Main line (railway)

The main line, or mainline in American English, of a railway is a track that is used for through trains or is the principal artery of the system from which branch lines, yards, sidings and spurs are connected. It generally refers to a route between towns, as opposed to a route providing suburban or metro services. For capacity reasons, main lines in many countries have at least a double track and often contain multiple parallel tracks. Main line tracks are typically operated at higher speeds than branch lines and are generally built and maintained to a higher standard than yards and branch lines. Main lines may also be operated under shared access by a number of railway companies, with sidings and branches operated by private companies or single railway companies.