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Railway, here tren a las nubes ( Argentina )

The railway is a rail-bound transport system for the transport of goods and people . Railways belong to the group of railways , i. H. rail and rail transport.

Goldach Viaduct in Switzerland

A railway is a vehicle or a group of vehicles in this traffic system, i.e. without the sum of all railway systems and without railway operations .

Originally, the term railroad meant the new iron guideway that emerged at the beginning of the 19th century . Horses were initially used as the driving force (see also horse tram ).

In 2013, the global rail network was 1,148,186 kilometers long.


The ICE 3 , a high-speed train operated by Deutsche Bahn

The railroad emerged at the beginning of the 19th century by linking the centuries-old wheel-rail system with machine drives for the vehicles. The weight of the prime movers and the requirements for a smooth track for the faster vehicles initially led to iron-studded planked tracks, later to the use of cast iron rails mounted on stone blocks , which were later mounted on transverse wooden sleepers for reasons of track stability . The name "iron railway" or railway is derived from this.

The more general term track describes the route or the line on which an object is moving. This facet of meaning is still preserved in the terms lane , motorway , flight path or runway . The term railway is therefore the specification of a special type of route. Only then is the word railroad used for the whole means of transport , i.e. the route and vehicles ( pars pro toto ), which in turn is often shortened to rail . The German Bahn AG also names as train types, such as regional train .

In other languages, too, the basic word originally describes the route and only later the entire traffic system: French. chemin de fer "Eisenweg", ndl. spoor weg , Spanish ferro carril "iron trail ", Russian schelesnaja doroga "iron path", engl. rail road "Eisenbahnstraße" or rail way "Eisenbahnweg", Hungarian vas út "Eisenweg", Italian ferro via "Eisenweg", Greek Σιδηρό δρομος ( Sidiró dromos ) "Eisenweg", Swedish Järn väg "Eisenweg", Turkish. demir yolu "Eisenweg", Finnish. Rauta tie "Eisenweg", cro. željez nica "iron, paths'", Ch. Â · / Â · ( TIE ) "iron road", Jap. ( Tetsu ) "iron road", Kor. ( cheol do ) "iron road".

History and meaning

Stephenson's The Rocket , 1829

Ruts to guide wagons on roads have existed since prehistoric times. The development that led to the railway, but not found on public roads instead, but in mining , where it at least since 1530 propelled on wooden tracks Hunte or Loren was. By the end of the 18th century, the English mining industry developed the system with flange-guided wheels .

The beginning of the history of the railroad as it is today is the year 1804, when Richard Trevithick put the first steam locomotive into operation. However, his machine still ran on wheels without flanges. The track guidance was ensured by means of track rollers against the inner flanks of the rails. This management principle has recently been taken up again in the track bus . The first railway vehicles in mines were moved by cable winches , which is still used today as a funicular or cable tram .

The first public railroad was the Stockton and Darlington Railway, opened in England in 1825 , which for the first time carried people as well as goods. It already worked according to the principle of today's rail-mounted railroad and set the standard for the (known as normal gauge ) track width of 1435 mm.

In the 19th century, the railroad developed into a networked transport system within a few decades , which drastically shortened travel times in Europe and North America. It acted as a catalyst for the industrial revolution , as on the one hand it created the infrastructural prerequisites for the development of heavy industry and on the other hand it itself created a huge demand for iron , steel and machines . Modern bridge construction and tunnel construction were created in order to realize railway lines .

The revolutionary importance of the railway was recognized early on; in Germany z. B. already written before the construction of the first railway line from Nuremberg to Fürth :

“[The steam wagon hurries] through the most populous streets, without danger to the spectators, promising and preparing a complete change in all world conditions, because with the speed of a bird [...] it runs therefore, reducing all distances to the fourth part, like the steam boats to the sea. - This useful invention will probably soon spread across Germany, for which the railway in Bohemia, and which should offer the first opportunity between Belgium and Prussia [...] "

The modern joint stock company is a response to the capital needs of railroad projects; no private investor could finance it alone.

Military use: German troop transport 1914

In the wars of the 19th century, the strategic importance of a well-developed rail transport system became apparent. The Franco-German War in particular is an example of the decisive advantages of rail-based troop mobilization and supply ( replenishment , rear services , train ). That is why the governments of the European states quickly took on the promotion and regulation of the respective national railways (also: trend towards state railways ; nationalization of private railways ). The military importance of the railroad was greatest in the First World War ; then military vehicles and transport aircraft became more important. Armored trains did not acquire great importance.

Between the world wars, the mass spread of the motor vehicle as a means of transport began, which in the following decades led to the closure of large parts of the railway network throughout the western world. The transport performance of the railways continued to grow, but not as much as that of motorized individual transport . In North America , the railway has retained a very strong position in freight transport . In Europe and above all in Japan , the railroad was able to hold its own in passenger traffic, among other things through the expansion of high-speed traffic .

