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Rail Network

Map No. 36

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In 2002 there were one million kilometres of railway in the world. If this railway were evenly spread out in a grid system, the furthest you could ever possibly be from a railway would be 65 kilometres.

A railway can be used to transport passengers or freight. However the existence of a rail network does not always mean high usage. South America has 9% of all railway lines in the world, but only 0.5% of all passenger kilometres travelled and 0.1% of all rail freight.

Many of the territories without a rail network are relatively small islands. Of the seven territories with the largest land areas, six also have the longest distances of railway.

"Japanese railways nationwide pass through some 3800 mountain tunnels totalling 2100 km in length, including the Seikan Tunnel (the world’s longest tunnel) completed in 1988." Yukinori Koyama, 1997

Territory size shows the proportion of all railway lines in the world found there.

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