List of highest railways
This article lists the highest railways in the world. The table only includes non-cable passenger railways whose culminating point is over 3,000 metres above sea level, regardless of their location, gauge or type.
For simplicity purposes, absolute elevation is the only criterion of this list, albeit two localities at exactly the same elevation above sea level can have drastically different topographic or climatic conditions. For example, the permanent snow line is located at sea level near the poles, at 3,000 metres in the Alps and at 6,000 metres in some areas of the Andes and the Himalayas. The tree line is also very dependant on the latitude, thus making comparisons between elevations difficult on a world scale. At those high altitudes, snow, cold, wind and harsh weather conditions make the construction and maintenance of the railway a challenge, resulting in high operating costs.
Before the opening of the Qinghai–Tibet Railway in China, currently the highest in the world, the highest three railways were located in the Andean countries of Peru and Bolivia. In the Alps, the Jungfrau Railway has the particularity of reaching an elevation that is higher than the local snow line.
For a list by country, without elevation cutoff, see List of highest railways by country.
Current passenger railways
|Railway line||Highest point||Highest elevation||Country||Opened||Notes|
|Xining-Golmud-Lhasa||Tanggula||5,068 m (16,627 ft)||China||2006|
|Lima–Huancayo||Galera Summit Tunnel||4,783 m (15,692 ft)||Peru||1893||Highest railway in the Americas|
|Rio Mulatos–Potosí||Cóndor||4,786 m (15,702 ft)||Bolivia|
|Cuzco-Lake Titicaca||La Raya||4,313 m (14,150 ft)||Peru|
|Salta–Antofagasta||La Polvorilla||4,220 m (13,845 ft)|| Argentina
|1948||"Tren a las Nubes" tourist service between Salta and La Polvorilla|
|Quito-Guayaquil||Urbina||3,609 m (11,841 ft)||Ecuador||1908||Reopened 2011|
|Lanzhou–Xinjiang High-Speed Railway||Qilianshan No.2 Tunnel||3,608 m (11,837 ft)||China||2014||Highest high-speed railway|
|Jungfrau Railway||Jungfraujoch||3,454 m (11,332 ft)||Switzerland||1912||Highest railway in Europe, underground above 2,350 m.|
|Leadville, Colorado and Southern Railroad||Leadville||3,414 m (11,201 ft)||USA||Highest Adhesion railway in North America|
|Gornergrat Railway||Gornergrat||3,090 m (10,138 ft)||Switzerland||1898||Highest open-air railway in Europe|
|Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad||Cumbres Pass||3,054 m (10,020 ft)||USA||1881||Highest narrow gauge railroad in North America|
|Railway line||Highest point||Highest elevation||Country||Opened / closed||Notes|
|Manitou and Pike's Peak Railway||Pikes Peak Summit||4,301 m (14,111 ft)||USA||1891 / 2017||Highest railway in North America. Planned to reopen in 2021 |
|Arica–La Paz||General Lagos||4,257 m (13,967 ft)|| Chile
|1913||Closed in 2005|
|Antofagasta-La Paz||Ascotán||3,956 m (12,979 ft)|| Chile
|1873||Freight only, formerly also a passenger railway|
|Denver South Park & Pacific||Alpine Tunnel||3,512 m (11,522 ft)||USA||1882 / 1910|
|Mendoza–Los Andes||Los Caracoles||3,176 m (10,420 ft)|| Argentina
|1910 / 1984|
|DRG&W Tennessee Pass Route||Tennessee Pass||3,116 m (10,223 ft)||USA||1881 / 1997||Out of service. Can be reactivated if traffic permits.|
- Bilaspur–Leh line, railway project that would be the highest in the world
- List of highest railways by country
- List of highest railways in Europe
- List of railway stations
- Heaviest trains
- "World's highest railway station enters key construction period". Canada Tibet Committee. July 28, 2005. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
- Bennett, Suzy (October 2003). "A train journey through the Peruvian Andes". Wanderlust. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
- "Our Train - The Highest in the World". Incas del Peru. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
- Jungfraubahnen. "Jungfraujoch - Top of Europe". Jungfrau Ski Region. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
- Switzerland Tourism. "Highest railway in Europe". My Switzerland. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
- Manitou & Pike's Peak Cog Railway. "Along The Route". Pikes Peak Cog Railway. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
- "Pike's Peak Cog Railway will reopen May 2021". KKYV News. CBS Denver. Retrieved 14 September 2020.