Transcontinental railroad
Overview
 
"Transcontinental Railroad" may also be referring to the "First Transcontinental Railroad
First Transcontinental Railroad
The First Transcontinental Railroad was a railroad line built in the United States of America between 1863 and 1869 by the Central Pacific Railroad of California and the Union Pacific Railroad that connected its statutory Eastern terminus at Council Bluffs, Iowa/Omaha, Nebraska The First...

"


A transcontinental railroad is a contiguous network of railroad trackage that crosses a continental land mass
Continent
A continent is one of several very large landmasses on Earth. They are generally identified by convention rather than any strict criteria, with seven regions commonly regarded as continents—they are : Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.Plate tectonics is...

 with terminals at different oceans or continental borders. Such networks can be via the tracks
Rail tracks
The track on a railway or railroad, also known as the permanent way, is the structure consisting of the rails, fasteners, sleepers and ballast , plus the underlying subgrade...

 of either a single railroad, or over those owned or controlled by multiple railway companies
Railway company
A railway company or railroad company is an entity that operates a railroad track and/or trains. Such a company can either be private or public...

 along a continuous route.
Encyclopedia
"Transcontinental Railroad" may also be referring to the "First Transcontinental Railroad
First Transcontinental Railroad
The First Transcontinental Railroad was a railroad line built in the United States of America between 1863 and 1869 by the Central Pacific Railroad of California and the Union Pacific Railroad that connected its statutory Eastern terminus at Council Bluffs, Iowa/Omaha, Nebraska The First...

"


A transcontinental railroad is a contiguous network of railroad trackage that crosses a continental land mass
Continent
A continent is one of several very large landmasses on Earth. They are generally identified by convention rather than any strict criteria, with seven regions commonly regarded as continents—they are : Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.Plate tectonics is...

 with terminals at different oceans or continental borders. Such networks can be via the tracks
Rail tracks
The track on a railway or railroad, also known as the permanent way, is the structure consisting of the rails, fasteners, sleepers and ballast , plus the underlying subgrade...

 of either a single railroad, or over those owned or controlled by multiple railway companies
Railway company
A railway company or railroad company is an entity that operates a railroad track and/or trains. Such a company can either be private or public...

 along a continuous route. Although Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 is crisscrossed by railways, the railroads within Europe are usually not considered transcontinental, with the possible exception of the historic Orient Express
Orient Express
The Orient Express is the name of a long-distance passenger train service originally operated by the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits. It ran from 1883 to 2009 and is not to be confused with the Venice-Simplon Orient Express train service, which continues to run.The route and rolling stock...

.

Transcontinental railroads helped open up unpopulated interior regions of continents to exploration and settlement that would not otherwise have been feasible. In many cases they also formed the backbones of cross-country passenger and freight transportation networks.

In the United States of America, transcontinental railroads created a nation-wide transportation network that united the country. This network replaced the wagon trains of previous decades and allowed for the transportation of larger quantities of goods over longer distances.

United States

A transcontinental railroad in the United States' is any continuous rail line connecting a location on the U.S. Pacific coast with one or more of the railroads of the nation's eastern trunk line rail systems operating between the Missouri
Missouri River
The Missouri River flows through the central United States, and is a tributary of the Mississippi River. It is the longest river in North America and drains the third largest area, though only the thirteenth largest by discharge. The Missouri's watershed encompasses most of the American Great...

 and/or Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

s and the U.S Atlantic coast. The first concrete plan for a transcontinental railroad in the United States was presented to Congress by Asa Whitney
Asa Whitney
Asa Whitney was an American merchant and great railroad promoter. Whitney lived in New Rochelle, New York, just to the north of New York City where he was a highly successful dry-goods merchant....

 in 1845.

The world's First Transcontinental Railroad
First Transcontinental Railroad
The First Transcontinental Railroad was a railroad line built in the United States of America between 1863 and 1869 by the Central Pacific Railroad of California and the Union Pacific Railroad that connected its statutory Eastern terminus at Council Bluffs, Iowa/Omaha, Nebraska The First...

 was built between 1863 and 1869 to join the eastern and western halves of the United States. Begun just preceding the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, its construction was considered to be one of the greatest American technological feats of the 19th century. Known as the "Pacific Railroad" when it opened, this served as a vital link for trade, commerce, and travel and opened up vast regions of the North American heartland for settlement. Shipping and commerce could thrive away from navigable watercourses for the first time since the beginning of the nation. Much of this line is currently used by the California Zephyr
California Zephyr
The California Zephyr is a long passenger train route operated by Amtrak in the midwestern and western United States.It runs from Chicago, Illinois, in the east to Emeryville, California, in the west, passing through the states of Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California...

, although some parts were rerouted or abandoned.

The coming of the railroad resulted in the end of most of the far slower and more hazardous stagecoach
Stagecoach
A stagecoach is a type of covered wagon for passengers and goods, strongly sprung and drawn by four horses, usually four-in-hand. Widely used before the introduction of railway transport, it made regular trips between stages or stations, which were places of rest provided for stagecoach travelers...

 lines and wagon train
Wagon train
A wagon train is a group of wagons traveling together. In the American West, individuals traveling across the plains in covered wagons banded together for mutual assistance, as is reflected in numerous films and television programs about the region, such as Audie Murphy's Tumbleweed and Ward Bond...

s, and it led to a great decline of traffic on the Oregon and California Trail
Oregon Trail
The Oregon Trail is a historic east-west wagon route that connected the Missouri River to valleys in Oregon and locations in between.After 1840 steam-powered riverboats and steamboats traversing up and down the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri rivers sped settlement and development in the flat...

