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This article discusses non-commuter regional rail. For commuter and suburban railways, see commuter rail.
Regional rail is passenger rail transport services that operate between towns an cities. It operates with more stops and lower distances than does intercity rail, but fewer stops and faster than commuter rail. Other terms include local train and stopping train. Regional rail operate beyond the limits of urban areas, and either connect similarly sized smaller cities and towns, or connect cities to the surrounding towns, outside or at the outer rim of the suburban belt.

Regional rail normally operates with an even service load throughout the day, although slightly increased services may be provided during rush-hour. The service is less oriented around bringing commuters to the urban centers, although this may generate part of the traffic on some systems. Other regional rail services operate between two large urban areas, but make many intermediate stops.


The main difference between regional rail and commuter rail is that the latter is focused on moving people between where they live and where they work on a daily basis. 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. 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 services are much less likely to be profitable, and hence require government subsidy. This is justified on the grounds on social or environmental grounds, as well as the fact that regional rail services often act as feeders for profitable inter-city lines.

Since their invention, the distinction between regional and long-distance rail has also been the use of multiple unit propulsion, with longer distance trains tending to be 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.

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
Austriamarker ÖBB Regionalzug "Regional train". Calls at every stop. They only convey 2nd class.
Belgiummarker SNCB lokale trein/train local "Local train"
Czech Republicmarker ČD Osobní vlak "Passenger train"
Germanymarker DB Regionalbahn "Regional train". This category is used for trains calling at every stop. Previously they were named Nahverkehrszug and even before Personenzug.
Netherlandsmarker NS Stoptrein/Sprinter "Stopping train". Stops at (almost) all stations, the basic local train service.
Norwaymarker NSB Regiontog "Regional train". This term used by Norges Statsbaner for medium- and long distance trains; those that do not stop at all stations.
Polandmarker PKP Pociąg osobowy "Passenger train"
Swedenmarker SJ Regionaltåg "Regional train".
Switzerlandmarker SBB-CFF-FFS and others Regionalzug (German), Train régional (French), Treno regionale (Italian) "Regional Train". Replaces the former terms Personenzug (German, translates as 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.

See also

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