What are Local Trains?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 06 December 2019
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Local trains are vehicles that stop at all possible stops along the way so people can travel either short or long distances. Such trains may not only include classic above-ground railways, but can also include below ground subways or rapid transit vehicles, where people can board or disembark from the train at a variety of stops. Depending on how far a person wants to travel, local trains can be a blessing or a curse. If travel distance is just a few stops down the line, the trains can be a convenient way to travel, but if people are traversing a distance, number of stops can greatly add to total trip time.

There are many ways to classify types of trains, and one of these is to refer to them by the number of stops they make. Local trains tend to stop at all stops while sometimes a train line offers limited-stop traveling, speeding through some stations or entrances and only stopping at a few of them. These may also be called commuter or express trains, and may be a quicker way to travel longer distances because the trip isn’t marked by frequent stops.


Another way to evaluate trains is by distance traveled. Sometimes local trains are those trains that principally operate within city limits, or within county limits. In contrast to this would be regional trains that travel to many different cities and are perfect for commuters. Systems like Bay Area Rapid Transit or B.A.R.T is an example of a regional train system in Northern California. Centered in San Francisco, B.A.R.T travels to many other cities in the area, including across the San Francisco Bay to towns like Oakland.

With the second definition, regional trains may still be local trains by determining how many stops they’ll make. If they only make a few of the usual stops on the train line, they might be called express or limit-stop trains. On the other hand, these trains may still be local trains if they stop at every stop, even if they travel outside city limits and deliver passengers to several different cities. With rapid transit systems, stops are usually short, but they still add to trip time.

Most people can figure out by timetables whether specific trains are local or limited stop, and they can use train maps to determine which stops they need. Many train lines that are large have useful online timetables for determining when and how often trains stop, and for figuring out length of a trip, based on numbers of stops. Companies or municipalities that run transportation may have handy copies of train schedules and routes that they freely give to customers, too.

It should be noted that large train transportation concerns often run a variety of trains, with local trains possibly running concurrently with express or limited stop trains. If people are in a hurry, it’s important they check to make sure they’ve boarded the right train, to avoid wasting time or to steer clear of getting on a train that will not stop at the appropriate stop. People should also pay attention to weekend and holiday schedules on a timetable because these may differ in train times or availability of local trains or limited stop trains.



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