Guide on 25 Different Types of Trains with Names & Pictures

Overview of Types of Trains

Trains are like a chain of connected vehicles that move on special tracks. They help carry people and things from one place to another. Engines, also called locomotives or railcars, pull these trains. Some trains can move independently without an engine, like multiple units. Passengers and cargo are carried in railroad cars, also called wagons. Trains run on tracks with a specific distance between them, called gauge. Most trains use steel tracks and wheels, which makes them efficient and helps them move smoothly. In this article, we will see different types of trains worldwide. Along with we will see the function of all types of trains.

Types of Trains Pictures

Different Types of Trains, Names & Pictures

Different Types of Trains Names

  • High-Speed Trains
  • Maglev Trains
  • Commuter Trains
  • Light Rail
  • Subway/Metro
  • Monorail
  • Trams/Streetcars
  • InterCity Trains
  • Regional Trains
  • Freight Trains
  • Passenger Trains
  • Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs)
  • Electric Multiple Units (EMUs)
  • Double-Decker Trains
  • Auto Train
  • Night Trains
  • Bullet Trains
  • Cable Cars
  • Rack Railways
  • Tourist Trains
  • Airport People Movers
  • Hybrid Trains
  • Articulated Trains
  • Goods Wagons
  • Long Distance Trains

Types of Trains with Pictures

High-Speed Trains

High-speed rail systems are designed for efficient long-distance travel. They can reach speeds over 200 km/h on special tracks to reduce fire risks.

Japan’s Shinkansen, or bullet train, introduced in 1964, was famous for all types of trains. The Wuhan–Guangzhou High-Speed Railway and Beijing–Tianjin Intercity Rail are the world’s fastest high-speed rails, reaching up to 350 km/h.

High-speed trains are environmentally friendly, carrying more passengers with less fuel consumption than airplanes.

They save time by avoiding airport procedures like boarding, check-in, takeoff, and disembarking, making travel more efficient and cost-effective.

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Maglev Trains

Maglev, short for magnetic levitation, is a transportation system that uses magnets to lift and propel trains without traditional wheels or tracks.

This technology eliminates friction and allows for high-speed travel than other types of trains. Maglev trains are smooth, quiet, and quick to accelerate and decelerate.

However, there are drawbacks. The construction cost is high, and the energy required to overcome drag and friction is substantial. Additionally, the comfort and safety of passengers are concerns.

Maglev trains are operational in only three countries: China, South Korea, and Japan. The benefits of these trains are overshadowed by the associated costs and risks, limiting their widespread adoption.

Commuter Trains

Regional trains connect suburbs to city centers, mainly for work commuters. They run during weekday rush hours, saving fuel costs by traveling in peak directions.

In the US, commuter trains are usually locomotives, while European regional trains have multiple electric units.

Commuter trains ease road traffic, reduce pollution, and accommodate standing passengers. Some carriages prioritize standing space over seats and accommodate wheelchairs, cycles, and prams.

Cities relying heavily on commuter trains may face congestion. For instance, Tokyo’s Yamanote Line serves 3.5 million daily passengers across 29 stations.

New York’s subway carries 5.7 million passengers daily across 472 stations. Modern types of trains have foldable seats, doors on both sides and double-decker options to address crowding.

Light Rail

Light rail, also known as Light-Rail Transit (LRT) or Electric Trolley System (LRV). It is a fast and efficient way of public transportation.

It uses fixed rails and electric-powered single cars or short trains designed for lighter passenger capacity, not vehicle weight. Light rail includes traditional trams to modern very-light or ultra-light rail systems.

Its resurgence is due to recognized health and environmental benefits and its ability to transport many passengers efficiently.

Light rail bridges the gap between local buses and heavy rail, providing a flexible solution to commuting challenges.

It excels in moving commuters to and from city centers faster than buses while being more cost-effective than heavy rail. It enhances urban mobility and contributes to a sustainable and eco-friendly transportation landscape.


