Short Distance Trains

These trains usually run between city centres and suburban areas providing services to a huge population which would have been difficult for cars and other means of transport. Short distance trains include; commuter trains, rapid transit trains, trams, light rail, monorail, mine trains, magnetic levitation trains, railcar, heritage trains.

Commuter Trains.

These trains are used in cities to transport passengers from one point to another within short distances. They are usually employed between cities and their suburbs. They are a very efficient mode of transport to cater for a large population within cities. Compared with road transport, it carries much more people with far less pollution. They also travel much longer distances compared to other rapid transit systems and may share tracks with other trains. Commuter trains are used in every major city of the world with double decker trains being introduced for efficiency and increased capacity especially during rush hours when there is a high traffic of passengers using the train to go to work in the mornings. These trains are also modified to accommodate more passengers with the seats elevated in an upright position to provide for more standing room for passengers.

Rapid Transit Trains

Large cities in the world use rapid transit trains which may be referred to as underground trains or tube trains. These trains travel in underground tunnels or overhead bridges specially built for these train types. They can accelerate or decelerate at faster speeds than other long distance trains. Their configuration allow for the use of these trains for rapid transport of passenger to and from various parts of the city within a shorter time frame. In London these trains are referred to as underground trains or tube trains and in New York they are referred to as subway trains.


Trams have different definitions depending on the country. In the UK there is a clear distinction between the tram and railroad. In the US trams are referred to as street cars or trolleys. The main difference between the trains and trams is that while trams run on public streets the trains run on their own tracks separated from the public streets.

Light Rail

Light rail trains are used for transportation for short distances within cities. They may be used as trams in some countries but usually have their own dedicated tracks. They are also referred to as interurban as they connect larger urban centres within a city to the city centre. Modern light rail systems may use abandoned rail lines to revitalize run down parts of the city or may be built with new rail lines entirely.


Monorails are special trains used for short distance transportation within a city and usually move on single rail elevated tracks. They are not commonly used but provide another efficient means of transportation to support a large city’s entire transport infrastructure network.

Maglev Trains.

These trains use Magnetic Levitation technology. This technology allows the train to ‘float’ above the track thus reducing friction and allowing higher speeds. These trains were first demonstrated in 1913 and was first commercially used in the UK in 1984 as an airport shuttle. The fastest commercially available maglev train is in China and runs at speeds of up to 430 km/ hr.


A rail car by definition is a self propelled railway vehicle designed to transport passengers. They usually consist of a single coach with a driver’s cab at one or both ends. It is also used to pull a whole train and may be referred to as a motor car in this case.

Heritage Trains.

These trains are operated by volunteers who are usually fans of trains as tourist attraction. The trains are usually formed from vintage trains no longer in use for commercial operations.

Airport Trains.

These trains are used to transport people from one point to another within an airport complex. They are electrically operated and may also shuttle passengers from the airport to other main train stations.

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