Passenger Rail Terminology - Regional Rail and Commuter Rail

Regional Rail and Commuter Rail

Regional rail (also called metropolitan rail, commuter rail, or suburban rail) is an electric or diesel propelled railway for urban passenger train service consisting of local short distance travel operating between adjacent cities and towns, or between a central city and adjacent suburbs, using either locomotive hauled or multiple unit railroad passenger cars.

Regional rail usually provides rail services between towns and cities, rather than purely linking major population hubs in the way inter-city rail does. Regional rail operates outside major cities. Unlike Inter-city, it stops at most or all stations. It provides a service between smaller communities along the line, and also connections with long-distance services. Alternative names are "local train" or "stopping train". Examples include the former BR's Regional Railways, France's TER (Transport express régional) and Germany's DB Regio services. Regional rail operates throughout the day but often at low frequency (once per hour or only a few times a day), whereas commuter rail provides a high-frequency service within a conurbation.

Regional rail in this sense does not exist in North America, where the term "regional rail" is synonymous with commuter rail.

Regional trains are usually all seated and provide luggage space, although they seldom have all the amenities of inter-city trains such as a buffet or dining car. Since their invention, the distinction between regional and long-distance rail has also been the use of multiple unit propulsion, with longer distance trains being locomotive hauled, although development of trains such as the British Rail Class 390 have blurred this distinction. Shorter regional rail services will still usually be operated exclusively by multiple units where they exist, which have a shorter range and operate at lower average speeds than services on Inter-city rail networks. Not using a locomotive also provides greater passenger capacity in the commuter role at peak periods.

British Rail, during sectorisation, did once create a "Regional Railways" subsidiary, however this was so named to differentiate it's 'all other regions' lines from the other sectors Network SouthEast, which heavily focused on commuters services to London terminal stations but operated rail services across the South East region, and the Inter-City sector which operated long distance services.

Commuter rail in North America refers to urban passenger train service for local short-distance travel operating between a central city and its suburbs. Such rail service, using either locomotive-hauled or self-propelled railroad passenger cars, is characterized by multi-trip tickets, specific station-to-station fares, and usually only one or two stations in the central business district. It does not include heavy rail, rapid transit, light rail, streetcar, tram, or intercity rail service.

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Passenger Rail Terminology - Regional Rail and Commuter Rail - Intercity, Corridor and Long-Distance
... named train, introduced in 1950, but the term InterCity was adopted by British Rail in 1966 as a brand-name for its long-haul express passenger services ... services that cover longer distances than commuter or regional trains ...

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