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Asian Trains and Rails --History & Development

Updated on July 14, 2014

Though the rest of the world had begun railway transport much earlier, Asia has extensively expanded its rail network and today has one of the best networks in the world. In the 1800’s the train systems were beginning to be constructed all over the world. Europe had been hard at work with trial and error efforts for centuries at this point. Not many other continents jumped on board until later in the 1800’s. The next big player in the development of the train system was America, which began experimenting and construction in the 1820’s. It was not until 1888 that Asia had its first big break through with the construction of a railway. The Peak Tram was originally constructed in order to provide transportation for passengers and goods in the Hong Kong area. While this might have been the first train system that was successfully built and operated in Asia, there have since been some really amazing progress in the advancement of train systems through out Asia.

One of the most notable train systems in Asia is the Trans-Asian railway. This railway did not begin to be built until the middle of the 1900’s. However since its completion, this train system provides passengers with almost nine thousand miles of railways to travel through out Asia. The Trans-Asian Railway was intended to be an efficient way to improve trading, and the transportation of goods through out Asia and Europe. There were various challenges that the development of this system faces through out the construction and operation during the last couple of decades; however, it is now one of the most integral pieces of the economy between Europe and Asia.

With this sprawling train transportation system, there are various corridors that will effectively connect different areas of the system to European locations. For instance the Northern Corridor connects the Pacific side of Asia to countries like Germany, Russia, Poland, etc.; while the Southern Corridor connects Southeast Asia to countries like Iran, India, Pakistan, Turkey, etc. There is a separate North-South Corridor that is exclusively used for the Persian Gulf. The train system in Asia is much different than the train systems in other continents around the world.

Some of the greatest differences between the Asian train system and the rest of the world is that in America and Europe the trains were originally created for goods, then there was a span of time where passengers used the trains for primary transportation, and then the swing went back over to the primary use being for goods. In Africa, the trains were created to provide more convenient access to all parts of the continent, and today the trains are still used as a primary means of conveyance for passengers as well as goods. However, in Asia the train systems seem to have always had the trading, and transport of goods as the primary objective. It seems as though the train systems have a residual benefit of being able to transport people as well. While there are many differences, there is one great similarity between the American train system and the train system in Asia.

One of the greatest similarities between the train system in American, and the train system in Asia is that there are trains for goods, and then smaller versions or trains that are designated for passengers. There is even a luxury train known as the Orient Express that offers customers an extravagant traveling and site seeing experience in the location that they desire through out Asia. Guests can pay a premium of thousands of dollars in order to get the experience of a lifetime with the Orient Express. It is a traditional train in structure; however, it does not haul goods for trade. It is a vacationing destination where passengers travel all over Asia and have a space that is comparable to a hotel room in the train. There are restaurants, lounges, entertainment areas, and more all through out this extravagant transportation source. Passengers will get off and explore various regions at each stop, and then re-board to travel in style to the next location.

From the express shipment of goods between Europe and Asia in order to boost the economy, to the inner-city travels of commuters, to the luxurious travel of vacationers and travelers, the train system in Asia is certainly one that is completely unique. You will not experience train, and railroad travel, quite like you do in Asia anywhere else in the world.


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