Can you imagine what the world looked like before the construction of bridges and railways? It’s easy to take trains and bridges for granted, but without them, our lives in the modern world would look entirely different. Public transportation might be a source for countless headaches for many of us, but before the first train was created and the first bridge was built, it was significantly slower and inconvenient. Bridges and railways had a major economic role in history, specifically during wars, and a lot have changed in these means of transportation since the first bridge was inaugurated and the first train operated.
Today, railways and bridges are so advanced, that people ride trains just for fun and entertainment, or enjoy the beauty of the bridges without crossing them. From the longest bridge to the highest and the tallest, the longest train ride and the one that crosses over three different countries, this article is here to survey the magic of transportation throughout the years.
You should be familiar with this one, given that it’s the longest railway in the world. The Trans-Siberian Railway connects Moscow with the Russian Far East, with stops in Mongolia, China and North Korea.
Not only the longest railway in the world but one of the oldest, The Trans-Siberian started operating in 1916 and is still being expanded today. The construction of this one of a kind railway took 15 years to complete.
The Flam Railway
The scenic Flam Line is a Norwegian railway running through the valley of Flamsdalen. Officially opened in 1941, the line consists of ten stations, twenty tunnels and one bridge.
Thanks to the breathtaking views along the railway, the line now operates almost exclusively as a tourist service rather than a transportation tool for locals.
Duge (Beipanjiang) Bridge
The highest bridge in the world (and it has fierce competition), the Duge Bridge in China reaches a height of 565 meters (1,850 feet). It crosses the Beipan River between Yunnan and Guizhou.
Its height is so impressive, that the bridge was recognized by the Guinness World Records as the world’s highest bridge. It might be the highest bridge in the world, but it’s far behind on the list of oldest bridges – it was opened for traffic only three years ago, in 2016.
Golden Gate Bridge
The famous bridge of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge connects San Francisco with the Pacific Ocean. When it was opened in 1937 it was the longest as well as the highest suspension bridge in the world, reaching a height of 227 meters (746 feet).
Many bridges have been built since the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1937, so it’s no longer the longest nor the highest bridge, but it certainly is still one of the most beautiful and well-known bridges around the world.
Danyang Kunshan Grand Bridge
As the name suggests, this is indeed a grand bridge. At 164-kilometer-long, the Danyang Kunshan is currently the longest bridge in the world. It’s located in China and runs from Shanghai to Nanjing in Jianpsu province.
This is not only the longest bridge in the world but probably the most expensive one, as its construction cost around $8.5 billion. The construction of the bridge took four years and was completed in 2010, and it was another year before it finally opened for traffic.
The Glacier Express
The Glacier Express is an express train ride in the Swiss Alps. The name ‘express’ is misleading, as in fact it’s actually known as the slowest express train in the world.
The railway opened in 1926, but until 1982 it operated only in the summer months, due to bad weather conditions that damaged the railway during the winter.
This list wouldn’t be complete without one of the most well-known bridges in the United States. Brooklyn Bridge was the first fixed crossing across the East River, connecting New York’s boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan.
The Bridge dates back to the 19th century, as its construction began in 1869. However, the completion of the bridge took 14 years, and the much-anticipated bridge finally opened in 1883 in a grand opening ceremony.
You probably recognize this one – also known as London Bridge, the Tower Bridge adjacent to the Tower of London is one of the city’s most iconic symbols. The construction of the bridge began in 1886 and ended in 1894.
The bridge, crossing the river Thames, is not only functional but also incredibly beautiful. In an attempt to preserve its beauty, in 2008 it was decided the bridge should undergo a “facelift” including stripping off the paint and repainting it.
Vasco de Gama Bridge
Portugal’s most famous bridge, Vasco de Gama spans the Tagus River in Lisbon. It might not be the longest bridge in the world, but it’s the longest bridge in Europe, with a length of 12.3 kilometers.
The construction of the bridge began in 1995 with the purpose of alleviating the traffic between the northern and southern regions of the country.
The Millau Viaduct
This is perhaps the most expensive bridge on the list, as its construction cost around 394 million euros. Located in France, the bridge spans the gorge valley near Millau in the south of France.
The French bridge is the tallest bridge in the world, which is different than the highest, as it relates to the height of the structure (which is extremely tall, as the picture shows). It was opened for traffic on December 2004.