, which had helped populate much of the West. The transcontinental railroad provided much faster, safer, and cheaper transportation (one week from Omaha to San Francisco via emigrant sleeping car at a fare of about $65 for an adult) for people and goods across the western two-thirds of the continent. The sale of the railroad land grant lands and the transport provided for timber and crops led to the rapid settling of the "Great American Desert". Among the main workers on the Union Pacific were many Army veterans and Irish
Irish people
The Irish people are an ethnic group who originate in Ireland, an island in northwestern Europe. Ireland has been populated for around 9,000 years , with the Irish people's earliest ancestors recorded having legends of being descended from groups such as the Nemedians, Fomorians, Fir Bolg, Tuatha...

 emigrants while most of the engineers were ex-Army men who had learned their trade keeping the trains running during the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. The Central Pacific Railroad, facing a labor shortage in the more sparsely-settled West, relied on Chinese
Chinese people
The term Chinese people may refer to any of the following:*People with Han Chinese ethnicity ....

 laborers who did prodigious work building the line over and through the Sierra Nevada mountains and then across Nevada
Nevada
Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

 to their meeting in northern Utah
Utah
Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...

.
  • A motive for the Gadsden Purchase
    Gadsden Purchase
    The Gadsden Purchase is a region of present-day southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico that was purchased by the United States in a treaty signed by James Gadsden, the American ambassador to Mexico at the time, on December 30, 1853. It was then ratified, with changes, by the U.S...

     of land from Mexico in 1853 was to provide suitable terrain for a southern transcontinental railroad, since the topography of the southern portion of the existing Mexican Cession
    Mexican Cession
    The Mexican Cession of 1848 is a historical name in the United States for the region of the present day southwestern United States that Mexico ceded to the U.S...

     land was too mountain
    Mountain
    Image:Himalaya_annotated.jpg|thumb|right|The Himalayan mountain range with Mount Everestrect 58 14 160 49 Chomo Lonzorect 200 28 335 52 Makalurect 378 24 566 45 Mount Everestrect 188 581 920 656 Tibetan Plateaurect 250 406 340 427 Rong River...

    ous. The Southern Pacific Railroad
    Southern Pacific Railroad
    The Southern Pacific Transportation Company , earlier Southern Pacific Railroad and Southern Pacific Company, and usually simply called the Southern Pacific or Espee, was an American railroad....

     was completed in 1881.
  • The Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 (based on an earlier bill in 1856) authorized land grants for new lines that would "aid in the construction of a railroad and telegraph line from the Missouri river to the Pacific ocean".
  • The rails of the "First Transcontinental Railroad
    First Transcontinental Railroad
    The First Transcontinental Railroad was a railroad line built in the United States of America between 1863 and 1869 by the Central Pacific Railroad of California and the Union Pacific Railroad that connected its statutory Eastern terminus at Council Bluffs, Iowa/Omaha, Nebraska The First...

    " were joined on May 10, 1869, with the ceremonial driving of the "Last Spike"
    Golden spike
    The "Golden Spike" is the ceremonial final spike driven by Leland Stanford to join the rails of the First Transcontinental Railroad across the United States connecting the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads on May 10, 1869, at Promontory Summit, Utah Territory...

     at Promontory Summit, Utah, after track was laid over a 1756 miles (2,826 km) gap between Sacramento
    Sacramento, California
    Sacramento is the capital city of the U.S. state of California and the county seat of Sacramento County. It is located at the confluence of the Sacramento River and the American River in the northern portion of California's expansive Central Valley. With a population of 466,488 at the 2010 census,...

     and Omaha, Nebraska
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Omaha is the largest city in the state of Nebraska, United States, and is the county seat of Douglas County. It is located in the Midwestern United States on the Missouri River, about 20 miles north of the mouth of the Platte River...

    /Council Bluffs, Iowa
    Council Bluffs, Iowa
    Council Bluffs, known until 1852 as Kanesville, Iowathe historic starting point of the Mormon Trail and eventual northernmost anchor town of the other emigrant trailsis a city in and the county seat of Pottawattamie County, Iowa, United States and is on the east bank of the Missouri River across...

      in six years by the Union Pacific Railroad
    Union Pacific Railroad
    The Union Pacific Railroad , headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, is the largest railroad network in the United States. James R. Young is president, CEO and Chairman....

     and Central Pacific Railroad
    Central Pacific Railroad
    The Central Pacific Railroad is the former name of the railroad network built between California and Utah, USA that formed part of the "First Transcontinental Railroad" in North America. It is now part of the Union Pacific Railroad. Many 19th century national proposals to build a transcontinental...

    . Although through train service was in operation as of that date, the road was not deemed to have been officially "completed" until November 6, 1869. (A physical connection between Omaha, Nebraska
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Omaha is the largest city in the state of Nebraska, United States, and is the county seat of Douglas County. It is located in the Midwestern United States on the Missouri River, about 20 miles north of the mouth of the Platte River...

     and the statutory Eastern terminus of the Pacific road at Council Bluffs, Iowa
    Council Bluffs, Iowa
    Council Bluffs, known until 1852 as Kanesville, Iowathe historic starting point of the Mormon Trail and eventual northernmost anchor town of the other emigrant trailsis a city in and the county seat of Pottawattamie County, Iowa, United States and is on the east bank of the Missouri River across...

     located immediately across the Missouri River
    Missouri River
    The Missouri River flows through the central United States, and is a tributary of the Mississippi River. It is the longest river in North America and drains the third largest area, though only the thirteenth largest by discharge. The Missouri's watershed encompasses most of the American Great...

     was also not finally established until the opening of UPRR railroad bridge across the river on March 25, 1873, prior to which transfers were made by ferry operated by the Council Bluffs & Nebraska Ferry Company.)
  • In 1882 the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway
    Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway
    The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway , often abbreviated as Santa Fe, was one of the larger railroads in the United States. The company was first chartered in February 1859...

     connected Atchison, Kansas
    Atchison, Kansas
    Atchison is a city situated along the Missouri River in the eastern part of Atchison County, located in northeast Kansas, in the Central United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 11,021. It is the county seat and most populous city of Atchison County...

     with the Southern Pacific Railroad
    Southern Pacific Railroad
    The Southern Pacific Transportation Company , earlier Southern Pacific Railroad and Southern Pacific Company, and usually simply called the Southern Pacific or Espee, was an American railroad....

     at Deming, New Mexico
    Deming, New Mexico
    Deming is a city in Luna County, New Mexico, United States, located 60 miles west of Las Cruces. The population was 14,116 at the 2000 census. Deming is the county seat and principal town of Luna County.-History:...

