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How do trains work?

High-speed train in Shanghai, ChinaMost modern trains are electric or diesel-electric. High-speed trains, such as the French Train à Grande Vitesse (TGV) or the China Railways High-Speed "Harmony", are powered by electric motors. In diesel-electric trains, a diesel engine drives a generator which produces the electricity to power the motors.

Electric power


Cutaway illustration of an electric power carAn electric train takes its power from electricity cables running above the tracks or from an electrified third rail. A pantograph collects the electricity. Then a motor block and a transformer control the flow of electricity to the motors.

There are more than 1,187,000 km (737,000 miles) of railway lines across the world. If they were placed end-to-end, they would circle Earth more than 30 times.

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