The Longest Train in the World

November 24, 2022

On June 21, 2011, a record was set in Western Australia that pushed the edge of technology in rail travel. This feat became the longest train in the world, and the facts behind it are amazing.

BHP Iron Ore set the longest train record between the Yandi mine and Port Hedland in Western Australia in 2011. The train was 4.53 miles (7.29 km) long and carried 82,000 metric tons or about 181 million pounds of iron ore. This is about the same weight as 402 Statues of Liberty (the Statue of Liberty weighs approximately 450,000 pounds).

The train had 682 cars that were driven by eight General Electric diesel locomotives. The total gross weight for the entire train was 99,734 metric tons (219.8 million pounds). This also beat the record for the world’s heaviest train, which was also held by BHP.

The locomotives were spread out among the cars in three pairs, along with two single locomotives. The entire train was driven 170 miles (273.6 km) by a single driver, and the trip took ten hours and four minutes. You can see the whole train below.

The record-breaking attempt was a test of the technology behind pulling longer and heavier trains. It beat the previous record set in 1991 in South Africa when an iron ore train pulled 660 cars that equaled a length of about 4.47 miles (7.19 km).

More Long Trains

The record for the longest train in the United States was a 3.5 mile (5.6 km) train operated by Union Pacific from Dallas to Long Beach in 2010. It was a test to see if trains could be made longer through different power configurations, specifically locomotives placed throughout the line of cars. You can see it move by below.

The longest passenger train was a more than a one-mile-long train that had 70 coaches operated by the National Belgian Railway Company. It was pulled by one electric locomotive and went from Ghent, Belgium to Ostend, Belgium, a distance of 38.9 miles (62.6 km), in 1991. It was a one-time train made specifically for a Belgian cancer research charity and was dismantled after it made the record-breaking attempt. The journey was even broadcast on Belgium television.

The Longest Rail Line

The longest freight train route in the world travels more than 8,000 miles (12,876 km). The China-Europe Block Train starts in Yiwu, China, and goes through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, France, and ends in Madrid, Spain. The route takes about 21 days to complete.

The longest passenger train route without changing trains runs from Moscow to Pyongyang, North Korea, on the Trans-Siberian railway and Korean State Railway. It has a distance of 6,346 miles (10,214 km) and takes just under eight days to complete. The longest passenger train route record on one rail line also belongs to the Trans-Siberian railway. The line from Moscow to Vladivostok, Russia, runs for 5,772 miles (9,289 km) and takes around six days to travel.

Sources: Railway Gazette, Popular Mechanics, Guinness Book of World Records, Business Insider

Subscribe to our newsletter for a collection of stories that have been added to the Stew and get our FREE Ebook Quick Facts as a thank you.

About the author 

Daniel Ganninger - The writer, editor, and chief lackey of Knowledge Stew, the author of the Knowledge Stew line of trivia books, and editor of Fact World and the Knowledge Stew sister site on Medium, our ad-free subscription sites (you can find out how to join below). I hope you find things here to annoy those around you with your new found knowledge.

Follow the Stew

How to Join the Knowledge Stew Ad-Free Subscription Site on Medium

Join Medium now and get access to every story from Knowledge Stew and Fact World plus thousands of others ad-free. Your membership fee directly supports a continued stream of great content on Knowledge Stew and Fact World, and you’ll also get full access to thousands of other writers and stories on Medium. ($5 per month)