    , thus completing a second link to Los Angeles
    Los Angeles, California
    Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

    .
  • The Southern Pacific Railroad
    Southern Pacific Railroad
    The Southern Pacific Transportation Company , earlier Southern Pacific Railroad and Southern Pacific Company, and usually simply called the Southern Pacific or Espee, was an American railroad....

     linked New Orleans
    New Orleans, Louisiana
    New Orleans is a major United States port and the largest city and metropolitan area in the state of Louisiana. The New Orleans metropolitan area has a population of 1,235,650 as of 2009, the 46th largest in the USA. The New Orleans – Metairie – Bogalusa combined statistical area has a population...

     with Los Angeles
    Los Angeles, California
    Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

     in 1883, linking the Gulf of Mexico with the Pacific Ocean.
  • The Northern Pacific Railway
    Northern Pacific Railway
    The Northern Pacific Railway was a railway that operated in the west along the Canadian border of the United States. Construction began in 1870 and the main line opened all the way from the Great Lakes to the Pacific when former president Ulysses S. Grant drove in the final "golden spike" in...

    , also completed in 1883, linked Chicago
    Chicago
    Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

     with Seattle
    Seattle, Washington
    Seattle is the county seat of King County, Washington. With 608,660 residents as of the 2010 Census, Seattle is the largest city in the Northwestern United States. The Seattle metropolitan area of about 3.4 million inhabitants is the 15th largest metropolitan area in the country...

    .
  • The Great Northern Railway was built, without federal aid, by James J. Hill
    James J. Hill
    James Jerome Hill , was a Canadian-American railroad executive. He was the chief executive officer of a family of lines headed by the Great Northern Railway, which served a substantial area of the Upper Midwest, the northern Great Plains, and Pacific Northwest...

     in 1893; it stretched from St. Paul
    Saint Paul, Minnesota
    Saint Paul is the capital and second-most populous city of the U.S. state of Minnesota. The city lies mostly on the east bank of the Mississippi River in the area surrounding its point of confluence with the Minnesota River, and adjoins Minneapolis, the state's largest city...

     to Seattle
    Seattle, Washington
    Seattle is the county seat of King County, Washington. With 608,660 residents as of the 2010 Census, Seattle is the largest city in the Northwestern United States. The Seattle metropolitan area of about 3.4 million inhabitants is the 15th largest metropolitan area in the country...

    .
  • In 1909 the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul (or Milwaukee Road) completed a privately built Pacific extension to Seattle. On completion the line was renamed the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific. Although the Pacific Extension was privately funded, predecessor roads did benefit from the federal land grant
    Pacific Railway Acts
    The Pacific Railroad Acts were a series of acts of Congress that promoted the construction of the transcontinental railroad in the United States through authorizing the issuance of government bonds and the grants of land to railroad companies. The Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 was the original act...

     act, so it can not be said to have been built without federal aid.
  • John D. Spreckels
    John D. Spreckels
    John Diedrich Spreckels , the son of German-American industrialist Claus Spreckels, founded a transportation and real estate empire in San Diego, California in the late 19th and early 20th centuries...

     completed his privately funded San Diego and Arizona Railway
    San Diego and Arizona Railway
    The San Diego and Arizona Railway was a short line American railroad founded by "sugar heir," developer, and entrepreneur John D. Spreckels, and dubbed "The Impossible Railroad" by many engineers of its day due to the immense logistical challenges involved...

     in 1919, thereby creating a direct link (via connection with the Southern Pacific lines) between San Diego, California
    San Diego, California
    San Diego is the eighth-largest city in the United States and second-largest city in California. The city is located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California, immediately adjacent to the Mexican border. The birthplace of California, San Diego is known for its mild year-round...

     and the Eastern United States
    Eastern United States
    The Eastern United States, the American East, or simply the East is traditionally defined as the states east of the Mississippi River. The first two tiers of states west of the Mississippi have traditionally been considered part of the West, but can be included in the East today; usually in...

    . The railroad stretched 148 miles (238.2 km) from San Diego to Calexico, California
    Calexico, California
    Calexico is a city in Imperial County, California. The population was 38,572 at the 2010 census, up from 27,109 at the 2000 census. Calexico is about east of San Diego and west of Yuma, Arizona...

    .
  • In 1993 Amtrak
    Amtrak
    The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, doing business as Amtrak , is a government-owned corporation that was organized on May 1, 1971, to provide intercity passenger train service in the United States. "Amtrak" is a portmanteau of the words "America" and "track". It is headquartered at Union...

    's Sunset Limited
    Sunset Limited
    The Sunset Limited is a passenger train that for most of its history has run between New Orleans, Louisiana and Los Angeles, California, and that from early 1993 through late August 2005 also ran east of New Orleans to Jacksonville, Florida, making it during that time the only true transcontinental...

    daily railroad train was extended eastward to the Atlantic Ocean
    Atlantic Ocean
    The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

    , making it the first transcontinental passenger train route in the United States to be operated by a single company. Hurricane Katrina
    Hurricane Katrina
    Hurricane Katrina of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was a powerful Atlantic hurricane. It is the costliest natural disaster, as well as one of the five deadliest hurricanes, in the history of the United States. Among recorded Atlantic hurricanes, it was the sixth strongest overall...

     cut this rail route in Louisiana
    Louisiana
    Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

     in 2005. The train now runs Los Angeles to New Orleans.

George J. Gould attempted to assemble a truly transcontinental system in the 1900s. The line from San Francisco, California
San Francisco, California
San Francisco , officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the financial, cultural, and transportation center of the San Francisco Bay Area, a region of 7.15 million people which includes San Jose and Oakland...

