Rail transport (also known as train transport) is a means of transport using wheeled vehicles running in tracks, which usually consist of two parallel steel rails. Rail transport is one of the two primary means of land transport, next to road transport. It is used for about 8% of passenger and freight transport globally, thanks to its energy efficiency and potentially high speed.Rolling stock on rails generally encounters lower frictional resistance than rubber-tyred road vehicles, allowing rail cars to be coupled into longer trains. Power is usually provided by diesel or electrical locomotives. While railway transport is capital-intensive and less flexible than road transport, it can carry heavy loads of passengers and cargo with greater energy efficiency and safety.Precursors of railways driven by human or animal power have existed since antiquity, but modern rail transport began with the invention of the steam locomotive in Great Britain around 1800. The first passenger railway, the Stockton and Darlington Railway, opened in 1825. The quick spread of railways throughout Europe and North America, following the 1830 opening of the first intercity connection in England, was a key component of the Industrial Revolution. The adoption of rail transport lowered shipping costs compared to water transport, leading to "national markets" in which prices varied less from city to city.
In the 1880s, railway electrification began with tramways and rapid transit systems. Starting in the 1940s, steam locomotives were replaced by diesel locomotives. The first high-speed railway system was introduced in Japan in 1964, and high-speed rail lines now connect many cities in Europe, East Asia, and the eastern United States. Following some decline due to competition from cars and airplanes, rail transport has had a revival in recent decades due to road congestion and rising fuel prices, as well as governments investing in rail as a means of reducing CO2 emissions.

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