The World’s Longest Passenger Train Is Over One Mile Long

To celebrate the 175th anniversary of Switzerland’s first railway, a railway company created the world’s longest passenger train ever, a 1.2-mile-long monster snaking through the Swiss Alps.

Switzerland’s mountain railways are regarded as feats of engineering, but they are hardly the best place to attempt a world record for the world’s longest passenger train. And that goes double for Rhaetische Bahn railways. Not only is the alpine terrain itself a challenge, featuring sharp turns and constant gradient changes, but the railway itself is considerably narrower –  just one meter apart, compared to the standard 1.435 meters. In order for the 25 “Capricorn” electric trains (a total of 100 passenger cars) to complete their voyage successfully on the UNESCO World Heritage Albula Line from Preda to Alvaneu in eastern Switzerland, everything had to be perfect.

Photo: Laetien (RhB)

“We need to be 100% synchronized, every second. Everyone has to keep their speed and other systems under control at all times,” lead driver Andreas Kramer told CNN. “We all know the Albula Line very well, every change of gradient, every incline. It goes without saying that we’re going through the process again and again.”

The dozens of train drivers and technicians taking part in this historic voyage all knew that any mismatch in acceleration or deceleration would exert unacceptably high forces on tracks and power supplies. This would put everyone’s life in danger, so there could be no mistakes during the 25-kilometer journey.


On long descents throughout the 25-kilometer voyage, train speed had to be controlled by regenerative braking, which fed current back into the 11,000-volt power lines overhead. Only that presented its own challenges, as experts feared that 25 trains in the same railway section breaking in unison would overload both the trains and the local power supply. To prevent this from happening, the top speed of the train was limited to 35 km/h, and the system had to be modified to keep the trains from feeding power back into the grid.

Additional safety measures were put in place to ensure that the 3,000 lucky ticket holders aboard the record-setting train were kept safe, and on October 29th, the world’s longest train (1,906 meters long) departed on a historic voyage through the Alps. The ride was documented with 19 cameras fitted on drones and helicopters, on the train itself and along the track.


Luckily, the notoriously sharp turns, steep gradients, 22 tunnels, and 48 bridges over deep valleys proved manageable challenges for the staff aboard the world’s longest train, and the 25-kilometer journey was completed without a hitch. The successful record attempt is now considered proof of Switzerland’s already famous capabilities in the field of railway technology.

The world record for the world’s longest train of any kind was set in 2001 by an Australian freight train with a length of 7.24 kilometers.

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