, to Toledo, Ohio
Toledo, Ohio
Toledo is the fourth most populous city in the U.S. state of Ohio and is the county seat of Lucas County. Toledo is in northwest Ohio, on the western end of Lake Erie, and borders the State of Michigan...

, was completed in 1909, consisting of the Western Pacific Railway, Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, Missouri Pacific Railroad
Missouri Pacific Railroad
The Missouri Pacific Railroad , also known as the MoPac, was one of the first railroads in the United States west of the Mississippi River. MoPac was a Class I railroad growing from dozens of predecessors and mergers, including the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway , Texas and Pacific...

, and the Wabash Railroad
Wabash Railroad
The Wabash Railroad was a Class I railroad that operated in the mid-central United States. It served a large area, including trackage in the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri and Ontario. Its primary connections included Chicago, Illinois, Kansas City, Missouri, Detroit,...

. Beyond Toledo, the planned route would have used the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad (1900), Wabash Pittsburgh Terminal Railway, Little Kanawha Railroad, West Virginia Central and Pittsburgh Railway, Western Maryland Railroad and Philadelphia and Western Railway, but the Panic of 1907
Panic of 1907
The Panic of 1907, also known as the 1907 Bankers' Panic, was a financial crisis that occurred in the United States when the New York Stock Exchange fell almost 50% from its peak the previous year. Panic occurred, as this was during a time of economic recession, and there were numerous runs on...

 strangled the plans before the Little Kanawha section in West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

 could be finished. The Alphabet Route
Alphabet Route
The Alphabet Route was a coalition of railroads connecting the Midwest United States with the Northeast, as a freight alternate to the four major systems - the Pennsylvania Railroad, New York Central Railroad, Erie Railroad and Baltimore and Ohio Railroad...

 was completed in 1931, providing the portion of this line east of the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

. With the merging of the railroads, only the Union Pacific Railroad and the BNSF Railway
BNSF Railway
The BNSF Railway is a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., and is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. It is one of seven North American Class I railroads and the second largest freight railroad network in North America, second only to the Union Pacific Railroad, its primary...

 remain to carry the entire route.

Canada

The completion of Canada's first transcontinental railroad, on November 7, 1885 is an important milestone in Canadian history
History of Canada
The history of Canada covers the period from the arrival of Paleo-Indians thousands of years ago to the present day. Canada has been inhabited for millennia by distinctive groups of Aboriginal peoples, among whom evolved trade networks, spiritual beliefs, and social hierarchies...

. Between 1881 and 1885, the Canadian Pacific Railway
Canadian Pacific Railway
The Canadian Pacific Railway , formerly also known as CP Rail between 1968 and 1996, is a historic Canadian Class I railway founded in 1881 and now operated by Canadian Pacific Railway Limited, which began operations as legal owner in a corporate restructuring in 2001...

 (CPR) completed a line between Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

 and the Pacific coast, fulfilling a condition of British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

's 1871 entry into the Canadian Confederation
Canadian Confederation
Canadian Confederation was the process by which the federal Dominion of Canada was formed on July 1, 1867. On that day, three British colonies were formed into four Canadian provinces...

. The City of Vancouver
Vancouver
Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. It is the hub of Greater Vancouver, which, with over 2.3 million residents, is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country,...

, incorporated in 1886, was designated the western terminus of the line. The CPR became the first transcontinental railway company in North America in 1889 after its International Railway of Maine opened, connecting CPR to the Atlantic coast.

The construction of a transcontinental railroad had the effect of establishing a Canadian claim to the remaining parts of British North America
British North America
British North America is a historical term. It consisted of the colonies and territories of the British Empire in continental North America after the end of the American Revolutionary War and the recognition of American independence in 1783.At the start of the Revolutionary War in 1775 the British...

 not yet constituted as provinces and territories of Canada
Provinces and territories of Canada
The provinces and territories of Canada combine to make up the world's second-largest country by area. There are ten provinces and three territories...

, acting as a bulwark against potential incursions by the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

.

Subsequently, two other transcontinental lines were built in Canada: the Canadian Northern Railway
Canadian Northern Railway
The Canadian Northern Railway is a historic Canadian transcontinental railway. At its demise in 1923, when it was merged into the Canadian National Railway , the CNoR owned a main line between Quebec City and Vancouver via Ottawa, Winnipeg, and Edmonton.-Manitoba beginnings:CNoR had its start in...

 (CNoR) opened another line to the Pacific in 1912, and the combined Grand Trunk Pacific Railway
Grand Trunk Pacific Railway
The Grand Trunk Pacific Railway was a historical Canadian railway.A wholly owned subsidiary of the Grand Trunk Railway , the GTPR was constructed by GTR using loans provided by the Government of Canada. The company was formed in 1903 with a mandate to build west from Winnipeg, Manitoba to the...

 (GTPR)/National Transcontinental Railway
National Transcontinental Railway
The National Transcontinental Railway was a historic Canadian railway between Winnipeg and Moncton. Much of the line is now operated by the Canadian National Railway.-The Grand Trunk partnership:...

 (NTR) system opened in 1917 following the completion of the Quebec Bridge
Quebec Bridge
right|thumb|Lifting the centre span in place was considered to be a major engineering achievement. Photo caption from [[Popular Mechanics]] Magazine, December 1917...

, although its line to the Pacific opened in 1914. The CNoR, GTPR, and NTR were nationalized to form the Canadian National Railway
Canadian National Railway
The Canadian National Railway Company is a Canadian Class I railway headquartered in Montreal, Quebec. CN's slogan is "North America's Railroad"....

, which remains Canada's "other" transcontinental railway.

Panama

The first railroad to directly connect two oceans (although not by crossing a broad "continental" land mass) was the Panama Rail Road
Panama Railway
The Panama Canal Railway Company is a railway line that links the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean across Panama in Central America. It is jointly owned by the Kansas City Southern Railway and Mi-Jack Products...

. Opened in 1855, this 48 miles (77.2 km) line was designated instead as an "inter-oceanic" railroad crossing Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

 at its narrowest point, the Isthmus of Panama
Isthmus of Panama
The Isthmus of Panama, also historically known as the Isthmus of Darien, is the narrow strip of land that lies between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, linking North and South America. It contains the country of Panama and the Panama Canal...