AGV Italo, Italy
Italy is known for being the fashion country of Europe, and apparently this is the case not just with clothes and sports cars, but trains as well.
One example for that is the Italo – the fastest running train in Europe. The train, that started its service in 2007, can get you from Rome to Naples in only an hour, at the speed of 223.6 miles per hour.
Sydney Harbour Bridge
There’s a good reason why this is one of the most famous bridges in the world, as it’s not only beautiful but extremely functional. The bridge, that connects the Sydney central business district and the North Shore carries traffic of vehicles, rail, bicycle and pedestrian.
Built during the 1920s and opened in 1932, it was only in 2007 that the bridge made it to the Australian National Heritage List.
This is a suspension bridge for pedestrians crossing London’s River Thames. The bridge is also known in London as “the wobbly bridge,” as pedestrians felt it wobbling while crossing it when it on the very day it was inaugurated.
Due to this alarming complaint, for two years the bridge was open only for limited access, as renovations were made to eliminate the wobbling motion. It was officially re-opened in 2002.
Not to be confused with the Golden Gate Bridge (which incidentally isn’t even golden), the Golden Bridge is located in Vietnam and is quite different. This is a pedestrian bridge connecting the cable car station and the gardens in the Ba Na Hills resort in Vietnam.
The giant stone hands aren’t just for decoration purposes, although the bridge was designed as a tourist attraction, they support the structure.
Royal Gorge Bridge
The bridge, as its name gently implies, crosses the Royal Gorge canyon of the Arkansas River near Cañon City, Colorado. It was never meant for transportation purposes but was designed as a tourist attraction for the visitors of the canyon.
From 1929 to 2001 it held the record of the highest bridge in the world, and after it was eliminated from first place in the world, it remained with the title of the highest bridge in the U.S.
The Ghan Train
This renowned Australian railway takes no less than 54 hours to travel the 2,979 kilometers between the cities of Adelaide, Alice Springs and Darwin.
The Ghan started operating way back in 1929 when its route was significantly shorter, and the original Ghan dates back to the late 1800s when the route was entirely different.
The Helix Bridge
Located in the Marina Bay area of Singapore, the Helix Bridge is known for its unique design. It’s a pedestrian bridge connecting Marina Center with Marina South that was officially opened in 2010 after three years of construction.
The extraordinary design of the bridge won it several prizes, including “World’s Best Transportation Building,” and was recognized by countless architecture and design firms.
Hell Gate Bridge
This was the inspiration behind the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge. One of New York’s many bridges, the Hell Gate connects Queens and Manhattan across the Hell Gate strait of the East River, carrying railway tracks.
While it was constructed in the early 1900s, only in the 1990s, for the first time after almost a century, the bridge was repainted. The job didn’t go as planned, though, and the color faded during the painting, leaving the bridge with its current washed-out look.
Akashi Kaikyo Bridge
The Japanese Bridge, completed in 1998, currently holds the record of the longest central span of any suspension bridge in the world (and yes, this record holds the record of the longest record name).
Before the construction of the bridge, which spans the Akashi Strait and connects the city of Kobe and Awaji Island, ferries carried passengers across the strait. This was an extremely dangerous way to commute across the river since the waters are exposed to severe storms.
Pont du Gard Bridge
The oldest bridge on the list, the Pont du Gard in the south of France was constructed in the first century AD for the purpose of conveying water to an ancient Roman colony. To this day, it’s one of the best-preserved bridges of the period.
Thanks to its importance as a Roman aqueduct bridge, it was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
George Washington Bridge
One of New York’s more famous bridges, the George Washington Bridge dates back to the early 1900s, as its construction began in 1927.
The bridge, spanning the Hudson River, connects the borough of Manhattan in New York with the borough of Fort Lee in New Jersey. It’s one of the most important bridges in the area, as it carries public transportation as well as pedestrians and cyclists on the sidewalk.
Sidu River Bridge
One of many impressive bridges in China, the Sidu Bridge which opened in 2009 carries the expressway train that connects the cities of Shanghai and Chongqing in western China.
The bridge is characterized by the magnificent views of the mountain belt, spanning the 500-meter-deep valley of the Sidu River.
Gateshead Millennium Bridge
The Gateshead Millennium Bridge, opened in 2001, is used by pedestrians and cyclists, spanning the Tyne river in North East England.
