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Trains are an essential piece of the puzzle on mobility for individuals and transporting goods. Since the railroad was rediscovered during World War II (the Roman Empire used wagons), it has become more and more widely used. Now, it is present in cities, connecting countries, and crossing entire continents, often on enormous pieces of infrastructure.

What are trains?

Trains are a type of railway vehicle that has wagons and a locomotive. Some are also made up of self-propelled cars, though these are less common. Trains are used both for transporting goods and passengers, and they generally do not pollute very much.

The train, one of the most efficient systems

The train is one of the most efficient mobility systems, far beyond other modes like airplanes, and it’s not often used in tourism. However, its environmental impact does depend on the type of locomotive or the area’s electricity mix. Thus, diesel locomotives are still quite widespread; these are less efficient than electric locomotives and pollute more, though they are more reliable in cold regions.

France has one of the lowest greenhouse gas levels per kilogram transported and kilometer traveled, which has been achieved with electric locomotives and significant use of nuclear energy. It has high impacts, but it does not emit particles into the atmosphere.

Where is railway transportation used?

Within cities, especially dense ones, the ‘urban rail’ or ‘metropolitan rail,’ also known as the metro, subway, underground, or tube, is widely used. In cities, it’s common to find ‘commuter’ services, which are medium-distance trains that go to municipalities. It’s common to see long-distance trains running between countries or within them.

What infrastructure do trains need?

Trains need a railroad track to roll. Traditionally, this consists of a substructure of masonry and earth that supports the superstructure of the track, consisting of rails. However, there are also trains that run on tires, such as the London Underground, or trains that levitate on the superstructure, as in Japan.

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