, when that area was still part of the northern province of Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

 from which it would split off
Separation of Panama from Colombia
The Separation of Panama from Colombia was formalized on 3 November 1903 with the establishment of the Republic of Panama from the Republic of Colombia's Department of Panama.-Prelude:...

 to become the independent nation of Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

 in 1903. By spanning the isthmus, the line thus became the first railroad to completely cross any part of the Americas and physically connect ports on the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean
Ocean
An ocean is a major body of saline water, and a principal component of the hydrosphere. Approximately 71% of the Earth's surface is covered by ocean, a continuous body of water that is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas.More than half of this area is over 3,000...

s. Given the tropical rain forest environment, the terrain, and diseases such as malaria
Malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

 and cholera
Cholera
Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The main symptoms are profuse watery diarrhea and vomiting. Transmission occurs primarily by drinking or eating water or food that has been contaminated by the diarrhea of an infected person or the feces...

, its completion was a considerable engineering challenge. The construction took five years after ground was first broken for the line in May, 1850, cost eight million dollars, and required more than seven thousand workers drawn from "every quarter of the globe."

This railway was built to satisfy the need for a shorter and more secure path between the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

' East
East Coast of the United States
The East Coast of the United States, also known as the Eastern Seaboard, refers to the easternmost coastal states in the United States, which touch the Atlantic Ocean and stretch up to Canada. The term includes the U.S...

 and West
West Coast of the United States
West Coast or Pacific Coast are terms for the westernmost coastal states of the United States. The term most often refers to the states of California, Oregon, and Washington. Although not part of the contiguous United States, Alaska and Hawaii do border the Pacific Ocean but can't be included in...

 Coasts, a need triggered mainly by the California Gold Rush
California Gold Rush
The California Gold Rush began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California. The first to hear confirmed information of the gold rush were the people in Oregon, the Sandwich Islands , and Latin America, who were the first to start flocking to...

. Over the years it played a key role in the construction and the subsequent operation of the Panama Canal
Panama Canal
The Panama Canal is a ship canal in Panama that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. Built from 1904 to 1914, the canal has seen annual traffic rise from about 1,000 ships early on to 14,702 vessels measuring a total of 309.6...

, due to its proximity with the water way. Currently, the railway operates under the private administration of the Panama Canal Railroad Company, and its upgraded capacity complements the cargo traffic through the Panama Canal.

Guatemala

A second Central American inter-oceanic railroad began operation in 1908 as a connection between Puerto San José
Puerto San José
Puerto San José is a city on Guatemala's Pacific Ocean coast, in the department of Escuintla. It contains about 20,000 people, making it the largest place along the Pacific coast of Guatemala. It was the Pacific port for Guatemala, but this was superseded in the 20th century by Puerto Quetzal, a...

 and Puerto Barrios
Puerto Barrios
Puerto Barrios is a city in Guatemala, located within the Gulf of Honduras at. The bay in which the harbour is located is called Bahia de Amatique. Puerto Barrios is the departmental seat of Izabal department and the administrative seat of Puerto Barrios municipality.Puerto Barrios was named after...

 in Guatemala, but ceased passenger service to Puerto San José in 1989.

Costa Rica

A third Central American inter-oceanic railroad began operation in 1910 as a connection between Puntarenas
Puntarenas
Puntarenas is the capital and largest city in the province Puntarenas, Costa Rica, at the Pacific coast. The eponymous and oddly shaped province has its largest section in the South, far from the capital.Some 100,000 live in the city and close towns...

 and Limón
Limón
Puerto Limón, commonly known as Limón , is the capital city and main hub of Limón province, as well as of the cantón of Limón in Costa Rica. It has a population of about 60,000 , and is home to a thriving Afro-Caribbean community...

 which was gauge.

South America

There is activity to revive the connection between Valparaíso and Santiago
Santiago, Chile
Santiago , also known as Santiago de Chile, is the capital and largest city of Chile, and the center of its largest conurbation . It is located in the country's central valley, at an elevation of above mean sea level...

 in Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

 and Mendoza
Mendoza, Argentina
Mendoza is the capital city of Mendoza Province, in Argentina. It is located in the northern-central part of the province, in a region of foothills and high plains, on the eastern side of the Andes. As of the , Mendoza's population was 110,993...

, Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, through the Transandino project. Mendoza has an active connection to Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, and the second-largest metropolitan area in South America, after São Paulo. It is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the southeastern coast of the South American continent...

. The old Transandino began in 1910 and ceased passenger service in 1978 and freight 4 years later... Technically a complete transcontinental link exists from Arica
Arica, Chile
Arica is a commune and a port city with a population of 185,269 in the Arica Province of northern Chile's Arica and Parinacota Region, located only south of the border with Peru. The city is the capital of both the Arica Province and the Arica and Parinacota Region...

, Chile, to La Paz
La Paz
Nuestra Señora de La Paz is the administrative capital of Bolivia, as well as the departmental capital of the La Paz Department, and the second largest city in the country after Santa Cruz de la Sierra...

, Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

, to Buenos Aires, but this trans-Andean crossing is for freight only.

Another longer Transcontinental freight-only railroad linking Caracas
Caracas
Caracas , officially Santiago de León de Caracas, is the capital and largest city of Venezuela; natives or residents are known as Caraquenians in English . It is located in the northern part of the country, following the contours of the narrow Caracas Valley on the Venezuelan coastal mountain range...

, Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

, to Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro , commonly referred to simply as Rio, is the capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city of Brazil, and the third largest metropolitan area and agglomeration in South America, boasting approximately 6.3 million people within the city proper, making it the 6th...

, Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 is under development.

