Essay on Railway Patterns of the World

Although it is impossible to describe al the world’s railway systems in detail, a brief review on a continental basis is of interest.

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It was the home of the first railways and the new form of transport soon spread to continental Europe.

i. The great rate of economic and industrial development and the efficiency of railways when compared with other available forms of transport at the time led to the development of a very dense network often linking quite small settlements.

ii. There are approximately 440 000 km (275,000 miles) of railways, most of which are double- tracked or multiple-tracked and on the standard gauge.

iii. The trains usually run at high speed and services are frequent.


iv. The railways radiate from the main cities, e.g., Paris, Berlin, London, Brussels, Milan, Warsaw and Moscow.

v. The greatest railway densities are found in the industrial regions of Western Europe.

vi. Belgium has the greatest density with one kilometre of railway for every 6.5 sq. km of the country.

North America


i. The first railway in North America was built at Baltimore in 1830.

ii. The continent of North America has at present the most extensive railway network in the world.

iii. The densest railway network is found in the east-central U.S.A. and southern Canada, south of the Great Lakes, and on the Atlantic seaboard where most of the main cities are linked by rail. The main transcontinental lines follow an east-west direction linking the main centres of settlement in the east and on the west coast.

Trans-Continental Railways

i. Railway routes which join two ends of the continent, e.g., Canada Pacific Railway, Trans-Siberian Railway and the Australian Trans-Continental Railway

ii. Runs from Vancouver (British Columbia) on the Pacific coast to St. John’s (New Brunswick) on the Atlantic coast.

iii. Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, Fort William, Port Aurthur, Sudbury, Ottawa and Montreal are the main stations of this route.

iv. Extensively used for freight transport and unpopular for passenger transport.

v. Joins Quebec-Montreal industrial region with soft wood forest region and wheat region of Prairies.

The Canada National Railway (CNR)

i. Runs from Halifax in Nova Scotia to Vancouver via Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Edmonton.

ii. Churchill on Hudson Bay is linked to the main route by an important branchline.

Three important lines diverge from Edmonton. One runs to Mo Murray on the Athabasca, another serves the settlements of the Peace River district and third crosses the Rockies to Vancouver.


Trans-Siberian Railway (Eurasia)

i. Double Track rail routes starting from St. Petersburg (Leningrad) and Moscow in the west to Vladivostok in the east.

ii. World’s longest continuous rail route, crosses-seven time zones and cover more than 9,300 km (5,779 miles).

iii. Moscow, Ryazon, Ufa, Kurgan, Petropavalsk, Omsk, Novisibirsik, Krasnoyarsk, Toyshet, Irkutsk, Ullan Ude, Chita and Khaborovsk, are the main stations of this route.

iv. Some of the major


i. Railways are best developed in the coastal lowlands between the major industrial cities.

ii. Japanese railways are mainly electrified and are noted for their speed and efficiency.

iii. The Tokyo-Osaka or ‘Tokaido’ express is world famous.


i. Before the Communist revolution, China had few major railways. There are now more than35B km all on the standard gauge, except in Yunnan.

ii. Many lines have been converted from single to double tracks to cope with increased traffic inI freight and passengers.

iii. The main trunk lines run from Beijing (Peking) south to Guangzhou (Canton) north-west toll Bator in Mongolia and north-east to Harbin in Manchuria.

iv. The main east-west routes include lines from Tianjin (Tientsin), through Beijing (Peking), Daw (Tatung), Baotou (Paotow) to Urumqi (Urumchi) in Xinjiang (Sinkiang); to Xuzhou (Suchov;) Lanzhou (Lanchow) and from Shanghai to the North Vietnamese border at Pingxiang (Pingsiarc

South America

Railways in South-America are concentrated mainly in the meat-and-wheat areas of the Argent! Pampas and the coffee-growing region of south-east Brazil

The Chile-Argentine Railway

i. There is only one trans-continental railway in South America linking Buenos Aires wi Valparaiso through the Uspallata Pass across the Andes at a height of 3 960 metres (13 000 above mean sea-level.

ii. Of the remaining countries only Chile has a considerable length of railway lines about running from Africa south to Puerto Montt, with branch-lines that link coastal ports with mining sites in the interior.


The Australian Trans Continental Railway

i. Start from Fremantle (Perth) to Sydney, via Kalgoorlie, Coolgardie, Port Augusta, Broken Hill and Canberra

ii. Alice springs in the north and Adelaide in the south are linked to the main line.


i. Some of the more important routes of Africa include

ii. The Benguela Railway through Angola to the Katanga-Zambia copper belt.

iii. The Tanzara Railway from the Zambian copper belt to the sea at Dar es Salaam and the railway through Botswana and Zimbabwe linking the landlocked central African states to the South African system.

iv. Elsewhere, as in Algeria, Senegal, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, and lines run from coastal ports to inland centres but do not form a good network or link with lines in other countries.

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