This page presents records and firsts for railroad tunnels, bridges, and stations in the U.S. and worldwide.
More railroad records: Early Railroads, Locomotives,
Routes & Track, Train Records, Train Wrecks
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What was the first railway tunnel in the world?
The world's first railway tunnel was the Stodhart Tunnel on
the Peak Forest Tramway at Chapel Milton, Derbyshire, UK. The Peak
Forest Railway was a 6-mile horse- and gravity-powered railway that
carried limestone from quarries to canal. The 280-foot single-track
tunnel was completed in 1796. The north portal collapsed in 1949
during the realignment of a road over the tunnel, but the south
portal remains standing today.
What was the first railroad tunnel in the USA?
The first railroad tunnel in the United States was the
901-foot Staple Bend Tunnel, five miles east of Johnstown,
Pennsylvania. The tunnel was built from 1831 to 1833 for the
Allegheny Portage Railroad, a 36-mile gravity railroad that
connected two canals in Central Pennsylvania. The railroad was
rendered obsolete in 1854 with the opening of the steam-powered
Pennsylvania Railroad. The tunnel was restored and opened to
pedestrian traffic as part of the Allegheny Portage Railroad
National Historic Site in 2001.
What is the longest railway tunnel in the world?
The world's longest railway tunnel is the Gotthard Base
Tunnel, a 35.4-mile tunnel under the Swiss Alps. Drilling was
completed in 2010 and the tunnel is expected to open to rail traffic
in 2016, shortening travel times and increasing capacity between
Germany, Switzerland, and Italy.
The world's longest rail tunnel already operational (as of
2012) is the Seikan Tunnel in Japan. The 33.5-mile tunnel includes
14.5 miles under the Tsugaru Strait. The tunnel opened in 1988 and
is operated by the Hokkaido Railway Company.
What is the longest railroad tunnel in the USA?
The longest railroad tunnel in the USA, and all of North
America, is the Cascade Tunnel at Stevens Pass. The 7.8-mile tunnel,
located on the BNSF mainline through the Cascade Mountains between
Spokane and Seattle, was completed on January 12, 1929, replacing
the original 2.6-mile Cascade Tunnel that was built in 1900 and
plagued by snow slides.
What was the longest railroad tunnel built prior to the patent
of dynamite (1867)?
The Woodhead 1 Tunnel was the longest railway tunnel completed
prior to the invention of dynamite. The 15,880-foot tunnel was
completed by the Sheffield, Ashton-Under-Lyne & Manchester Railway
in 1845. Woodhead 1, and parallel Woodhead 2 (built 1852) and
Woodhead 3 (built 1953), served as a rail link from Manchester to
Sheffield in Northern England. Woodhead 1 & 2 were closed in
1953 and Woodhead 3 in 1981.
What was the first underwater railway tunnel in the world?
The world's first underwater rail tunnel was the Thames
Tunnel, built beneath the River Thames in London, England. Tunnel
construction began in 1825 and it opened to pedestrian traffic on
March 25, 1843. The tunnel was purchased by the East London Railway
in 1865 and opened for rail traffic on December 7, 1869. The tunnel
is currently used by the London Overground suburban rail system.
What was the first underwater railroad tunnel in the USA?
The first underwater rail tunnel in the USA was the St. Clair
Tunnel beneath the St. Clair River between Port Huron, Michigan, USA
and Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. The original 6,025-foot tunnel opened
in 1891 and served Canadian National Railway until 1994 when a
larger parallel replacement tunnel was completed.
What is the longest underwater railway tunnel in the world?
The Channel Tunnel between England and France has the longest
undersea portion of any tunnel worldwide. The tunnel's total length
is 31.4 miles, with 23.5 miles under the English Channel, and was
opened by the Eurotunnel Group in 1994.
What is the longest underwater railroad tunnel in the USA?
The longest underwater tunnel in the USA, and all of North
America, is the Transbay Tube which takes BART rapid transit trains
beneath the bay between San Francisco and Oakland, California. The
3.6-mile tunnel was opened in September 1974.
What is the world's oldest bridge still in active railway use?
In 1810, the Glasgow, Paisley and Johnstone Canal built an
aqueduct over the River Cart near Paisley, Scotland. The canal was
purchased by the Glasgow & South Western Railway and much of the
route (including original aqueduct) was used to construct the
Paisley Canal Railway Line which has operated since 1885.
What is the highest railway bridge in the world?
The world's highest rail bridge will be the Chenab Bridge
under construction in India. The 1,178 foot high and 4,314 foot long
steel arch bridge is scheduled for completion in 2015, carrying a
new railway line in Jammu and Kashmir over the Chenab River.
The highest railway bridge currently in use (as of 2012) is
the Beipanjiang River Railway Bridge near Liupanshui in Guizhou
province, China. The 902 foot high and 1,594 foot long steel and
concrete arch bridge opened in 2001 across the Bei Pan River Gorge.
What is the highest railroad bridge in the USA?
The highest railroad bridge in the USA is the Pit River Bridge
on the Union Pacific Railroad at Shasta Lake, California. The
cantilever bridge carries a highway and two tracks over Shasta Lake
at a height of 433 feet above the original water level of the Pit
River. Completion of the 600 foot high Shasta Dam downriver from the
bridge can increase the water level to within 30 feet of the rail
The highest U.S. rail bridge as measured from deck to typical
water level is the High Steel Bridge in Shelton, Washington. The 365
foot high bridge was constructed in 1929 by the Simpson Logging
Company, carrying its logging railroad over the South Fork of the
Skokomish River. The bridge was converted for road use in 1950 and
is still open to automobile traffic today.
What is the longest railway bridge in the world?
The world's longest bridge of any type is the Danyang–Kunshan
Grand Bridge on the Beijing–Shanghai High-Speed Railway. The
102.4-mile viaduct in East China’s Jiangsu province opened in 2011,
spanning a lake, rivers, and several cities. The world's second
longest bridge, the 70.6-mile Tianjin Grand Bridge, is located on
the same railway between Langfang and Qingxia.
What is the longest railroad bridge in the USA?
Norfolk Southern's Lake Pontchartrain Bridge between Slidell
and New Orleans, Louisiana is the longest railroad bridge in the
United States. The 5.8-mile bridge carries NS freight trains and
Amtrak intercity passenger trains.
What is the longest stone masonry arch railroad bridge in the
The Rockville Bridge across the Susquehanna River is the
longest stone masonry arch railroad bridge in the world. The current
bridge, opened by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1902, replaced former
wood and iron bridges. The Rockville Bridge features 48 spans with a
total length of 3,820 feet, serving Norfolk Southern freight trains
and Amtrak intercity passenger trains just north of Harrisburg,
RAILROAD STATIONS & TIMETABLES
What is the world's busiest train station in terms of daily
The world's busiest train station is Shinjuku Station in
Tokyo, Japan. Including intercity, commuter, and metro lines, the
station serves 3,500,000+ daily passengers.
What is the busiest train station in the USA?
Pennsylvania Station in New York City is the busiest in the
United States. Including Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road, NJ Transit,
and subway passengers, Penn Station serves 600,000+ people daily.
What is the world's largest train station in terms of platform
Grand Central Terminal in New York City is the largest in the
world with 44 platforms.
When did U.S. railroads establish standard time?
For efficiency of scheduling and operations, American
railroads instituted four standard time zones on November 18, 1883.
The time of day was a local matter prior to standard time, with most
towns using a local solar time based on "high noon" and maintained
by a public town clock.