Eurasia

  • The first Eurasia
    Eurasia
    Eurasia is a continent or supercontinent comprising the traditional continents of Europe and Asia ; covering about 52,990,000 km2 or about 10.6% of the Earth's surface located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres...

    n transcontinental railroad was the Trans-Siberian railway
    Trans-Siberian Railway
    The Trans-Siberian Railway is a network of railways connecting Moscow with the Russian Far East and the Sea of Japan. It is the longest railway in the world...

     (with connecting lines in Europe), completed in 1905 which connects Moscow
    Moscow
    Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

     with Vladivostok
    Vladivostok
    The city is located in the southern extremity of Muravyov-Amursky Peninsula, which is about 30 km long and approximately 12 km wide.The highest point is Mount Kholodilnik, the height of which is 257 m...

     on the Pacific coast. There are two connections from this line to China
    China
    Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

    . It is the world's longest rail line at 9289 km (5,771.9 mi) long. This line connects the European Railroad System with China, Mongolia
    Mongolia
    Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

     and Korea
    Korea
    Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

    . Since the former Soviet Countries and Mongolia use a broader gauge
    Russian gauge
    In railway terminology, Russian gauge refers to railway track with a gauge between 1,520 mm and . In a narrow sense as defined by Russian Railways it refers to gauge....

    , a break of gauge is necessary either at the Eastern frontiers of Poland
    Poland
    Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

    , Slovakia
    Slovakia
    The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

    , Hungary
    Hungary
    Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

     and Romania
    Romania
    Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

     or the Chinese border. In spite of this there are through services of passenger trains between Moscow and Beijing or through coaches from Berlin to Novosibirsk. Almost every major town along the Trans-Siberian railway has its own return service to Moscow.
  • A second rail line connects Istanbul in Turkey with China
    China
    Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

     via Iran
    Iran
    Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

    , Turkmenistan
    Turkmenistan
    Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

    , Uzbekistan
    Uzbekistan
    Uzbekistan , officially the Republic of Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia and one of the six independent Turkic states. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south....

     and Kazakhstan
    Kazakhstan
    Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

    . This route imposes a break of gauge at the Iranian border with Turkmenistan and at the Chinese border. En route there is also a train ferry
    Train ferry
    A train ferry is a ship designed to carry railway vehicles. Typically, one level of the ship is fitted with railway tracks, and the vessel has a door at the front and/or rear to give access to the wharves. In the United States, train ferries are sometimes referred to as "car ferries", as...

     in Eastern Turkey across Lake Van
    Lake Van
    Lake Van is the largest lake in Turkey, located in the far east of the country in Van district. It is a saline and soda lake, receiving water from numerous small streams that descend from the surrounding mountains. Lake Van is one of the world's largest endorheic lakes . The original outlet from...

    . The European and Asian parts of Istanbul are currently linked by a train ferry, but an undersea tunnel is under construction. There is no through service of passenger trains on the entire line. A uniform gauge connection was proposed in 2006, commencing with new construction in Kazakhstan
    Qazaqstan Temir Zholy
    Kazakhstan Temir Zholy , also National Company Kazakhstan Temir Zholy, is the national railway company of Kazakhstan.-Organization:...

    . A decision to make the internal railways of Afghanistan gauge potentially opens up a new standard gauge route to China, since China abuts this country.

Asia

  • The Trans-Asian Railway
    Trans-Asian Railway
    The Trans-Asian Railway is a project to create an integrated freight railway network across Europe and Asia. The TAR is a project of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific .- Overview :...

     is a project to link Singapore
    Singapore
    Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

     to Istanbul
    Istanbul
    Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

     and is to a large degree complete with missing pieces primarily between Iran
    Iran
    Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

     and Pakistan
    Pakistan
    Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

     (under construction in 2005), and in Myanmar
    Myanmar
    Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea on the south....

    , aside from political issues. The project has also linking corridors to China
    China
    Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

    , the central Asian states, and Russia
    Russia
    Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

    . This transcontinental line unfortunately uses a number of different gauges, , , and , though this problem may be lessened with the use of variable gauge axle systems such as the SUW 2000
    SUW 2000
    SUW 2000 is a type of variable gauge system that allows a train to travel across a railway break-of-gauge.The SUW 2000 design is manufactured by Polish company ZNTK Poznań for Polish State Railways...

    .
    • The Zahedan connection opened in August 2008.
  • The TransKazakhstanTrunk Railways project by Kazakhstan Temir Zholy will connect China
    China
    Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

     and Europe at a gauge of . Construction is set to start in 2006. Initially the line will go to western Kazakhstan
    Kazakhstan
    Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

    , south through Turkmenistan
    Turkmenistan
    Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

     to Iran
    Iran
    Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

    , then to Turkey
    Turkey
    Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

     and Europe. A shorter to-be-constructed link from Kazakhstan is considered going through Russia and either Belarus
    Belarus
    Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

     or Ukraine
    Ukraine
    Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

    .
  • The Baghdad Railway
    Baghdad Railway
    The Baghdad Railway , was built from 1903 to 1940 to connect Berlin with the Ottoman Empire city of Baghdad with a line through modern-day Turkey, Syria, and Iraq....

     connects Istanbul with Baghdad and finally Basra, a sea port at the Persian Gulf. When its construction started in the 1880s it was in those times a Transcontinental Railroad.

East-West

  • The first Trans-Australian Railway
    Trans-Australian Railway
    The Trans-Australian Railway crosses the Nullarbor Plain of Australia from Port Augusta in South Australia to Kalgoorlie in Western Australia...

     was completed in 1917, between Port Augusta
    Port Augusta, South Australia
    -Electricity generation:Electricity is generated at the Playford B and Northern power stations from brown coal mined at Leigh Creek, 250 km to the north...

     and Kalgoorlie
    Kalgoorlie, Western Australia
    Kalgoorlie, known as Kalgoorlie-Boulder, is a town in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia, and is located east-northeast of state capital Perth at the end of the Great Eastern Highway...

    , and crosses the Nullarbor Plain
    Nullarbor Plain
    The Nullarbor Plain is part of the area of flat, almost treeless, arid or semi-arid country of southern Australia, located on the Great Australian Bight coast with the Great Victoria Desert to its north. It is the world's largest single piece of limestone, and occupies an area of about...

