How Far Can One Go - Transcontinental Journeys

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How Far Can One Go - Transcontinental Journeys

Postby lpetrich » Mon Oct 20, 2008 6:18 pm

The proposal of a Bering Strait link makes me think about how far one can go by existing or proposed railroad lines.

In the Lower 48 on Amtrak, the greatest distances between major cities are Seattle - Miami (2700 mi / 4400 km) and San Diego - Portland, ME (2600 mi / 4200 km), both as the airplane flies (great-circle distances). The routes are:

Seattle - Empire Builder - Chicago - Capitol Limited - Washington, DC - Silver Celestial Object - Miami
(rather roundabout)

San Diego - Pacific Surfliner - Los Angeles - Southwest Chief - Chicago - Lake Shore Limited - Boston - Downeaster - Portland, ME
(close to a great circle)

Including Canada gives Prince Rupert - Halifax (3000 mi / 4800 km), Prince Rupert - Miami (3200 mi / 5200 km), and San Diego - Halifax (3000 mi, 4800 km). However, some of the routes are rather roundabout and significantly longer, as the the Seattle - Miami route is.

Including freight-only lines in Canada and Mexico gives the possibility of greater distances:

Fort Nelson, BC, CA (Canadian National) - Salina Cruz, Oaxaca, MX (Ferrocarril Transismitico; Ferrosur) (3300 mi / 5300 km)

There isn't much of a rail system to the south of that in Central America --isolated lines that are mostly abandoned. But if the Mexico-Panama FERISTSA line ever gets built, one can go to Panama City (4100 mi / 6600 km).

South America is somewhat better, with active railroad lines here and there, but no continentwide network.

-

So we must turn elsewhere.

Turning to Australia, the greatest separation between passenger-rail-served cities is likely Perth, WA - Cairns, QLD (2100 mi / 3400 km), though the route follows Australia's south and east coasts and is 50% longer.

And in the mainland Old World, Africa is much like South America, with lots of isolated railroad lines without a continentwide network.

That leaves Eurasia, and there are railroad lines that span a large part of it. With currently-existing ones, the longest trip is Lisbon, Portugal - Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (7100 mi, 11400 km). One can travel Portugal - Spain - France - Germany - Poland - Belarus - Russia - Kazakhstan - China - Vietnam.

The networks of India-Pakistan-Bangladesh, Burma, and Thailand are not connected to the main Eurasian network, but if they were, then it would be possible to go from Lisbon to Singapore (7400 mi / 11900 km).

-

A Bering-Strait line from Yakutsk to Fort Nelson would make possible even longer journeys -- to Salina Cruz (11,000 mi / 18,000 km), and a bit less to Miami or Halifax. The distance of the latter town to Lisbon is 2800 mi / 4500 km across the Atlantic Ocean, though I doubt that anyone will ever build a transatlantic tunnel.
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Re: How Far Can One Go - Transcontinental Journeys

Postby David Benton » Mon Oct 20, 2008 6:26 pm

INTERESTING THREAD , thanks , i'll have to get my atlas out .
Im wondering if Darwin to cairns is longer than perth to Cairns , obviously not as the crow flies , but maybe by rail ???
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Re: How Far Can One Go - Transcontinental Journeys

Postby lpetrich » Wed Oct 22, 2008 1:05 pm

I found some Australia railroad maps:
I decided to use the Daft Logic Google Maps Distance Calculator to measure those distances, and Google Maps to get the flat-road distance.
  • Cairns - Darwin: rail: 6100 km, road: 2600 km, great circle: 1700 km
  • Cairns - Perth: rail: 5700 km, road: 4600 km, great circle: 3500 km

That aside, I'll turn to the question of circling some landmass.

There is no way to do that in Australia, since its only railroad lines along its northern and western coasts are concentrated in a few spots: from Perth south to Albany and north to Geraldon, and inland from Port Karratha and Hedland further north.

So I'll turn to North America. In the Lower 48 US states, it was possible to get very close to that with Amtrak before it suspended New Orleans - Orlando Sunset Limited service.

New York City - Silver Meteor - Jacksonville - Sunset Limited - Los Angeles - Coast Starlight - Seattle - Empire Builder - Chicago - Lake Shore Limited - Boston - NEC train - NYC

New York City - Carolinian - Charlotte - Crescent - New Orleans - Sunset Limited - Los Angeles - ...

