Rail network, Setor Ferroviário

Discover the panorama of rail transport in the world

From 1776, the tracks, before wood, were replaced by new ones whose finishes were made of iron, creating the first railroads. Cradle of the Industrial Revolution, England was also the first country to build and use a steam engine that moved on railroad tracks. In the year 1804, in an attempt to replace cargo transportation, hitherto carried out with the aid of horses, the British engineer Richard Trevithick invented the first steam locomotive, which was capable of supporting up to 18 tons of iron. And that is how rail transport in the world begins.

Since the first invention of steam engine for use in cargo transportation, changes and advances in this type of vehicle have not stopped. All the historical notes suggest that since the implementation of the railroads in England, it was in that same country that the evolution of the railroads has been happening, becoming a model for other countries in the world.

In 1813, George Stephenson, an engineer born in England, created a locomotive that fit his studies, understanding how steam traction and the contact generated by vehicle wheels on rails worked. This locomotive was tested the following year and managed to pull eight wagons and more than 30 tons. 

The legacy left by the first inventions of locomotives used on railroads is gigantic. The advent of machines that move on rails has made it easier for the whole world to transport cargo and has also favored trade between countries, as in Europe. The train as we know it today went through a series of modifications, improvements in structures and advances in the roads that allowed it to have the current composition, carrying out the loading of high tons of loads. 

From now on, we will provide an overview of rail transport in the world, addressing the conditions of the tracks and trains, the countries that contain more railroads, the size of the mileage of the railroad lines and other variables. 

Mileage of rail transport in the world

Discover the panorama of rail transport in the world

Although the cradle of railroad construction is England, it is natural that other countries in the world have more extensive railroad networks today, given that England, like other European countries, is small compared to countries like China, Russia, United States, Canada, India and Brazil.

Colony of England for many years, the United States naturally inherited the practice of investing in this means of transporting cargo and people, and it is the country that has the longest rail network in the world, with almost 300,000 km in length, ie , is the main country when we talk about rail transport in the world. 

The runner-up in terms of the size of the line's mileage is less than half the size of the US line. China has about 127,000 km of railroads. The data presented, such as those that will be indicated in our ranking below, were obtained through the website of the North American Intelligence Agency. Check now the list of countries that follow the ranking of countries with the largest rail transport in the world!

  • Russia: 87,157 km;
  • Canada: 77,932 km;
  • India: 68.525 km;
  • Germany: 43.468 km;
  • Australia: 36,968.

Latin America

of rail transport in the world

As we can see, North America has two countries that comprise the top positions in the ranking of mileage extension of rail transportation in the world. In the eighth position of the ranking comes Argentina, the first country in Latin America to enter the list. The “hermanos”, as they are known in Brazil, have a territorial extension of 2,766,889 square km and a population of more than 40 million inhabitants. According to data from 2014, at the time the length of the country's rail network was 36,917 km, entering the ranking as the eighth country in terms of mileage in rail transport in the world.

Brazil follows Argentina, with approximately 29 thousand km of railroad line. From this number it is easy to see how the country did not know how to invest in this important means of cargo handling, given that, in extension, the Brazilian territory is much larger than countries such as Argentina, Australia, Germany. The lack of investments and the abandonment of several railroad lines in the last century has caused the country to be much lower than necessary, reaching only the ninth place in the ranking of mileage of rail transport in the world. 

As Latin America encompasses all countries on the American continent whose main language is Latin, such as Spanish, French, English and Portuguese, much of the American continent is part of this denomination. Virtually the entire length of South America, Central America and Mexico (North America) belong to that denomination. 

Mexico, in fact, is the next country to appear on our list. Because it is located in a region close to the United States, it is a country that has invested a little more in relation to the next Latin American countries, which are far below the railroad mileage ranking. Mexico is eighteenth in the ranking of rail transport in the world, and has around 15,389km of railroad line, according to data from 2014. 

Model trains

of rail transport in the world

Throughout the history of railroad tracks and trains, the form of transportation in the world has changed to meet the demands of the societies in which they were inserted. Nowadays, trains are important forms of cargo transportation, for supplying cities and ports, as well as serving the production flow. However, in more developed countries, such as the United States, almost all of Europe, China, Brazil and others, the railroad sector is also used to transport people. The lines can connect neighborhoods, cities and even countries, as is the case of the European continent.

The movement of passengers made by rail transport in the world is an important way to speed up and decrease the travel time of the population. This sector is created and built by the governments of the countries, therefore, it is a public service, which in some regions is even free. In this way, the population is able to travel between regions or cities, at a much lower cost than a car trip, for example. In addition, they are vehicles that have the capacity to support a high number of passengers at the same time, different from utility vehicles, which provides a reduction in the journey time, since there is no traffic on the road. In addition to the benefits already mentioned, rail transportation mitigates problems related to the environment, such as pollution emitted by cars, motorcycles, buses and trucks. 


We could see that rail transport in the world is totally linked and allows the development of countries. The more developed countries invest heavily in this transport sector, both for cargo and people. In this way, these countries create broader trade routes within their own territory, in addition to providing daily transport for their population. 
Do you want to know more about the railroad sector? Then visit our blog. .

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