Metro trains, often known as rapid or mass rapid transit (MRT), provide major cities with efficient, high-capacity public transportation. These types of electric train systems, which use fixed electric tracks, feature fast acceleration and high speeds.

These metropolitan transit networks can be built above or below ground, and many systems use a combination of both. A subway, tube, or underground is a type of rapid transit system that operates largely underground.

In congested nations, the name “metro” is synonymous with fast transit, and these systems are common in metropolitan areas.


A monorail is a special train system with just one track hanging from above or supported directly. The term “monorail” was first used by Eugen Langen in 1896 for elevated trains, like his One-railed Suspension Tramway.

Monorails are often found in cities with moderate traffic, running on tracks raised above the ground. Unlike regular trains, they use only one track and can be elevated or positioned above/below the train cars.

They’re commonly used for airport transportation because they need less space horizontally and vertically.


Trams are a kind of public transportation that uses street-embedded tracks. In the United Kingdom, it operates on embedded rails in metropolitan streets. In the United States, they are known as streetcars or trolleys. Overhead cables often power them.

Trams can be single units or connected in groups. They ride on rails across city streets, sometimes with their own designated lane.

The main difference from trains is that trams mainly use public roads, while trains have separate routes away from roads.

InterCity Trains

Intercity trains are like the roadrunners of the railway world. It is built for long journeys with fewer stops. It connects important railway junctions and state capitals.

These trains have reserved and unreserved seating, focusing on speed and direct connectivity. It moves fast and even gets priority on the tracks. Some have cafes, others just vending machines for snacks.

With their blend of speed and convenience, Intercity trains are popular for efficient transportation over medium to long distances.

Regional Trains

Regional Trains

Regional trains are like buses on rails, stopping frequently to connect towns and cities. They’re great for everyday travel, whether going to work, shopping, or attending events.

You can use them to commute from the suburbs to the city, travel between suburbs, or even hop from one city to another. They’re convenient for getting around without needing a car, especially for trips into busy urban areas.

Freight Trains

A freight train carries stuff, not people. It’s like a long chain of train cars pulled by powerful engines. These trains are sometimes called goods or cargo trains.

They help move things from where they’re made to where they need to go. These trains are super safe and eco-friendly.

Compared to trucks, they emit way less CO2 and use way less energy, making them a green choice for shipping goods.

Passenger Trains

A passenger train is a train designed for carrying people, not goods. It usually consists of passenger cars pulled by a locomotive or self-propelled railcars.

These trains serve as a public transportation option, connecting different places. Passenger trains have fewer stops than some other types, like EMUs, and provide amenities like toilets for a more comfortable travel experience. They are a convenient choice for regular commuters and travelers.

Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs)

A diesel multiple unit (DMU) train is a type of train powered by diesel engines. Unlike electric multiple-unit (EMU) trains, DMUs don’t need a separate locomotive.

DMU does not require a separate locomotive; more space in the train is available for passenger cabins.
It has driving cabs at both ends, so they can be operated from either end without turning around.

DMUs come in various configurations, like a 3-car set with two powered driving cars and a middle unpowered trailer car or a simpler 2-car set with one powered driving car and one unpowered trailer.

Electric Multiple Units (EMUs)

Electric Multiple Units (EMUs) are electric trains, eliminating the need for a separate locomotive. They consist of self-propelled carriages with built-in electric traction motors.

Most EMUs have multiple carriages joined together, but some are single cars. They’re mainly used for passengers, but some are made for carrying mail.

EMU design has been the same since 1900, but big improvements happened in the 1950s. These advancements made EMUs more efficient and better performers.

Double-Decker Trains

AC Double Decker Express trains have a unique two-level seating setup with 120 seats. The seating is split into lower, upper, and mezzanine areas for a comfortable and space-efficient layout.

These trains only use advanced stainless steel LHB Coaches, making the travel experience even better for passengers.

