Difference Wiki

Metro vs. Train: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on February 2, 2024
A metro is an urban railway system for mass transit within a city, often underground, while a train is a general term for a rail vehicle or series of connected vehicles running on tracks.

Key Differences

A metro, also known as a subway or underground, is a type of railway system specifically designed for urban mass transit. Metros are usually found in large cities and are often characterized by their underground tunnels. A train, on the other hand, is a broader term that refers to a series of connected rail vehicles that run along tracks, and can be used for both passenger and freight services.
Metros are known for their frequent service and shorter routes that are designed to transport people within a city or metropolitan area. They typically operate on exclusive rights-of-way, separated from other traffic. Trains encompass a wider variety of rail services, including long-distance passenger trains, commuter trains, and freight trains, which operate over longer distances and can traverse through cities, rural areas, and across regions.
The design and construction of metro systems are often more complex, involving significant urban infrastructure development, including stations, tunnels, and elevated tracks. Trains, depending on their type, may utilize simpler infrastructure, with stations and tracks that are often shared between different types of rail services.
In terms of speed and capacity, metros are optimized for speed and efficiency in urban centers, with a focus on moving large numbers of people quickly over short distances. Trains, especially those designed for long-distance travel, focus on comfort and amenities, offering services such as sleeping compartments, dining cars, and more spacious seating.
The experience of riding a metro versus a train can also differ significantly. Metros typically involve more frequent stops, shorter travel times, and are designed for commuters and short trips. Train journeys can be much longer, offering an opportunity to view scenic landscapes, especially in the case of tourist or long-distance trains.

Comparison Chart

Primary Use

Urban mass transit
Various, including long-distance, freight, and commuter

Operating Environment

Mostly in cities, often underground
Varied environments, including urban, rural, intercity


Complex urban infrastructure
Diverse, from simple tracks to complex stations

Travel Distance

Shorter, within cities
Longer, between cities or across regions

Passenger Capacity

High, for daily commuters
Varies, from high-capacity commuter trains to lower-capacity long-distance trains

Metro and Train Definitions


Rapid transit system for city commuting.
The new metro line made commuting much faster.


Railway vehicle for passengers or freight.
The freight train carries goods across the country.


City-based rail network for mass transit.
They expanded the metro to reduce traffic congestion.


A series of connected rail vehicles.
The train to the city leaves at 8 am.


An urban public transportation system using trains.
She took the metro to work every day.


Long-distance transportation via rails.
They took an overnight train for their trip.


Electric-powered urban train service.
The metro was crowded during rush hour.


A mode of rail transport for commuting.
He commutes by train to avoid traffic.


Underground railway system in cities.
The metro in Paris is an efficient way to travel.


Electric or diesel-powered rail service.
The express train connects major cities quickly.


(general) A rapid transit rail transport system, or a train in such systems, generally underground and serving a metropolitan area.


A series of connected railroad cars pulled or pushed by one or more locomotives.


(less common) An urban rapid transit rail transport system, normally with lighter track and light trains (i.e. an S-Bahn or similar), or a train in such systems.


A long line of moving people, animals, or vehicles.


A metropolitan area.




Electric underground railway


What defines a train?

A train is a rail vehicle or series of connected vehicles running on tracks, used for passenger or freight transport.

What is a metro?

A metro is an urban railway system designed for mass transit within cities, often operating underground.

Can trains be used for short city commutes?

Yes, commuter trains are designed for short-distance travel within or near cities.

How fast do trains travel?

Train speeds vary, with high-speed trains reaching over 300 km/h and regular trains having lower speeds.

Do metros operate outside city limits?

Metros are primarily designed for urban areas, though some lines may extend to suburbs.

Is a metro considered a train?

Yes, a metro is a type of train specifically designed for urban transit.

What's the difference between a metro and a tram?

Metros are high-capacity, often underground, urban trains, while trams are street-level rail vehicles.

Are metros only found underground?

While many metros operate underground, some also have above-ground or elevated sections.

What types of trains are there?

There are various types of trains, including freight, commuter, intercity, and high-speed trains.

Are metros accessible to people with disabilities?

Modern metro systems are typically designed to be accessible to people with disabilities.

Do all cities have a metro system?

Not all cities have metros; their presence depends on the city's size, infrastructure, and urban planning.

How often do metros run?

Metros typically have frequent services, especially during peak hours.

What is a freight train?

A freight train is a train used for transporting goods and cargo.

Are there sleeping facilities on trains?

Long-distance and overnight trains often have sleeping facilities.

What's the longest metro system in the world?

The Shanghai Metro is one of the longest, but other cities like Beijing and London also have extensive networks.

Can you take bikes on trains?

Many trains allow bicycles, but policies vary by railway company and type of train.

Do trains operate internationally?

Yes, there are international train services connecting different countries, especially in Europe.

How do you pay for metro rides?

Payment methods include tickets, contactless cards, or smartcards, depending on the metro system.

Is it cheaper to travel by metro or train?

Metro tickets are generally cheaper for short urban trips, while train fares vary for longer distances.

What is a commuter train?

A commuter train is designed for daily travel between home and work or school.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons