Vacation to the sound of wheels – the most unusual railways in the world

Rail travel is regaining its position among Russian travelers – according to the results of 2022, more passengers used their services than air transport. We have chosen for you the most unusual railways in the world.


The highest, Qinghai-Tibet Railway , located in China. The route from Beijing to the capital of Tibet – Lhasa – was opened relatively recently, in 2006. And it became one of the most complex railways in the world from an engineering point of view and one of the most unusual for a passenger.

Built in the highlands and partly in permafrost conditions, it required the use of a wide variety of, including cunning, low-tech solutions. For example, specially created stone mounds to cool the soil underneath.

For the passenger, it differs from others by the possibility of using oxygen masks at altitude – the railway rises to 5072 m above sea level. Oxygen is supplied to each passenger seat. In addition, special cars were developed for use on this branch line, capable of supporting such a life support system.

It is also characteristic that the waste products of the passengers of this train are not dumped on the track under it during movement, but are collected in special containers , which are cleared at one of the stations already down on the plain.


The longest railway in the world is located in Russia – this is the famous Transsib. Its historical part, 8.3 thousand km long, connects Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok. In the modern sense, the Trans-Siberian also includes sections of the route from Moscow. And the total length is more than 9 thousand km.

Vacation under the sound of wheels – the most unusual railways in the world

Transsib, Baikal. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The road was built from 1891 to 1916. Traffic on the road began in 1901. But it was fully electrified already in the 20th century, namely in 2002.

The construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway for the first time in history made it possible to follow the railway without ferry crossings from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. The road is constantly being modernized and still remains one of the most important transport routes in the country. Including, from the point of view of the organization of tourist logistics.

Already in the 21st century, the Trans-Siberian Railway has also become one of the most desirable tourist attractions for foreigners in Russia – you can literally drive the whole country along it. Specially for foreign travelers, several times a year, tourist trains ran along the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Vladivostok.

The section that the main Trans-Siberian route used to pass – Circum-Baikal Railway

strong>. True, contrary to the name, today it does not “go around Baikal”, but is a dead-end branch Slyudyanka II – Baikal, 89 kilometers long. But from an engineering point of view, it was ahead of its time and remains amazing today: there are 38 tunnels with a total length of almost 10 km, and the longest tunnel has a length of 777 m, 15 stone galleries with a total length of 295 m and 248 bridges and viaducts.

< p>In addition to the most interesting transport attraction, of course, the natural beauties around are of interest to tourists.


Perhaps this is the most controversial category: several applicants are fighting for the title of the northernmost railway in the world, and it all depends on how you look at the issue. Regardless, the physically northernmost iron line Obskaya – Bovanenkovo ​​- Karskaya is located in Russia. But it is almost never used by passengers, except for shift workers – tourists cannot pass there.

For a long time, the Russian suburban railway Kola – Nickel also remained the northernmost passenger the Murmansk region. But in recent years, passenger transport has not been running there either.

And then discrepancies begin: in Russian-language sources, the Murmansk railway station appears as the northernmost one, but the branch itself is long and goes south, therefore “the northernmost” It's hard to name it in its entirety.

Vacation under the sound of wheels – the most unusual railways in the world

A train on the Ofoten line in Norway. Photo: Wikimedia commons

In English-language sources, the Norwegian line Ofoten is referred to as such, and the northernmost station is the Narvik stop located on this road. The line is served by three daily passenger trains, one from Stockholm (that is, the line is international). The line is also historical – it was opened in 1902 for the needs of iron ore miners.


Regarding the southernmost railway in the world, everything is somewhat simpler: it is rather unequivocally called the narrow gauge railway from Ushuaia to the Tierra del Fuego park in Argentina (in Spanish – Ferrocarril Austral Fueguino (FCAF ).

Vacation under the sound of wheels – the most unusual railways in the world

Train to End of the World station, Argentina. Photo: Wikimedia commons

His history, however, is far from cheerful. At the beginning of the 19th century, it was used to organize the work and life of the prisoners of the local prison: stones, sand, and firewood were transported along the narrow gauge railway. In the middle of the last century, most of the branch was destroyed by an earthquake, and after 50 years it was partially rebuilt for tourism needs.

Those who want to get to the very end of the world – here. It is on this railway line that there is the Fin del Mundo or “End of the World” station.


The world's longest straight railway line is in Australia. Part of the Trans-Australian Railway on the Nullarbor Plain from west to east for almost 500 km. It does not have a single twist or bend.

Vacation under the sound of wheels – the most unusual railways in the world

A train on the Trans-Australian Railway. Photo by Wikimedia commons

It was discovered in the 10s of the twentieth century and for the first time connected the two ends of the continent by land.

Since the road passes through the desert, one of the main difficulties faced by engineers solving its operation, consisted in refueling steam locomotives with water. It was even supposed to initially use diesel locomotives there, although by the time the road was opened, they had not yet gained due popularity. However, due to corruption scandals, the idea did not take root – diesel trains appeared there only closer to the sixties.

It is also characteristic that throughout the entire history of operation, the road was constantly growing with new sidings, which, due to the increase in the length of trains, also had to “pull out” over time. The management of most of the sidings still remains on the conscience of the train crew, despite the considerably increased automation on the railway.

Ekaterina Tropova

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