Night Trains

Night trains are designed for overnight travel, letting passengers rest with relaxing seats and private cabins. They’re efficient, minimizing overall travel time.

It has gained popularity in Europe as an alternative to flights. Unlike day trains, night trains operate once a day, focusing on optimizing sleep and travel experiences.

Bullet Trains

A bullet train is a super-fast passenger train running on special tracks. The first one, TĹŤkaidĹŤ Shinkansen, started in Japan in 1964. It can reach a top speed of 320 km/h.

Shinkansen uses electricity from wires above the tracks. With a sleek nose, it’s nicknamed the “bullet train.” It is safe and has modern features. It can carry over 1,000 passengers, making it efficient and spacious.

Cable Cars

Cable cars are a special type of railway that uses a constantly moving cable to pull rail cars. A fixed engine, sometimes underground, powers the cable.

They are also known as cable trams, aerial tramways, ropeways, or chairlifts. Cable cars are utilized for public transit, transporting people and products, and ascending mountains or steep hillsides.

A gripman in a cable car uses a device to grip the cable and start the car before releasing it to stop. They can start and stop by gripping and releasing the cable.

Rack Railways

A rack railway is a special mountain train that goes up steep hills. It has a toothed rack rail in the middle, and the train has special cog wheels that grip onto the rack rail for good traction.

This design allows the train to climb steep slopes, up to 1 in 5 gradients. People also call these trains cog railways or cogwheel railways, and they are great for going up challenging mountains.

Tourist Trains

A tourist train is a fun and unique way to experience historic train cars. These trains are designed like museums, allowing visitors to enjoy dining or sleeping in vintage-style cars.

They are usually made from renovated old trains or created to look like classic trains. It’s a cool and enjoyable experience for individuals, friends, and families who love sightseeing.

Airport People Movers

An automated people mover (APM) is a self-driving transportation system often used in tight spaces like airports, theme parks, or cities. APMs are like small automated trains that can carry up to 100 passengers.

They work well for short distances, where they frequently stop and start. A key feature is their ability to accelerate and decelerate quickly.

Unlike traditional trains with steel wheels on rails, APMs use rubber tires, making them more efficient for quick movements in their designated areas.

Hybrid Trains

Hybrid Trains
Credit – Alstom

A hybrid train is like a mix of regular and electric trains. It uses a special battery system placed between the engine and the wheels.

Instead of just relying on diesel fuel, it also uses electricity. When the train brakes, it converts some of that energy into electricity and stores it in a battery.

This energy is used later to help power the train, making it more fuel-efficient. The train has different modes that control how it uses energy and charges the battery.

These hybrid trains use less fuel, which is better for the environment because it reduces harmful emissions.

Articulated Trains

Articulated Trains

An articulated train is like a connected railroad team where the cars are joined together. Instead of each car having its wheels, they share a single set called a bogie. These trains are shorter than regular ones and have been around since the 1870s.

As the cars are connected makes things better for passengers. It’s safer, more comfortable, and can be faster. In these trains, the cars use the same wheel setup called “trucks,” with the cars next to them. It helps them work together smoothly.

Goods Wagons

Goods Wagons

A goods wagon, also called a freight wagon, is like a cargo truck for trains. It carries machines, equipment, long items, containers, and bulk goods.

Covered goods wagons are made for carrying things that can’t get wet. They have a fixed roof and enclosed sides to protect the cargo from the weather.

These wagons can carry up to 40 tons of heavy loads on big train tracks called broad-gauge lines. But on smaller tracks, called narrow-gauge lines, they carry a bit less, around 25 tons. It helps meet the different needs of different train systems.

Long Distance Trains

Long-distance trains are made for traveling between cities or countries. They often have a restaurant or dining car for meals and sleeping cars for overnight trips.

Even though people usually choose planes for distances over 500 miles, long-distance trains are a budget-friendly and popular option for extensive journeys.

Different countries have their unique long-distance trains to cater to travelers’ needs.

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