The most loved mode of travel still is the railways. Railroads are always the preferred mode of commuting for general public owing to the many positive points. Connectivity by railways facilitates speedy travel at relatively low cost. Many countries have extensive network of railways connecting remote towns and cities with one another. Some countries have advanced a lot with regards to rail commuting while some are on the verge of improvement. It is rather fascinating to witness how wide a train network can be. Often referred to as the life-line of the city, Rail roads have an important place in the whole transport network of a country. Presenting a list of the best rail networks in the world.
1. United States
U.S. railroads still play a major role in the nation’s freight shipping. They carried about 700 billion tonnes of goods in the 70’s and 80’s which doubled to 1.5 trillion ton-miles in 2005. The total ton-kilometer of freight that the United States accounted for is about 3000 billion as per recent data. The entire European Union moved only 238 billion ton-kilometers of freight. The railways are classified in three distinct categories judged on their annual revenues. Contrary to the 1900’s, today; as the result of mergers, bankruptcies, and major changes in the regulatory definition of the CLASS 1. There are only seven railroads operating in the United States that meet the criteria for Class I. As of 2006, U.S. freight railroads operated 100,000 route miles of standard gauge in the United States. There were only 33 regional railroads in 2006. Now there are more than 100. Most have between 75 and 500 employees.
Rail transport in Russia has been called an economic wonder owing to the splendid advancements that took place in the 20th and 21st century. In length of track Russian railroads are second globally to the railways of the United States. Russian Railways accounts for 2.5% of Russia’s GDP. The year 2007 itself accounted for about a billion passengers commuting and a lot of goods supplied via the Russian railways. A further 270,000 freight cars in Russia are privately owned. In 2009 Russia had 128,000 kilometers of common-carrier railroad line, of which about half is electrified and carries most of the traffic, over 40% was double track or better.
Like India, railways is the commonest commuting medium of the Chinese. By the end of 2010, the operating rail network traverses the length and breadth of the country, covering a total length of about 90,000 km making only the rail networks in the United States and Russia larger in size. However, China’s 961.23 billion passenger-km and 2,947 billion tonne-kilometers of freight (both as of 2011) exceeds respective volumes of the US and Russia and are the highest in the world. If we say on a global basis, China has the largest volume of rail transport having six percent of the world’s operating railways, but carrying 25 percent of the world’s total railway workload. Because of the increased investment in Chinese railways, the country’s railway network has grown from 78,000 km at the end of 2007 to 91,000 km at the end of 2010, and is expected to grow to 110,000 km by year end. Rail is one of the principal means of transport in China, with over a billion railway trips taken over the last few years and more than a 5 billion expected in the upcoming years.
India probably has the most intricate rail system connecting even the remotest villages and towns. Rail transport is a commonly used mode of long-distance transportation in India. Rail operations are handled by the state. The total railway network here accounts for about 65,000 kilometres spanned all over the country. Rail transport is responsible for transporting about 700 million passengers and over 900 million tonnes of freight annually, as of 2011. Its operations cover twenty eight states and three union territories and also provide limited service to Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Both passenger and freight traffic has seen steady growth, and as per the 2009 budget presented by the Railway Minister, the Indian Railways carried over 7 billion passengers in 2009. The Indian railways is also pursuing to build the highest railway track in the world overtaking current record of Beijing-Lhasa Railway line. Manipur to Vietnam rail is being considered was reported by Shashi Tharoor. Indian Railways and rail authorities in China are interested in starting a high-speed rail link that would link New Delhi with Kunming, China via Myanmar.
Canada has a very strong railway network which comprises the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railway. Nation-wide passenger services are provided by the federal crown corporation Via Rail. Canada has about 50,000 kilometer of total track coverage, of which only 129 kilometer is electrified. The first Canadian railway, the Champlain and Saint Lawrence Railroad, was opened in 1836 outside of Montreal. The Guarantee Act of 1849 guaranteed bond returns on all railways over 121 km was instrumental for the advancement of railways in Canada.
As per latest statistics, Germany has had a rail network of about 45,000 kms of which 19,857 km were electrified. Germany is a member of the International Union of Railways (UIC). Germany has special International high-speed trains which operate to and from Germany- RailJet connects Munich to Vienna, Salzburg (Austria) and Budapest (Hungary), Thalys links Cologne to Paris (France) and Brussels (Belgium), TGV connects Munich to Paris (France), ICE connects Frankfurt to Paris (France). Domestic high speed trains include ICE (InterCity Express) is the most popular train in Germany, connecting key cities. These high-speed trains travel at speeds of up to 200 mph.
Rail in Australia is to a large extent state-based. The Australian rail network consists of a total of about 40,000 km of track of three major track gauges, of which 2,940 km is electrified. Majority portion of the Australian railway network infrastructure is government-owned, either at the federal or state level. It also has a working relationship with Queensland Rail about the use of the 127 kilometers of standard gauge line between the Queensland border and Fisherman Island. The Great Southern railway operates three trains namely The Indian Pacific, The Ghan and The Overland.
Argentina transport network comprises about 47,000 km coverage by railways. The current railroad network is much much smaller than it used to be earlier. Buenos Aires City’s metropolitan rail system is the second most extensive in the Americas after New York’s commuter rail system, with about 259 stations, covering about 800 kilometers serving more than 445 million commuters annually in the Greater Buenos Aires region. Buenos Aires City’s commuter rail provides 1800 trains carrying over one million passengers each business day in the city. Its suburbs in Greater Buenos Aires and several far-reaching satellite towns.
9. South Africa
Railways comprises a major part of South Africa’s commuting. All major cities are connected by rail, and South Africa’s railway system is the most highly developed in Africa. Owing to the national highway coverage, long distance travel has been drastically reduced. While many commuters still use rail for their daily commute, nationally, only half of the nation’s 20,000 kilometers of track is being fully utilized, and some 35% of the nation’s track carries no activity or very low activity. South Africa has been behind in technology with regards to the coupling and braking systems. Most trains in South Africa continue to use vacuum braking inspite of the advancements on rail technology.
Rail transport in France is mostly operated by SNCF, which is the French national railway company. France has one of the biggest rail networks in Europe covering a distance of about 30,000 kilometers. In spite of this extensive network, the railway system is a small portion of total travel, accounting for less than 10% of passenger travel. Since 1981, the SNCF has operated the TGV service, a high-speed rail network which has been consistently expanded in subsequent years. The Reseau Ferre De commonly said as the RFD manages the French railway system and facilitates commercially viable 30,000 kilometers of which about 15,000 km is electrified.