The total length is about 7,000 mi / 11,000 km

Including Canada and VIA rail turns the Seattle - NYC part into

Seattle - Amtrak Cascades - Vancouver, BC - Canadian - Toronto - Windsor-QC corridor train - Montreal - Adirondack - Albany, NY - Lake Shore Limited - Boston - NEC train - NYC

Including freight lines makes possible Vancouver, BC - Prince George - Edmonton, on Canadian National tracks, to the northwest of the Canadian's route. In the northeast, I recall that VIA's Montreal-Halifax route once went through Maine, so it may be possible to extend that trip through eastern Quebec, New Brunswick, and Maine.

Going into Mexico, the route would be

Jacksonville or New Orleans - Sunset Limited - Houston - (UP) - Corpus Christi - Brownsville - (KCS) - Monterrey - San Luis Potosi - Celaya - (Ferromex) - Guadalajara - Mazatlan - Guaymas - Mexicali - (UP) - Palm Springs - Sunset Limited - Los Angeles

These extra excursions would add about 2,000 mi / 3,000 km to the trip, making 9,000 mi / 14,000 km. And Celaya is as close as this route gets to Mexico City, which is 130 mi / 210 km southeastward.
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Re: How Far Can One Go - Transcontinental Journeys

Postby lpetrich » Sat Oct 25, 2008 5:41 pm

Since there is no continent-scale rail network south of Salina Cruz as there is north of there, I turn to the Old World. I'd already handled Australia, so I turn to Africa. It has lots of isolated and more-or-less isolated rail lines, with only South Africa having a full-scale rail network.

That leaves Eurasia, and like North America, it has a continent-scale rail network. Both Eurasia and North America have several lines extending northward from their northernmost east-west lines.

For North America, the northernmost line east-west line is this Canadian National one (major cities on it from west to east):
Prince Rupert, BC - Edmonton, AB - Winnipeg, MB - Toronto, ON - Montreal, QC - Halifax, NS

For Eurasia, one has to assemble such a line from a patchwork of lines in several nations, and I will start with Lisbon again:

Lisbon, Portugal - La Coruña, Spain - Hendaye, France - Brest - Calais - Oostende, Belgium - Amsterdam, Holland - Groningen - Hamburg, Germany - Copenhagen, Denmark - Malmö, Sweden - Trondheim, Norway - Tornio, Finland - Belomorsk, Russia - Kirov - Tyumen - Tayshet - Komsomolsk-on-Amur - Vladivostok

Closing some gaps makes possible some further northward journeys:
Trondheim, Norway - Bodö - Narvik - Tornio, Finland
Belomorsk, Russia - Arkhangelsk - Mikun - Vorkuta - Novy Urengoi - Tyumen

On the south side, going west to east:
Lisbon, Portugal - Valencia, Spain - Perpignan, France - Ventimiglia, Italy - Reggio Calabria - Brindisi - Trieste - Zagreb, Croatia - Belgrade, Serbia - Skopje, FYROM - Thessaloniki, Greece - Istanbul, Turkey - Izmir - Adana - Van - Tabriz, Iran - Mashad - Tedzhen, Turkmenistan - Samarkand, Uzbekistan - Alma Ata, Kazakhstan - Urumqi, China - Lanzhou - Kunming - Hong Kong

On the east side, going north to south:

Ussuriysk, Russia (near Vladivostok) - Harbin - Beijing - Shanghai - Hong Kong

There are several gaps along the southern coast of Portugal and Spain, and some big ones in the western Balkans.

Taking a side trip into Great Britain, it's possible to circumnavigate all of it except western Cornwall, western Wales, and northern Scotland:
London - Ramsgate - Exeter - Bristol - Newport - Liverpool - Carlisle - Glasgow - Edinburgh - Newcastle - York - Peterborough - Norwich - London

However, one cannot get do that in Ireland or Sicily or some other similar-sized European islands.

Sources:

For Europe, I've found Thorsten Bueker's map site, which has maps for all of Europe west of Russia, and also All Europe Rail for Europe west of the former Soviet bloc.

