Rail Transport

Rail transport is the conveyance of passengers and goods by means of wheeled vehicles specially designed to run along railways or railroads. Rail transport is part of the logistics chain, which facilitates international trade and economic growth in most countries.

Typical railway tracks consist of two parallel rails, normally made of steel, secured to crossbeams, termed sleepers (UK and Australia) or ties (U.S. & Canada). The sleepers maintain a constant distance between the two rails; a measurement known as the "gauge" of the track. Rails provide smooth and hard surfaces on which the wheels of the train can roll with a minimum of friction.

Railway rolling stock, which is fitted with metal wheels, moves with low frictional resistance when compared to road vehicles.

Rail transport is an energy-efficient and capital-intensive means of mechanised land transport and is a component of logistics. Due to the various benefits, rail transport is a major form of public transport in many countries. In Asia, for example, many millions use trains as regular transport in India, China, South Korea and Japan. Indian Railways carries 14 million passengers a day, making it one of the busiest railway networks in the world. Rail transport is also widespread in European countries. By comparison, intercity rail transport in the United States is relatively scarce, although a number of major U.S. cities have heavily-used, local rail-based passenger transport systems.

The vehicles travelling on the rails, collectively known as rolling stock, are arranged in a linked series of vehicles called a train, which can include a locomotive if the vehicles are not individually powered. A locomotive (or "engine") is a powered vehicle used to haul a train of unpowered vehicles. The locomotive can be powered by steam, diesel or by electricity supplied by trackside systems. Railed vehicles move with much less friction than rubber tires on paved roads, making trains more energy efficient, though not as efficient as ships.

In the USA, individual unpowered vehicles are known as cars. These may be passenger carrying or used for freight purposes. For passenger-carrying vehicles, the term carriage or coach is used, while a freight-carrying vehicle is known as a freight car in the United States and a wagon or truck in Great Britain.

Intercity trains are long-haul services connecting cities. Modern high-speed rail is capable of speeds up to 350 km/h (220 mph), but this requires specially built track. Regional and commuter trains feed cities from suburbs and surrounding areas, while intra-urban transport is performed by high-capacity tramways and rapid transits (electric passenger railway in an urban area), often making up the backbone of a city's public transport. Freight trains traditionally used box cars, requiring manual loading and unloading of the cargo. Since the 1960s, container trains have become the dominant solution for general freight.

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