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- A train is a connected series of rail vehicles propelled along a track (or “permanent way”) to transport cargo or passengers.
- Although historically steam propulsion dominated, the most common modern forms are diesel and electric locomotives, the latter supplied by overhead wires or additional rails.
- Train tracks usually consists of two, three or four rails, with a limited number of monorails and maglev guideways in the mix.
- A train can consist of a combination of one or more locomotives and attached railroad cars, or a self-propelled multiple unit.
- Trains can also be hauled by horses, pulled by a cable, or run downhill by gravity.
- Special kinds of trains running on corresponding special ‘railways’ are atmospheric railways, monorails, high-speed railways, maglev, rubber-tired underground, funicular and cog railways.
- Alternatively, a train may consist entirely of passenger carrying coaches, some or all of which are powered as a “multiple unit”.
- In many parts of the world, particularly the Far East and Europe, high-speed rail is used extensively for passenger travel.
- Freight trains are composed of wagons or trucks rather than carriages, though some parcel and mail trains are outwardly more like passenger trains.
- In the United Kingdom, a train hauled by two locomotives is said to be “double-headed”, and in Canada and the United States it is quite common for a long freight train to be headed by three or more locomotives.
- In most countries dieselization of locomotives in day-to-day use was completed by the 1970s.
- Generally, high speed rail runs at speeds above 124 mph and often operates on dedicated track that is surveyed and prepared to accommodate high speeds.
- In most cases, high-speed rail travel is time- and cost-competitive with air travel when distances do not exceed 311 to 373 mi, as airport check-in and boarding procedures may add as many as two hours to the actual transit time.
- Trains can run as Intercity services between major cities, then revert to a fast or even regional train service to serve communities at the extremity of their journey.
- Often the US style interurban and modern light rail are confused with a trolley system, as it too may run on on the street for short or medium long sections.
- Much of the world’s freight is transported by train, and in the United States the rail system is used more for transporting freight than passengers.
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