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Northern Rail Class 158 at York station

Regional rail is a term used for passenger rail services that operate between towns and cities. These trains operate with more stops than inter-city rail, and unlike commuter rail,[citation needed] operate beyond the limits of urban areas, connecting smaller cities and towns.

In North America, "regional rail" is often used as a synonym for "commuter rail", often using "commuter rail" to refer to systems that primarily or only offer service during the rush hour while using "regional rail" to refer to systems that offer all-day service.[1][2]


Regional rail is usually defined as providing services that link settlements to each other, unlike commuter rail[citation needed] which links locations within a singular urban area. Unlike inter-city services, regional trains stop at more stations and serve smaller communities. They may share routes with inter-city services, providing service to settlements that inter-city trains skip, or be the sole service on routes not busy enough to justify inter-city service.

Regional rail services are much less likely to be profitable than inter-city (mainly because many passengers use monthly passes giving a lower price per ride, and that lower average speed gives less distance, meaning less ticket revenue per hour of operation) and hence require government funding. This is justified on social or environmental grounds, and because regional rail services often act as feeders for more profitable inter-city lines.

There are also services that are something in between regional and inter-city, like the Oresundtrain (between Copenhagen and three cities in Sweden over 3 hours away) with stopping pattern like a regional train and pass prices attracting work commuters.

Regional rail in different countries

This list describes the terms used for regional rail in various countries, as described above.

