Train transport

Train transport

Relates to transport via train

What is train transport?

refers to the conveyance of goods or people by rail. For these two possibilities to truly stand out from one another, we talk about passenger and freight trains. The latter are also known as cargo trains. Depending on the rail lines in question, on the distance to be covered and on the type of exchange, the logistical means implemented may differ. This relates to cost, overall organization and required lead times.

Regarding freight trains, rail convoys are made up of one or several engines. They are followed by wagons, on which containers or cumbersome goods are stored. The goal is to offer an alternative to , with an economical and high-performance solution. The length of the trains depends on the freight volume, as well as their pulling power and brake force.

for passengers can be for local, national or international lines. Though passenger safety is an additional consideration, the principle remains similar - in that each journey must be made profitable thanks to maximum wagon occupation. Once again, trains appear as a substitute for personal transport methods such as cars, offering stops and journeys that facilitate mobility for users.

The main specificities of train transport for freight and passengers

When it comes to conveying freight, offers several possibilities according to the goods’ volume and weight:

  • Full-load trains: they head to their destination without any intermediary stops or handling operations.

  • Isolated wagons: they are assembled at classification yards, according to their destination and the type of freight carried. Some reorganization can therefore be required.

for passengers is available in the following forms:

  • A powered rail car train;

  • A train with an engine and wagons;

  • A railcar.

The choice is made according to the distance covered, the journey frequency and the estimated number of passengers for each trip. A difference is also made between local lines and high-speed lines.

Examples and practical applications

In the world of freight, can be included in a offer, as a transition between the arrival and the destination. For instance, the goods may just have come off a convoy, and be pursuing their journey by rail. This is known as port rail networks. Inland ports can also be a calling point.

The logistics implemented revolve around the following criteria:

  • Nature and volume of the goods;

  • Place of arrival and final destination;

  • Delivery deadline committed to;

  • Availability and features of the transport equipment;

  • Rail network layout.

Train transport in figures

All sectors combined (freight and passenger), counts over 30,000 km of railway lines in France. An estimated 32 billion tons of goods are transported by train. As part of a multimodal offer, this represents 10% of the market.

It is important to state that figures relating to rail freight have fluctuated greatly over the years. They have alternated between peaks and troughs, subsequent to economic activity and trade. Passenger trains transport over 100 billion people every year.


Regulatory cornerstones

  • Mobility orientation law

  • Code of ethics applied to rail companies

  • Regulations pertaining to the transport of goods and international freight transit by rail

  • Regulations pertaining to passenger transport and safety in trains