11 October 2018

Puzzle on Railways

My brother in India and I recently started new jobs and we both travel a lot for work. We still find time to talk to each other once a day – even if for a few minutes. Almost all his work related travel is by trains. And mine by planes. This morning, I had called him and I could hear the sound of the train horn in the background. Trains are still something I get terribly fascinated by.

Which got me reading up about railway lines today. Learnt some cool stuff and also realized that so many things I was taught during my school years are not true. Or at least not true any more.

Try these.
a. Which country has the longest railway network (in total miles/kms)? This is something I had to “un”learn!

b. Can you think of the largest country that has no railway? How about the second largest country without any railway? Here is a hint – they are neighboring countries. And the first one used to have a railway in its past. But not anymore.

c. Think about the longest distance you can go without ever having to change trains. Can you guess between which two cities that train would be running?

d. Here is something else I knew wrong. What is the longest railway platform in the world?

e. Which is the busiest station in the world? Can you guess the country if you do not know the station name? More people go thru this station in a matter of weeks than the total number of people that go thru the world’s busiest airport in a year!

f. How about the longest railway tunnel? Can you guess the country if you do not know the tunnel name? It is a rather new one. Has been in operation for only two years.

g. What is the longest railway bridge in the world? Want to guess the country name? It is over 102 miles long. For my friends from Durgapur… that is longer than Durgapur to Kolkata!

h. How about the highest railway station in the world? Want to guess the country name?

i. What is the longest railway station name? I do not expect you to know the whole name – although it has a shortened version – but can you guess which country it is in? The name, roughly translates to “St Mary’s Church in the Hollow of the White Hazel near a Rapid Whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio near the Red Cave”

j. Conversely, what is the world’s shortest railway station name? Want to take a guess at how many letters or which country?

Posted October 11, 2018 by Rajib Roy in category "Puzzles


  1. By rajibroy (Post author) on

    Now for the answers:
    a. US has the longest railway network. I remember in early childhood reading a book where it claimed India had the longest network and it could go from the earth to moon and come back. Twice! Turns out India in third!

    b. Libya is the country without any railway today. Its neighbor Niger is the second largest. I hope I have my analysis right. There are about 20+ countries without any railways that I could find. After checking their areas, Libya and Niger are the ones I came up with. Most of the other answers are small islands in Oceania and North America (and a few notable ones like Iceland and Nepal)

    c. You can take a train from Pyongyang and without ever having to get off, travel for over 10,000KM (6,000 miles) and get down at Moscow. Of course, who does it is a different question!

    d. Gorakhpur station in India is the longest platform. We grew up learning that Kharagpur has the longest platform in the world. In fact, it is number 3. Interestingly enough, 4 of the top 5 longest platforms are in India. I have no idea why. It is not passengers exactly have the discipline to queue and they need that length!

    e. Japan takes the credit for the busiest station. Shinjuku station sees 3.5 million passengers EVERY DAY!! Here is a mind blowing statistic – if you take the top 50 busiest railway stations in the world – 45 – yes, 45 of them are in Japan. All 20 in the Top 20 is in Japan! I think the Japanese national pastime is to get on to a train and then get off at the next station!

    f. The recently opened Gotthard Base tunnel in Switzerland is now the longest railway tunnel at a whopping 55km (35 miles)

    g. Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge in China is the longest railway bridge. Talk of insane lengths – this is 102 miles (165 km)!!

    h. Tanggula in Tibet (China) is the highest railway station.

    i. The longest railway station name has to be the Welsh with their penchant for long words and quite unpronounceable too! Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch I understand by the time you can tell the station you are going to at the ticket counter, your train usually leaves 🙂

    j. I do not know how the shortest railway station name credit goes to India (try Nenkatanarasimharajuvaripeta as an example) but it does. In fact “Ib” is the name of the station in the eastern part of India that has the shortest name in the world.


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