Country Railway company Name English / comments
Algeria SNTF Inter-villes / Réseau de lignes de banlieue The "Inter-villes" autorail is the regional train in Algeria, and the "Réseau de lignes de banlieue" (commuter rail) is the suburban train of the big Algerian cities such as Algiers, Oran, Constantine, and Annaba
Australia Queensland rail Traveltrain Operates long distance trains in Queensland out of Brisbane. (Except The Inlander)
NSW TrainLink Operates regional and intercity trains in NSW out of Sydney or from Newcastle, It also interstate operations to Melbourne and Brisbane.
Transwa Operates regional rail in Western Australia to Kalgoorlie and Bunbury from Perth.
V/Line Operates regional and intercity services in Victoria out of Melbourne, it is well known for operating the V/locity DMU.
Austria ÖBB Regionalzug "Regional train". Calls at every stop. 2nd class only.
Belgium NMBS/SNCB lokale trein/train local "Local train"
Catalonia, Spain Rodalies de Catalunya and FGC Regional, Regional Exprés and Mitjana Distància Until 2008, Regional Exprés was officially known as Catalunya Exprés.[3] In 2024, FGC will take over the R12 line of Rodalies de Catalunya, where Renfe Operadora currently operates the trains.[4]
China China Railway 市郊旅客列车 "Suburban Railway [zh]" (S-series trains), not common. "Inter-City EMU [zh]" trains (C-series trains) may be more frequent than Suburban Railways and are used for commuting.
Czech Republic ČD Osobní vlak, Spěšný vlak "Passenger train", "Semi-fast train"
Denmark DSB, Arriva Regionaltog "Regional train". This category is used for trains usually calling at every stop.
Finland VR Group Taajamajuna (Finnish) (FI), Regionaltåg (Swedish) "Conurbation train". Station announcements use "regional train".
France SNCF / RATP TER, RER, Transilien Transport Express Régional (TER) in most French regions, Transilien and RER for Île-de-France
Germany DB and others Regionalbahn (RB)
Regionalexpress (RE)
"Regional train". This category is used for trains calling at every stop outside urban areas. Previously they were named Nahverkehrszug and even before Personenzug.
DB S-Bahn (S) "Suburban train" or "City train". This category is used for trains calling every stop in a city. S-Bahn is used for trains that primarily serve a single urban area. In the country similar trains are called "Regionalbahn" (see above).
India IR Passenger train "Passenger train" or simply as "Passenger". This category is used for trains stopping at every railway station along its route.
NCRTC RapidX Regional rapid transit systems that offer semi-high-speed connectivity within the regions.
Indonesia KAI Kereta Ekonomi Lokal "Local Economy Train". This category is used for trains stopping at every railway station along their route to a major city within an operational area. Exceptionally, when operating in overlapping pattern with Jakarta commuter rail, the train only stops at certain stations.
Italy Trenord Treno regionale "Regional train". This category is used for trains calling at every stop, or most stops. These trains are operated by Trenord, the regional train company for Lombardy.
Trenitalia Treno regionale (IT) "Regional train". This category is used for trains calling at every stop, or most stops. Previously, regional trains were named treni locali (local trains).
Japan JR group 中距離列車
アーバンネットワーク(āban nettowāku) (JA)
"Mid-distance Train," "Suburban Train," "Urban-Network." These categories are used for trains calling at less stops than commuter trains in city area, and making every stop in suburb or further.
Luxembourg CFL Regionalbunn (LB), RegionalExpress Regionalbunn ("Regional train") is used for trains calling at nearly every stop, unlike RegionalExpress
Netherlands NS and others Sprinter (NS)/Stoptrein (others) (NL) "Sprinter" or "Stopping train". Connects nearby cities, stops at (almost) all stations, the basic local train service.
Norway Vy Regiontog "Regional train". In 2022 there was a terminology change. After this Regiontog are trains which stop at every stop, except inside large urban areas, where they skip stops and "Lokaltog" (commuter trains) stop at every stop. Before 2022 this term Regiontog was used for medium- and long-distance trains. Long-distance trains (now called "Fjerntog") have fairly frequent stops, since they are also used for regional travel and do not try to compete with air travel as the railways are winding and slow.
Poland Polregio Pociąg REGIO (PL) "REGIO train"
Portugal Comboios de Portugal Comboio Regional (PT) "Comboio Regional" Stops at the stations where a person has bought a ticket to the stop. Connects various towns and villages to big cities around the coast.
Romania CFR Regio Shortened "Regional" (formerly, Personal)
Serbia Serbian Railways Putnički voz (Passenger train) Short-, medium- and long-distance stopping trains, that stop at all stations between two points. These trains are usually the slowest trains in Serbia, but are most commonly used because of their low price comparing to Brzi voz ("Fast train", stopping only at major stations) and Inter Siti Srbija ("InterCity Serbia", similar to Brzi voz, except that most are international trains). Most Putnički voz trains are consisted of one ŽS 441/ŽS 444 locomotive and one to three coaches or ŽS 412 EMU. There are plans to replace ŽS 412s with new ŽS 413 sets. Now its called Regio.
Spain Renfe Operadora Media Distancia "Medium Distance" (formerly, Regionales).
Sweden SJ and others Regionaltåg (SV) "Regional train". The public transport organisations organise both local and regional trains in Sweden, with similar tickets in both cases, with monthly pass prices competitive with car commuting. In some cases single ride tickets are sold mainly by the operator. SJ sells tickets to all regional trains, in parallel with the main operator.
Switzerland SBB-CFF-FFS and others Regionalzug (German)
Train régional (French)
Treno regionale (Italian)
"Regional Train". Replaces the former terms Personenzug (German, "passenger train") and train omnibus (French) to have a more precise description and basically the same word in all three national languages. Starting in December 2004, the abbreviation Regio was introduced for all languages. Trains named Regio call at every stop.
Taiwan Taiwan Railways Administration 區間車 (Chinese) Local trains stop at every stations on main lines; exclusive class on passenger branch lines. Trainsets include: EMU500, EMU700, EMU800, and DRC1000.
Turkey TCDD Taşımacılık Bölgesel Tren "Regional Train". Stops at (almost) all stations, the basic local train service.
United Kingdom (Great Britain) British Rail (1982–1997) Regional Railways Train services outside London and South East which are not InterCity trains.

See also


  1. ^ Blumgart, Jake (23 April 2021). "Taking the 'Commuter' Out of America's Rail Systems". Governing. e.Republic LLC. Retrieved 11 April 2023.
  2. ^ Spieler, Christof (24 Aug 2021). Trains, Buses, People, Second Edition: An Opinionated Atlas of US and Canadian Transit. Island Press. p. 54. ISBN 9781642832136.
  3. ^ GIRONA, JOAN BRUNET. "RIP Catalunya Exprés - 27 des 2009". El Punt Avui (in Catalan). Retrieved 2023-02-06.
  4. ^ 324cat (2021-10-19). "Renfe perd Rodalies de Lleida, que gestionarà FGC a partir del 2024". CCMA (in Catalan). Retrieved 2023-02-06.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)