Reddit user u/htGosSEVe studied train routes and charted what they call “the new longest possible train journey in the world.” It starts in the southern part of Portugal and ends up in Singapore.
From The Independent’s article on the map:
Analysis by rail blogger Mark Smith, aka The Man in Seat 61, and Reddit users calculated that the 11,654-mile journey could be done in 21 days.
Stops and connections along the way include Paris, Moscow, Beijing and Bangkok, making it quite the Europe-Asia grand tour.
The missing link had been a new section of railway in Laos, which was completed on 2 December and connects the city of Boten with the capital Vientiane.
Laos’s “game changing” new Laos-China railway link was built by the Chinese, with costs split between the two countries – the 414km (260-mile) stretch of track took five years to construct.
From their post in r/MapPorn:
With the opening of the Boten–Vientiane railway in Laos it is now possible to get the train from Lagos in Portugal all the way to Singapore.
Of course this only makes sense if it is the shortest distance possible between the two most distance points. I think this is close but I am not certain that it is the shortest possible. I would also like to figure out the quickest possible journey between the two places, but figuring out the timetables on that is quite difficult, and service reductions due to covid make it more difficult in some areas.
Each colour change on this map should at least roughly align with a change of train. There’s a couple of cross-city journeys (Lisbon, Paris, Moscow…) which I sort of ignored on this, and there’s one section that you can’t really see at all at this scale, which goes from Lagos to Tunes in Portugal, and I’m less confident about the exact routes taken past Beijing because the data in OpenStreetMap isn’t as complete there.
u/htGosSEVe added some notes and corrections:
The train I used for the Lisbon to Hendaye leg was suspended due to covid, but it doesn’t look hopeful that it will ever come back. It is still possible to follow a pretty similar route on 3 different trains.
The Paris-Moscow Express is also suspended due to covid, or I guess because Russian borders are shut at the moment. There’s not much point choosing an alternative there since there aren’t any trains running into Russia at the moment.
I think there’s probably a shorter router through Europe further south, there’s also a Nice-Moscow train for example. I think this further north route might be faster though.
There’s a shorter route through Kazakhstan instead of taking the Trans Siberian, which would also change your route through china. I think you would go Almaty -> Urumqi -> Xi’an -> Kunming.
The passenger station on the new Boten-Vientiane railway in Vientiane is quite far from both central Vientiane and the station to get onto the train into Thailand (which is also quite far from central Vientiane), although the railway seems to run up to what seems to be a freight terminal that is near the other station.
The colour coding (which roughly aligns with each service you’d need to take) isn’t correct for the services in Malaysia. There are other comments which correct this in this thread.
There’s one more service you’d need to take to transfer from Johor Bahru into Singapore, although apparently the station in Singapore is kind of not Singapore. It’s also a bit of a ways from any Singapore metro stations, but not as far as the transfer in Vientiane. If you did make the transfer, the furthest station in Singapore you could go to is Changi Airport.
I ignore cross city transfers in this map, because you wouldn’t see them anyway. I think the only one that isn’t doable by rail is Vientiane.