    . This line completed the link between the mainland state capitals of Brisbane
    Brisbane
    Brisbane is the capital and most populous city in the Australian state of Queensland and the third most populous city in Australia. Brisbane's metropolitan area has a population of over 2 million, and the South East Queensland urban conurbation, centred around Brisbane, encompasses a population of...

     then Sydney
    Sydney
    Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and the state capital of New South Wales. Sydney is located on Australia's south-east coast of the Tasman Sea. As of June 2010, the greater metropolitan area had an approximate population of 4.6 million people...

     via Melbourne
    Melbourne
    Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The Melbourne City Centre is the hub of the greater metropolitan area and the Census statistical division—of which "Melbourne" is the common name. As of June 2009, the greater...

     and Adelaide
    Adelaide
    Adelaide is the capital city of South Australia and the fifth-largest city in Australia. Adelaide has an estimated population of more than 1.2 million...

     to the western state capital of Perth
    Perth, Western Australia
    Perth is the capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia and the fourth most populous city in Australia. The Perth metropolitan area has an estimated population of almost 1,700,000....

    . This route suffered from a number of breaks-of-gauge, using twice, once, and thrice, with five breaks-of-gauge in all.


The Trans-Australian Railway was the first route operated by the Federal Government.

In the 1940s, 1970s, and 2000s steps were taken to rationalise the gauge chaos and connect the mainland capital cities mentioned above with a streamlined uniform gauge system. Since 1970, when the direct line across the country was all completed as standard gauge, the passenger train on the Sydney
Sydney
Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and the state capital of New South Wales. Sydney is located on Australia's south-east coast of the Tasman Sea. As of June 2010, the greater metropolitan area had an approximate population of 4.6 million people...

 to Perth
Perth, Western Australia
Perth is the capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia and the fourth most populous city in Australia. The Perth metropolitan area has an estimated population of almost 1,700,000....

 line has been called the Indian Pacific.

The proposed Iron Boomerang
Iron Boomerang
The Iron Boomerang is a proposed transcontinental railway in northern Australia. The , $A6.5 billion railway line would link the coal-rich areas of northern Queensland with the iron ore producing areas of the Pilbara, Western Australia...

 would connect iron in the Pilbara with coal in Queensland
Queensland
Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

, so achieving loaded operations in both directions.

North-South

  • An 820 miles (1,319.7 km) long land grant railway from Charleville
    Charleville, Queensland
    Charleville is a town in south western Queensland, Australia, 758 kilometres by road west of Brisbane . It is the largest town and administrative centre of the Murweh Shire, which covers an area of 43,905 square kilometres...

     to Point Parker
    Point Parker
    Point Parker is a desolate place in Queensland on the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria opposite Allen Island and south of Mornington Island. The point is distinctive as the coast makes a 135 degree turn at this location.- Transcontinental railway :...

      on the Gulf of Carpentaria
    Gulf of Carpentaria
    The Gulf of Carpentaria is a large, shallow sea enclosed on three sides by northern Australia and bounded on the north by the Arafura Sea...

    , with branches, was proposed in the 1880s, but never amounted to anything.
  • The first north-south trans-Australia railway opened in January 2004 and links Darwin to Adelaide
    Adelaide
    Adelaide is the capital city of South Australia and the fifth-largest city in Australia. Adelaide has an estimated population of more than 1.2 million...

     with the Ghan passenger train. The Adelaide-Darwin railway
    Adelaide-Darwin railway
    The Adelaide–Darwin railway is a north-south transcontinental railway in Australia, between the cities of Adelaide, South Australia and Darwin, Northern Territory...

     is standard or gauge, though the original line to Alice Springs (never fully completed line) was gauge.
  • In 2006, proposals for new lines in Queensland that would carry both intrastate coal traffic and interstate freight traffic would see standard gauge
    Standard gauge
    The standard gauge is a widely-used track gauge . Approximately 60% of the world's existing railway lines are built to this gauge...

     penetrate the state in considerable stretches for the first time. (ARHS Digest September 2006). The standard gauge Inland Railway
    Inland Railway
    The Australian Inland Railway is a proposed railway extending in a north-south direction across the continent from Melbourne to Darwin along a route in mostly flat terrain west of the mountainous Great Dividing Range...

     would ultimately extend from Melbourne
    Melbourne
    Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The Melbourne City Centre is the hub of the greater metropolitan area and the Census statistical division—of which "Melbourne" is the common name. As of June 2009, the greater...

     to Cairns.
  • Starting in 1867, Queensland built several railways going inland from several ports in a westerly direction. From the 1920s, steps were taken to connect these lines by the North-South North Coast line from Brisbane
    Brisbane
    Brisbane is the capital and most populous city in the Australian state of Queensland and the third most populous city in Australia. Brisbane's metropolitan area has a population of over 2 million, and the South East Queensland urban conurbation, centred around Brisbane, encompasses a population of...

     to Cairns.

East-West

  • There are several ways to cross Africa
    Africa
    Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

     transcontinentally by connecting west-east railroads. One is the Benguela railway that was completed in 1929. It starts in Lobito
    Lobito
    Lobito is a town and municipality in Benguela Province in Angola.It dates from 1905 and owes its existence to the bay of the same name having been chosen as the sea terminus of the Benguela railway to the far interior, passing through Luau to Katanga in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The...

