Heroku vs Railway – Which is the best?

This article will explore the differences and similarities between Heroku vs Railway. It will cover their features and pricing structure.

The continuously increasing demand for high-performance applications has contributed to the popularity of cloud implementations.

Such cloud computing platforms offer a comprehensive platform consisting of tools and services to handle the backend of the software, allowing developers to focus on improving the core of the application and develop a better end-user experience.

Heroku was a pioneer in this field, being among the first to bring a container-based approach to cloud computing. However, there has been no notable development since Salesforce acquired it, leading to many companies moving away to more specialized implementations with better features.

Railway.app is a relatively new infrastructure platform that has been gaining traction recently owing to its similarity to Heroku in terms of ease of use, but taking an innovative approach

In the following post, we take a look at the basic differences between Heroku and Railway.app and compare the pricing structures between the two.

If you have been wondering about which cloud implementation to use for your next project, this article should help you make an informed decision.

What is Heroku?

Launched in 2007 and acquired by Salesforce in 2010, Heroku is one of the first platforms as service implementations offering a container-based cloud computing model for building high-performance modern applications.

It is referred to as a polyglot platform, meaning that the output remains the same irrespective of the input language.

This is important because Heroku supports a wide range of programming languages, including Ruby, Go, Closure, PHP, Java, Python, Node, etc.

Heroku servers are hosted off of Amazon’s EC2 platform and are based on a managed container system with integrated data services.

The “dynos” are isolated Linux containers equipped with a 4-core vCPU and are distributed on a “dyno grid”, offering exceptional performance compared to its competitors.

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Heroku Features

  • Heroku Elements: The marketplace for modern add-ons, Heroku Elements allows developers to extend the functionality of the core application with the help of buildpacks and add-ons for security, database, and storage. In fact, the Redis implementation of Heroku is one of the most popular features of the application.
  • Developer Experience: Heroku follows a developer-centric approach to software delivery and takes care of all the redundant processes, allowing developers to focus on deploying apps continuously without mingling with the backend and infrastructure.
  • Runtime: As discussed above, the fully managed Heroku Runtime is contained within specialized Linux containers called dynos, where developers can simply deploy their code and Heroku will handle the rest.

Heroku Pricing

Pricing has been one of the primary arguments against Heroku’s deployment in larger organizations. However, the platform does offer a rather comprehensive pricing package, which is discussed in brief below.

  • Free: The free tier can be used for personal projects and non-commercial apps and APIs, where the usage is capped at 1000 dynos per month.
  • Standard: Starting at $25 per dyno per month, the standard tier offers enough resources to build business-focused applications and APIs.
  • Performance: Starting at $250 and up, the performance tier is generally aimed at organizations building high-traffic, low latency applications and offers features like auto scaling and predictable performance.
  • Custom: This is a custom-pricing tier for large organizations developing apps that meet the compliance, control, and collaboration needs of the organization.

What is Railway?

Railway.app is inspired by Heroku and is built with the aim of making app development tools easier to access for developers.

You can select your own choice of database, i.e., MySQL, Redis, or Postgres, whichever you think is the best for your project.

There are a ton of templates available, meaning you can either build your app from scratch or select one of the templates and build on top of that.

For deploying an app on Railway, you will need a GitHub account. The user interface is simple and allows developers to make queries and add database tables in web form.

While it is heavily inspired by Heroku, it takes its own take on PaaS deployments and offers features like bulk importing environmental variables and deploy previews, etc.

Railway Features

  • Autoscaling: Based on the load, Railway will automatically scale the application to meet the user demands. Railway bills only for computes on the platform. 
  • Metrics: Railways offers a wide range of real-time metrics to debug issues instantaneously. The platform sends queries for negative trends and shows developers exactly what is wrong so that they can troubleshoot the issues when required.
  • Apps run indefinitely: Compared to Heroku, where your app shuts down when it does not receive any input for over 30 mins, deployments on Railway run indefinitely. You can either run your app using Procfile or deploy a Docker file.

Railway Pricing

Railway charges you for the resources you use per minute and also brings a free tier to the fray.

  • Starter: Capped to $5 of usage, the free tier offers 512MB RAM and a shared vCPU along with 1GB of permanent storage. Your app deployment will be shut off when the limit is reached.
  • Developer: Only pay for resources after $10 of usage, this tier offers up to 8GB RAM and 100GB of permanent storage. Your app will remain online indefinitely.
  • Team: Starts at $20 per user per month, this tier offers up to 32GB RAM and 32 vCPUs along with a 2TB permanent storage split between resources. Your team members can access all your projects with collaboration tools built in.

Heroku vs Railway Comparison

OverviewDeployment platform where you can provision infrastructure. Platform to build, run, and scale apps in the cloud.
Date Foundation20202007
Parent CompanyIndependentSalesforce
Core FeaturesAutomatic builds
Deployment rollbacks
Multiple environments
Container platform
Managed databases
Free TierYesYes
PricingStarts at $10/monthStarts at $7/month


Being PaaS implementations, Heroku and Railway both bring similar features and offer a suite of benefits like cost efficiency, improved speed to market, etc.

Heroku was one of the first to bring container-based cloud computing to the mainstream market and is widely popular.

That said, it has lost some of its early momenta, leading to platforms like Railway, which brings its own unique approach to cloud computing, gaining popularity in recent months.

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