For Russia and other ex-USSR countries, I've found Dmitri Zinoviev's wonderfully-detailed map, but for an overview, you can go to Wikipedia's Russian Rail Map. Wikipedia has lots of "Rail transport in ..." articles that I've found very helpful.
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Re: How Far Can One Go - Transcontinental Journeys

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sun Oct 26, 2008 10:24 am

Mr. Petrich, I am somewhat confused; is this exercise addressing where one could travel by rail in ANY Class of Service, i.e. riding a boxcar, or is it confined to where regular passenger service is, or is believed to be, offered?

While likely many here are familiar with this website, here is a trove of information regarding "where you can and where you can't" go by rail on this planet:

http://www.seat61.com/index.html
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Re: How Far Can One Go - Transcontinental Journeys

Postby george matthews » Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:09 pm

And in the mainland Old World, Africa is much like South America, with lots of isolated railroad lines without a continentwide network.


I have travelled in various segments from Lusaka to Cape Town. Since I left that area there has been the line from Zambia to Dar es Salaam. Thus in theory, in various trains it is almost possible to travel from Cape Town to Kampala by train - though one now has to walk across the bridge at Victoria Falls, which I have done more than once (and Zimbabwe's trains may not be operating at all).
Last edited by george matthews on Mon Oct 27, 2008 5:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How Far Can One Go - Transcontinental Journeys

Postby george matthews » Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:15 pm

Taking a side trip into Great Britain, it's possible to circumnavigate all of it except western Cornwall, western Wales, and northern Scotland:
London - Ramsgate - Exeter - Bristol - Newport - Liverpool - Carlisle - Glasgow - Edinburgh - Newcastle - York - Peterborough - Norwich - London


20 years ago I had a two week all-lines ticket and travelled from the south coast (Bournemouth) to Thurso and then down again to Penzance (Lands End) and west Wales.

Bournemouth-Eastbourne; Eastbourne-Carlisle; Carlisle-Glasgow; Glasgow-Inverness (sleeper); Inverness-Thurso. Wick-Inverness; Inverness-Edinburgh (sleeper); Edinburgh-Carlisle; Carlisle-Bournemouth via Settle and Leeds; Bournemouth-Truro; Truro-Penzance- Paddington (sleeper); Paddington-Machynlleth; Machynlleth-Aberystwith-Devils Bridge- Coventry-Bournemouth.

I also had time to visit friends in several of these places.
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Re: How Far Can One Go - Transcontinental Journeys

Postby lpetrich » Sun Oct 26, 2008 4:56 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote:Mr. Petrich, I am somewhat confused; is this exercise addressing where one could travel by rail in ANY Class of Service, i.e. riding a boxcar, or is it confined to where regular passenger service is, or is believed to be, offered?

Both, as far as I can find anything. I'm imagining that if one has enough $$$, one could charter an excursion train over freight-only routes.

While likely many here are familiar with this website, here is a trove of information regarding "where you can and where you can't" go by rail on this planet:

http://www.seat61.com/index.html

Thanx. It turns out that there's passenger service on most of Eurasia's main rail lines, including nearly all of those that I'd discussed for long-distance journeys.

An exception is the line between Boden, Sweden, and Tornio, Finland. Both countries' passenger networks extend to those towns and a bit further north, but not between those towns. To avoid that passenger-service gap, one must go
Hamburg, Germany - Rostock - Szczecin, Poland - Gdansk - Vilnius, Lithuania - St. Petersburg, Russia - Belomorsk

And one more circumnavigation: the Indian Subcontinent. From Railway Network Map of India (Wikipedia):
Hyderabad, Pakistan - Lahore - Amritsar, India - Kolkata, India - Trivandrum - Ahmedabad - Hyderabad, Pakistan
(not clear about Bangladesh and easternmost India)
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Re: How Far Can One Go - Transcontinental Journeys

Postby george matthews » Sun Oct 26, 2008 5:49 pm

An exception is the line between Boden, Sweden, and Tornio, Finland. Both countries' passenger networks extend to those towns and a bit further north, but not between those towns. To avoid that passenger-service gap, one must go
Hamburg, Germany - Rostock - Szczecin, Poland - Gdansk - Vilnius, Lithuania - St. Petersburg, Russia - Belomorsk

