Notes on the data:

  • What ends up in the total costs of projects varies from project to project: projects vary by number of stations, station volumes, length of platforms, systems, train yards, maintenance facilities, betterments, number of consultants, etc. Thus, comparing projects strictly on a costs per kilometer basis misses important details. We have used this data to help us quickly identify outliers to study in greater detail in our cases section.
  • Costs include all construction and construction-related expenditures, but not rolling stock or sales taxes. In some cases, rolling stock costs are included in the headline numbers, and we have tried to subtract them whenever possible; in some remaining cases, it was not possible, and we note that the costs include the equipment.
  • Costs are adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP), based on the midpoint of construction. This adjustment is imperfect in countries with rapid changes in the PPP rate due to high inflation, typically in the developing world. Of note, we have not adjusted for inflation so far; since all costs are converted to US dollars, you can inflation-adjust using American inflation rates.
  • The length of a project refers to the corridor length, not the total length of single-track. It includes length in service, excluding non-revenue tracks toward rail yards and tail tracks; for example, our length for the 7 extension in New York starts at Times Square and ends at 34th Street and 11th Avenue, even though storage tracks extend south to 26th Street.
  • The source column describes what type of source we used. Often we used different sources for length and cost, since costs can run over and therefore we’ve attempted to use the most recent sources possible, whereas length is fixed for the duration of the project.
    • Wiki means Wikipedia; it is not an acceptable source for costs, only length and opening year.
    • Measured means we measured the length (including tunnel length) on satellite photos or mapping software like Google Earth or Open Railway Map.
    • Media means general media.
    • Trade means trade publications, like Railway Gazette and International Rail Journal.
    • Plan means official plans, whether by the relevant agency, the state, the World Bank, etc.


If you have data you would like to share with us, please email us at info[at]
We are looking for data that conforms to our database, so information about duration of construction, percentage tunneled, costs, and kilometers. We are also interested in data on procurement, land acquisition costs, and breakdowns of costs by labor, professional services, systems, overheads, and betterments. All data needs to be from a reputable source, so please include official governmental or contractor documents (translated or in the original language). If you only have access to a hard copy, please scan and share with us.