Sep 10, 2013

Top 10 global rail networks

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4 min
Intermodal network
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Many countries are proud of their extensive rail networks in terms of efficiency and optimisation across both passenger and freight industries. On a more generic scale though, it is still the biggest countries with seemingly the most potential for a globally dominant intermodal network.

(Results are of railway length across each entire country in kilometres)

10. Brazil

28,538km

At number 10, Brazil represents South America’s second biggest network and epitomises this statistic with extensive links between its vast country and neighbouring countries, Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay.

Connecting the continent has been pivotal in optimising trade and freight arrangements between the core South American nations, especially in regards to the agricultural sector.

9. France

29,640km

Despite the rail freight industry deteriorating over the past 20 years, there is still plenty of scope for the European country to revive said operations once the economy stabilises.

Since 2007, the network has been under EU jurisdiction, accepting all agreements under the governing body to conform to continent-wide connections.

8. Argentina

36,966km

In 2012 the government in Argentina announced that it was renationalising large parts of the freight industry across the country, in-keeping with the wider rail system for passenger services.

With Buenos Aries at the core of the entire network, the country’s network is widely regarded as one of the most sophisticated for commuters and freight looks set to follow that trend.

7. Australia

38,445km

Pacific National, QR National and Genesee and Wyoming Australia are the three main rail freight network operators who make up the majority of the nearly-40,000km extent of tracks in Australia.

The latter owns nearly 5,000km of that figure, including the pivotal Tarcoola-to-Darwin railway, in a country that depends on its rail provisions across such a vast landscape.

6. Germany

41,981km

Carrying more than 415 million tonnes via Deutsche Bahn alone, Germany’s trademark rail company dominates the entire chain of routes around the country, from both a commuter and freight perspective.

Known for its efficiency, Deutsche Bahn is also a key operator in Europe as a whole, connecting countries from its central location.

5. Canada

46,552km

The first of only two privatised rail networks in the world, Canada’s system operates in a similar fashion to Australia’s with a relatively small population-to-network ratio.

This makes the network prime for freight operations via the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railway lines which cross much of the beautiful North American terrain.

4. India

65,000km

In stark contrast to Canada, the 65,000km of network in India is the most congested on a population scale with nearly 19,000 people living per kilometre of track.

Despite this though, the country’s lines still transport an incredible 921 million tonnes of freight per annum, covering the whole country as well as venturing into Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

3. Russia

87,157km

Labelled as an economic wonder of the 19th, 20th and 21st Centuries, Russia’s rail network is hot on the tails of numbers one and two in this countdown.

The extent of its network shouldn’t come as a surprise though, with the length of the country covering massive areas of the globe above Europe and Asia; the average haulage length sitting second in the world.

2. China

98,000km

The huge amounts of investment to increase the network in China over recent years was a consequence of a need to increase freight capacity in the country, with its passenger system already among the most comprehensive globally.

Similarly to Russia, the country’s vast amounts of space is largely responsible for rail being the number one mode of domestic transport in the country.

1. USA

224,792km

Operating in a similar fashion to Canada’s network, the USA’s rail system is the only other privatised network in this countdown and again, consists mostly of freight shipments rather than passenger services.

Continuously under pressure from other modes of transport, the commuter world seems to have left the old-timer behind but in supply-chain terms, the US’s rail network is still kilometers ahead of the rest of the world.

Boasting the longest average haul of any country, even ahead of Russia, America’s domestic routes extensively cover all states, and many operate on countrywide voyages.

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