What is an Express Train?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Those who travel by train frequently know that constant stops lengthen trips and can make riding less convenient. The need to come to a full stop, allow people to board the train or disembark eats up minutes. Even if a train is very fast, this constant stopping and starting can prove annoying and time-consuming. This is why many train lines offer express or limited express service, and the main difference is that the express train has fewer planned stops, so that travelers arrive at their destination sooner.

A train schedule is the best way to find out which trains have express train service.
A train schedule is the best way to find out which trains have express train service.

In most cities or countries with trains of varying sorts there are express train services. As mentioned these have fewer stops. An express can also traverse several cities or possibly even countries (especially in Europe). Just because they have limited stops doesn’t mean they won’t stop at all, but they usually have a defined number of stops and people can consult train timetables or guides to determine exactly what stops are made. For very long trips, such as across several countries, the express train can still prove useful in determining approximately how long a trip will take, and exactly how much time is saved by limited stops.

While traveling on a train to cross countries may be one good reason to look for express train services, daily travel may prompt many to look for an express. Commuters, or even those traversing a city, may save valuable time if they’re able to catch the express route to their destination. Such routes are quite common, but people have to be sure to be on time to catch them. Missing the express may mean having to catch a slower train to the office, and this could translate to being late for work.

The idea of the express train has certainly been around for a long time, and expresses may be a little upscale too, offering a place to buy drinks or get some food, and comfier seats. The same issue of limiting stops is available in many buses that serve commuters. A number of buses have express routes. When both buses and trains are used for this purpose, they may only run at limited times, often during rush hour. Catching an express for travel to another country could be easier to find at other times in the day.

A train schedule is the best way to find out which trains have express train service. This way people can plan their time accordingly. One warning exists on this issue. Though trains are sometimes late, an express can be early, and occasionally may leave a minute or two ahead of schedule. This varies by train line, but many train commuters have had the unpleasant experience of arriving on time only to see a train leaving the station. People should plan to arrive five to ten minutes early to be sure to catch the train.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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