There used to be trains on the Finnish border. Now, it's a bus, listed in the Thomas Cook European timetable.
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Re: How Far Can One Go - Transcontinental Journeys

Postby David Benton » Mon Oct 27, 2008 3:48 am

as far as bangladesh goes , the journey form Calcutta used to be train , rickshaw to border , bus to river , ferry , another bus , which crosses another river on a ferry , ( the ferries dont inspire alot of confidence ,i spent the crossing wondering if i could swim the width of the river ) , then another bus to the capital . i believe there is a train resotred for part of the journey now .
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Re: How Far Can One Go - Transcontinental Journeys

Postby NellieBly » Sun Jan 25, 2009 3:46 pm

How far can one go? Well, when I was still working as a consultant, there were plans for through container train service from Shanghai to Narvik, Norway. This would have run via Urumqi, China and Kazakhstan (with a break of gauge at the Kazakh border) then up through Russia and Finland to Sweden (another break of gauge -- back to standard gauge), thence up through Kiruna, Sweden to Narvik, Norway.

I had hopes of riding whatever sort of excuse for a business car we could find to ride on this route. Estimated running time was 21 days Shanghai to Narvik. Now THAT's a trip.

Longest trip I have personally taken was Vancouver, BC to Montreal (in 1970), thence a change from Central Station to Windsor Station (they're on opposite sides of the Place du Canada), a couple of hours layover, then the D&H "Montreal Limited" to Grand Central Terminal, NY, subway to Penn Station, and PC train to Washington.
Randy Resor, aka "NellieBly" passed away on November 1, 2013. We honor his memory and his devotion to railroading at railroad.net.
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Re: How Far Can One Go - Transcontinental Journeys

Postby David Benton » Wed Jan 28, 2009 2:50 pm

NellieBly wrote:How far can one go? Well, when I was still working as a consultant, there were plans for through container train service from Shanghai to Narvik, Norway. This would have run via Urumqi, China and Kazakhstan (with a break of gauge at the Kazakh border) then up through Russia and Finland to Sweden (another break of gauge -- back to standard gauge), thence up through Kiruna, Sweden to Narvik, Norway.

I had hopes of riding whatever sort of excuse for a business car we could find to ride on this route. Estimated running time was 21 days Shanghai to Narvik. Now THAT's a trip.

Longest trip I have personally taken was Vancouver, BC to Montreal (in 1970), thence a change from Central Station to Windsor Station (they're on opposite sides of the Place du Canada), a couple of hours layover, then the D&H "Montreal Limited" to Grand Central Terminal, NY, subway to Penn Station, and PC train to Washington.

did that Urumqi route ever get much container traffic . it seemed to be promising , but once it opened very little has been written about it ???
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Re: How Far Can One Go - Transcontinental Journeys

Postby scharnhorst » Sun May 10, 2009 11:47 am

Took the train from uzhhorod, Ukraine near the Hungray/Slovika Border to Vladivostok, Russia it took almost 2 weeks but it was worth it. Once you hit the Ukraineian boarder you change trains and go from rideing on standered gage to 5 foot gage in Ukraine.
no matter the weather or the country I'll still be trackside!
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Re: How Far Can One Go - Transcontinental Journeys

Postby george matthews » Sun May 10, 2009 5:28 pm

Turning to Australia, the greatest separation between passenger-rail-served cities is likely Perth, WA - Cairns, QLD (2100 mi / 3400 km), though the route follows Australia's south and east coasts and is 50% longer.

Of course there is now the weekly 'Ghan from Adelaide to Darwin.
I have travelled from Perth to Brisbane (and Sydney to Melbourne and back). In fact you could say I have travelled in western Australia from Bunbury to Brisbane.
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Re: How Far Can One Go - Transcontinental Journeys

Postby tonymercury » Mon Feb 08, 2010 1:45 am

In Australia you can actually travel from Bunbury, which is south of Perth, to Forsayth, which is well inland from Cairns.



http://www.transwa.wa.gov.au/Bookings/Timetables/tabid/45/Default.aspx

http://www.savannahlander.com.au/

But Mt Isa is further

423 Kms

Townsville to Cairns 340 kms

Townsville to Mt Isa 977 km


Now to investigate Bunbury v Darwin

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Distances from Cooks
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