The bridge is most well-known for his shape, which resembles a blinking eye, and the fact that it rotates to allow ships and boats to pass the river underneath it.
The Blue Train
The famous blue train of South Africa travels between Pretoria and Cape Town and is considered one of the most luxurious train rides in the world.
The Blue Train was originally called the Union Limited and the Union Express, which operated as luxury trains back in the beginning to mid-1900s. Blue Train was a nickname attached to it due to its blue carriages, and the name was formally adopted in 1937. We can’t argue that the new name is far better.
THSR 700T Train
This is a series of high-speed trains based in Taiwan, traveling from the city of Taipei to the city of Kaohsiung at the speed of 186 miles per hour, shortening the trip from four hours to 90 minutes.
Though it looks like a spaceship and travels almost as fast as an airplane, this high-speed train isn’t from the future, and in fact, it was built over a decade ago and started operating in 2007.
The Norwegian railway is a single-track line connecting the city of Bergen with the town of Honefoss. It started operating in 1883 in a shorter route, and in 1909 expanded to the rout that still operates today.
The Bergen railway is 371 kilometers long and serves several Norwegian train lines. Naturally, it’s characterized by the scenic views of the Norwegian Fiords along the line.
This is an Indian tourist train, one of the most luxurious in the world and definitely the most luxurious in India. In runs across North-West and Central India and covers over twelve destinations.
The train opened its doors for tourists in 2010 and offers a clean, luxurious alternative for anyone wishing to explore India in a more sterile way.
Lucky Knot Bridge
Who knew China had so many unique bridges? Among China’s impressive bridges you’ll find the Lucky Knot Bridge in the city of Changsha, crossing the Dragon King Harbour River.
This unique bridge, constructed by one of China’s more renowned architecture firms, operates as a pedestrian bridge. The unique design of the bridge rightfully won a competition to determine the firm that would design this bridge.
The Confederation Bridge
Canada’s Confederation Bridge connects Prince Edward Island and mainland New Brunswick. The bridge, that serves as the main highway in the area, was opened for traffic in 1997.
Talking about strange world records, this bridge holds the record of the world’s longest bridge over ice-covered water, with a length of 12.9 kilometers (8 miles).
Bay Bridge, or in its full name, San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, is not a bridge but rather a complex of several bridges, serving as a toll bridge spanning California’s San Francisco Bay.
One of the longest spans in the U.S, the bridge carries around 260,000 vehicles daily. Not many people know this, but the Bay Bridge was opened prior to the more famous Golden Gate Bridge.
Another one of New York’s many famous bridges, the Manhattan bridge was opened in 1912 after almost 12 years of construction. It connects Lower Manhattan with Downtown Brooklyn.
It was built after the Brooklyn Bridge and constitutes the last of the three bridges crossing the East River, which is why it was suggested the bridge would go by the name “The 3rd Bridge.” It didn’t catch, though.
The Great Belt Bridge
The Great Belt Bridge, unsurprisingly, crosses the Great Belt strait of Denmark between the islands of Zealand and Funen, dividing Denmark in two.
The bridge consists of a suspension bridge and a tunnel and is used by private vehicles. Before the bridge opened in 1997, a service ferry operated as the main transportation tool across the Great Belt.
Ponte Vecchio Bridge
In the picturesque city of Florence, Italy, you’ll find the picturesque Ponte Vecchio Bridge (or “Old Bridge” in common tongue).
The old bridge, which dates back to the Roman times, spans the Amo River of Florence. It’s mainly characterized by shops surrounding the bridge, in the past chiefly butcher shops, but these days more classic merchandise such as jewelry and souvenirs.
Grand Canyon Railway
This is an old railroad carrying passengers from Arizona to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. The construction of the railroad was completed in 1901 in the hopes of improving the touristic area.
In the mid-20th century, the railway suffered competition with the automobile and lost the battle, and in 1968 the train stopped operating and didn’t resume its service until 1977.
Kalka Shimla Railway
Traveling from Kalka to Shimla in the north of India, this railway is a favorite attraction for tourists in India, mostly known for its narrow gauge and the scenic view of mountains and valleys throughout the ride.
It’s located in the foothills of the Himalayas, at 2,169 meters height. The railway, that operates today as a major tourist attraction, was built during the British rule in India to accommodate the needs of the British lords.