the world, plus the weight of the train, weighing in at 99,734 metric tons. This train was powered by 8 locomotives which were distributed along the train to keep the curve performance and coupling loads controllable

Rio Tinto Trains (Australia)

The Rio Tinto rail network, servicing 15 mines, is Australia's largest privately-owned rail network. Rio Tinto has three long trains for carrying ore from their mines. The trains are 7,874 feet long and can carry more than 29,500 tons.

Daqin Railway Trains (China)

Located in China, this is the longest transporting railway line in North China. Daqin is named after the two terminal cities, Datong and Qinhuangdao. The longest iron ore trains in China are the Daqin railway trains and they have about 210 wagons with a length of 10,499 feet. These trains carry coal from the mines in Datong the mining center to Qinhuangdao.

Carajas Railway Trains (Brazil)

Owned by Vale, a Brazilian multinational corporation which engages in mining metals, Carajas railway trains is one of the longest bulk trains in Brazil. Their trains are about 9,843 feet long with about 330 cars.

Sishen-Saidanha Railway Trains (South Africa)

Located in South Africa, Sishen-Saidanha railway line is the longest ore export line in Africa. This export line has some of the longest trains in Africa at 13,451 ft long. This ore export line is 535 miles long and it connects the mines surrounding Shishen with the port located at Saidanha Bay on the Western Cape.

Which Are the Longest General Cargo Trains in the World?

Union Pacific Trains (US)

The Union Pacific railroad is the largest rail-road system in the US and operates approximately 8,500 locomotives in more than 23 states and in excess of 32,000 routes. It is one of the world’s largest companies. As of 2010, one of its longest trains pulled 296 container cars. This train is towed by 9 diesel-electric locomotives which are spread throughout the train with a length of 18,000 feet. The train carried about 618 double-stacked containers.


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