The Physics
An encyclopedia of scientific essays

Mass of a Train

An educational, fair use website

search icon
Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
Cutnell, John D; Johnson, Kenneth W. Physics,4th ed. New York: Wiley, 1998: 197. "Car 1 has a mass of m1 = 65 × 103 kg…. Car 2, with a mass m2 = 92 × 103 kg…." 6.5–9.2 × 104 kg
The Guinness Book of World Records. 1998, USA: Bantam, 1998: 93. "The heaviest train was a BHP Iron Ore train weighing 79,577 tons. The 10
locmotives and 540 ore cars ran from Newman to Port Hedland, Western
Australia, a distance of 253.9 miles, on May 28, 1996."
7.22 × 107 kg
Marre, Louis A. Diesel Locomotives: the First 50 Years. USA: Kalmbuch, 1995: 476. "Models by weight
25-ton, GE, t93… 125-ton GE, 202"

2.27–11.3 × 104 kg
Hollingsworth, Brian. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of North American Locomotives. New York: Salamander, 1997: 26. "Adhesive Weight: 5,800 lb (2.6 t), Total Weight: 10,800 lb (4.9 t)" 2.63 × 103 kg
4.9 × 103 kg
Withuhn, William L. "Locomotive." The World Book Encyclopedia. 1998 ed. vol L. Chicago: World Book, 1998: 414. "Early locomotives weighed from 3 to 6 short tons (2.7 to 5.4 metric tons)…. A modern locomotive may weigh over 700 short tons (640 metric tons)…." 2.7–5.4 × 103 kg
(early locomotive)
6.4 × 105 kg
(modern locomotive)

We know trains as a series of loads being pushed or pulled by a locomotive along railroad tracks. Because loads can consist of anything (whether it is passengers, steel, or mail), there is no set mass for a train. The adhesive weight is the mass of what the locomotive is pulling. The total weight includes both the train cars and the locomotive. The mass of a train is usually measured using the following units- US tons, short tons, and metric tons. In this case, the standard unit kilograms (kg) will be used.

Locomotives run using three main sources of power, or a combination of the three- diesel oil, electricity, and steam. Early locomotives dating from the 1800s were mostly steam-driven and weighed 2700 kg to 5400 kg. Peter Cooper's famous "Tom Thumb"train, known for causing the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) to invest in steam locomotives instead of horse-driven, had a mass of 4900 kg.

Modern trains are significantly more massive than their earlier counterparts. Diesel locomotives range in mass from the lightweight 22,680 kg GE to the 113,400 kg GE.

The BHP Iron Ore train broke the world record for heaviest train in its May 28, 1996 run from Australian cities Newman to Port Hedland. The 10 locomotives and 540 ore cars had a combined mass of 7.22 × 107 kg.

Rui Bing Zheng -- 2000