A passenger train is a used to transport people along a railroad line. These trains may consist of unpowered (also known as coaches or carriages) hauled by one or more locomotives, or may be self-propelled; self propelled passenger trains are known as or . Passenger trains travel between , where passengers may board and disembark. In most cases, passenger trains operate on a fixed and have priority over . Many have been bestowed a , some of which have become famous in literature and fiction. Some passenger trains, both long-distance and short-distance, may use cars to carry more passengers per train. Car design and the general safety of passenger trains have dramatically evolved over time, making travel by rail remarkably safe. Passenger trains may be made up of a number of passenger cars hauled by one or more locomotives, or may be made up of self-propelled . Passenger trains hauled by locomotives are more expensive to operate than multiple units, but have a higher passenger capacity.

Long-distance trains

Long-distance trains travel between many cities or regions of a country, and sometimes cross several countries. They often have a or restaurant car to allow passengers to have a meal during the course of their journey. Trains travelling overnight may also have . Currently much of travel on these distances of over is done by air in many countries but in others long-distance travel by rail is a popular or the only cheap way to travel long distances.

High-speed rail

One notable and growing long-distance train category is high-speed rail, which generally runs at speeds above and often operates on dedicated track that is surveyed and prepared to accommodate high speeds. The first successful example of a high-speed passenger rail system was Japan's , colloquially known as the "bullet train", which commenced operation in October 1964. Other examples include France's (Train à Grande Vitesse, literally "high speed train"), Germany's (Inter-City Express), and Spain's (Alta Velocidad Española). In most cases, high-speed rail travel is time- and cost-competitive with air travel when distances do not exceed , as airport and boarding procedures can add at least two hours to the overall transit time. Also, rail operating costs over these distances may be lower when the amount of consumed by an during and is taken into consideration. Air travel becomes more cost-competitive as the travel distance increases because the fuel accounts for less of the overall operating cost of the airliner. Some high-speed rail systems employ to improve stability in curves. Examples of tilting trains are the (APT), the , the , 's ' and the Spanish . Tilting is a dynamic form of , allowing both low- and high-speed traffic to use the same trackage (though not simultaneously), as well as producing a more comfortable ride for passengers.

Inter-city trains

"Inter-city" is a general term for any rail service that uses trains with limited stops to provide fast long-distance travel. Inter-city services can be divided into three major groups: * : using high-speed trains to connect cities, bypassing all intermediate stations, thus linking major population hubs in the fastest time possible * : calling at some intermediate stations between cities, serving larger communities * : calling at all intermediate stations between cities, serving smaller communities along the route The distinction between the three types of inter-city rail service may be unclear; trains can run as InterCity services between major cities, then revert to an express (or even regional) train service to reach communities at the furthest points of the journey. This practice allows communities to be served in the most cost-effective way, at the expense of a longer journey time for those wishing to travel to the station.

Higher-speed rail

Higher-speed rail services operate at top speeds that are higher than conventional inter-city trains but below high-speed rail services. These services are provided after improvements to the conventional rail infrastructure to support trains that can operate safely at higher speeds.

Short-distance trains

Commuter trains

Many cities and their surrounding areas are served by (also known as suburban trains), which serve who live outside of the city they work in, or vice versa. More specifically, in the United States commuter rail service is defined as, "short-haul rail passenger transportation in metropolitan and suburban areas usually having reduced fare, multiple ride, and commuter tickets and morning and evening peak period operations". Trains are very efficient for transporting large numbers of people at once, compared to road transport. While automobiles may be delayed by , trains operate on dedicated rights-of-way which allow them to bypass such congestion. With the use of , which are tall enough to have two levels of seating, commuter rail services can haul as many as 150 commuters per train car, and over 1,000 per train, significantly outpacing the capacity of automobiles and buses.


In and usage, a "railcar" is a self-propelled designed to transport passengers. The term is usually used in reference to a train consisting of a single (carriage, coach) with a driver's at one or both ends. Some railways, e.g. the , used the term "". If the railcar is able to pull a full train, it is more likely to be called a "" or a "motor car". The term "railcar" is sometimes also used as an alternative name for the small types of that consist of more than one coach.

Heritage trains

Heritage trains are operated by volunteers, often , as a tourist attraction. Usually trains are formed from historic vehicles retired from national commercial operation.

See also

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{{Reflist Passenger rail transport