    , Angola
    Angola
    Angola, officially the Republic of Angola , is a country in south-central Africa bordered by Namibia on the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the north, and Zambia on the east; its west coast is on the Atlantic Ocean with Luanda as its capital city...

     and connects through Katanga
    Katanga Province
    Katanga Province is one of the provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Between 1971 and 1997, its official name was Shaba Province. Under the new constitution, the province was to be replaced by four smaller provinces by February 2009; this did not actually take place.Katanga's regional...

     to the Zambia railways
    Zambia Railways
    Zambia Railways is the national railway of Zambia, one of the two major railroad organizations in Zambia, which may also be referred to as Railway Systems of Zambia...

     system. From Zambia several ports are accessible on the Indian ocean: Dar es Salaam
    Dar es Salaam
    Dar es Salaam , formerly Mzizima, is the largest city in Tanzania. It is also the country's richest city and a regionally important economic centre. Dar es Salaam is actually an administrative province within Tanzania, and consists of three local government areas or administrative districts: ...

     in Tanzania through the TAZARA, and, through Zimbabwe, Beira
    Beira, Mozambique
    Beira is the second largest city in Mozambique. It lies in the central region of the country in Sofala Province, where the Pungue River meets the Indian Ocean. Beira had a population of 412,588 in 1997, which grew to an estimated 546,000 in 2006...

     and Maputo
    Maputo
    Maputo, also known as Lourenço Marques, is the capital and largest city of Mozambique. It is known as the City of Acacias in reference to acacia trees commonly found along its avenues and the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. It was famous for the inscription "This is Portugal" on the walkway of its...

     in Mozambique. The Angolan Civil War has made the Benguela line largely inoperative, but efforts are being taken to restore it. Another west-east corridor leads from the Atlantic habours in Namibia
    Namibia
    Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia , is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March...

    , either Walvis Bay
    Walvis Bay
    Walvis Bay , is a city in Namibia and the name of the bay on which it lies...

     or Luderitz
    Lüderitz
    Lüderitz is a harbour town in south-west Namibia, lying on one of the least hospitable coasts in Africa. It is a port developed around Robert Harbour and Shark Island.- Overview :...

     to the South Africa
    South Africa
    The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

    n rail system that, in turn, links to ports on the Indian Ocean
    Indian Ocean
    The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

     ( i.e. Durban
    Durban
    Durban is the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal and the third largest city in South Africa. It forms part of the eThekwini metropolitan municipality. Durban is famous for being the busiest port in South Africa. It is also seen as one of the major centres of tourism...

    , Maputo
    Maputo
    Maputo, also known as Lourenço Marques, is the capital and largest city of Mozambique. It is known as the City of Acacias in reference to acacia trees commonly found along its avenues and the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. It was famous for the inscription "This is Portugal" on the walkway of its...

    ).
  • A 1015 km gap in the east-west line between Kinshasa
    Kinshasa
    Kinshasa is the capital and largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The city is located on the Congo River....

     and Ilebo
    Ilebo
    Ilebo, formerly known as Port-Francqui, is a town in Kasaï District in the Democratic Republic of Congo, lying at the highest navigable point of the Kasaï River. As such, it is an important transport hub for ferries to Kinshasa and trains to Lubumbashi....

     filled by riverboats could be plugged with a new railway.
  • There are two proposals for a line from the Red Sea to the Gulf of Guinea, including TransAfricaRail
    TransAfricaRail
    TransAfricaRail is a proposal dated 2009 to use raw materials of African countries to build a railway network from Sudan in the east to Cameroon in the west...

    .
  • In 2010 a proposal
    Dakar-Port Sudan Railway
    The Dakar-Port Sudan Railway is a 4,000 km long proposal which surfaced in 2008-2010 to link the aforementioned ports by a Transcontinental Railway. It would pass through several countries along the way and would have branches to link capital cities not on the direct route. The initial...

     surfaced to link Dakar
    Dakar
    Dakar is the capital city and largest city of Senegal. It is located on the Cap-Vert Peninsula on the Atlantic coast and is the westernmost city on the African mainland...

     to Port Sudan
    Port Sudan
    Port Sudan is the capital of Red Sea State, Sudan; it has 489,725 residents . Located on the Red Sea, it is the Republic of Sudan's main port city.-History:...

    . Thirteen countries are on the main route, while another six would be served by branches.

North-South

  • A North-South transcontinental railroad had been proposed by Cecil Rhodes: the Cape-Cairo railway
    Cape-Cairo railway
    The Cape to Cairo Railway is an uncompleted project to cross Africa from south to north by rail. This plan was initiated at the end of the 18th century, during the time of colonial rule, largely under the vision of Cecil Rhodes, in the attempt to connect adjacent African possessions of the British...

    . This system was seen as the backbone for the African possessions of the British Empire
    British Empire
    The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

    , and was not completed. During its development, a competing French colonial project for a Trany line from Algiers
    Algiers
    ' is the capital and largest city of Algeria. According to the 1998 census, the population of the city proper was 1,519,570 and that of the urban agglomeration was 2,135,630. In 2009, the population was about 3,500,000...

     or Dakar
    Dakar
    Dakar is the capital city and largest city of Senegal. It is located on the Cap-Vert Peninsula on the Atlantic coast and is the westernmost city on the African mainland...

     to Abidjan
    Abidjan
    Abidjan is the economic and former official capital of Côte d'Ivoire, while the current capital is Yamoussoukro. it was the largest city in the nation and the third-largest French-speaking city in the world, after Paris, and Kinshasa but before Montreal...

     was abandoned after the Fashoda incident
    Fashoda Incident
    The Fashoda Incident was the climax of imperial territorial disputes between Britain and France in Eastern Africa. A French expedition to Fashoda on the White Nile sought to gain control of the Nile River and thereby force Britain out of Egypt. The British held firm as Britain and France were on...

    . This line would have four gauge islands in three gauges.
  • An extension of Namibian Railways is being built in 2006 with the possible connection to Angolan Railways.
  • Libya has proposed a Trans-Saharan Railway connecting possibly to Nigeria which would connect with the proposed AfricaRail
    AfricaRail
    AfricaRail is a project to link the railway systems of Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Niger, Benin and Togo. All these systems are .A future stage would link Mali, Senegal, Nigeria and Ghana which are of , , changing all to...

     network.

African Union of Railways

  • The African Union of Railways
    African Union of Railways
    The African Union of Railways in an organisation under the auspices of the new African Union dealing with railways. It is similar to the International Union of Railways .- Overview :...

     has ambitious plans to connect the various railways of Africa including the Dakar-Port Sudan Railway‎.

External links

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