According to the country data of the CIA , the railway lines have a total circumference of 824,550 kilometers worldwide. North America (275,000 km), the EU - Member States (236,000 kilometers), Russia (87,000 kilometers), China (75,000 km) and India (about 63,000 kilometers) put together while more than half of the route networks. On the other continents of the world , the states Australia (with 38,550 km), Argentina (with 32,000 km), South Africa (with 21,000 km) and Mexico (with around 18,000 km) have the most extensive networks. In the ranking of the countries with the most extensive railway networks, according to the CIA , Germany ranks sixth behind Canada with almost 42,000 km.

For today's locomotion over long distances, mechanical drives are used in the transport vehicles themselves ( railcars ) or special towing vehicles ( locomotives ). As a further development of the railway, track-guided monorails such. B. be considered the magnetic levitation train .

Trams , light rail vehicles , underground railways , elevated railways and rail-bound mountain railways (see also railways ) are technically railways, but depending on the country, they are sometimes treated with different construction and operating regulations than other railways.


Rail vehicles of the railroad are run as trains , which consist of one or more rail cars coupled one behind the other , or as a single moving locomotive. Such a train is usually pulled or pushed by one or more locomotives . A multiple unit has its own drive system, located either in the head and / or end cars ( drive head is located) or is distributed over the carriage (multiple unit).

Locomotives, power cars and railcars are grouped together under the term power vehicle . Accordingly, we speak in the web of train drivers - the term "engineer" is colloquially - for the staff of the vehicle leads. In technical jargon, we also used the generic term rolling stock or rolling stock for all vehicles of the railway.

The drive took place in the early days of rail transport by draft animals ( horses train ), then with a steam engine , from 1879 with electric drive (invented by Werner von Siemens ), 1900 with Otto - or diesel engine -Antrieben and in modern times with turbines . The motor and machine drives usually turn the wheels that roll on the rails and thereby move the vehicle. Sometimes there are also aids, e.g. B. racks between the rails ( rack railway ), friction wheel drives ( fur locomotive ), are used. Propeller and jet propulsion systems have also been tried out experimentally, but they have not proven themselves. The stationary winches that used to be used to haul trains on steep sections have now become unnecessary due to the development of locomotive drives. In some cases, cable winches still exist in the wagon shifting areas of ports, workshops for wagons or large companies. Where the rails are embedded in a carriageway, tractors (trucks) can also be used to push with a plate or pull with a fixed rope or a winch.

Historically, huntes were also pushed by hand in some mines. Cars of a house runway were used in Vienna, for example. B. pushed from the workshop in one of the courtyards of a house through a low passage to the edge of the sidewalk by up to four people.

Electric drives are preferred on main routes and in densely populated areas, otherwise diesel drives. The exception is North America , where there are almost no longer any electrified long-distance routes.

Railway system

Railway system (in Bremen )
Railroad in Montana , United States

The railway infrastructure is called a railway system. It includes the rail network , buildings and other technical systems, such as B. Signals that are necessary to operate a railway.

Track, superstructure and substructure

With conventional tracks , the rails are fastened to transverse sleepers at short intervals . It is fastened with various systems, e.g. B. nails or clamps (the so-called small iron). The fastening ensures the track width and prevents the rail from moving in the longitudinal direction. The sleepers are made of impregnated wood or, more recently, of prestressed concrete . To a lesser extent, sleepers made of steel are used.

The track grid made of sleepers and rails is stored in a track bed (mostly made of gravel ), which absorbs the static and dynamic forces and transfers them to the substructure . The superstructure consists of the track and its bedding . A modern superstructure (e.g. on the high-speed line from Frankfurt am Main to Cologne ) has a concrete track bed on which the rails are mounted with damping elements. This construction, called slab track , allows very high speeds with greater smoothness.

Railway lines do not allow steep gradients and require large curve radii. This requires a complex substructure with engineering structures, especially in the mountains. Many mountain routes are known for their complex bridges and tunnels . Examples are the Semmering Railway in Austria or the Albulabahn and the Bernina Railway in Switzerland.

Important railway lines ( main lines ) and those with a high traffic density are mostly built with two tracks. On multi-track routes, trains can cross en route and overtake with restrictions in special operational cases. This is also possible on single-track routes. A train is allowed to go into a so-called overhaul on the open line by means of a switch. This train waits there until the next train has passed. At the end of this overhaul, there is again a switch connection that enables the train that was overtaken to continue on the route. This means that oncoming journeys can also be made on a single-track route. You can also overtake in multi-track stations that must have at least one switch.


Electric traction vehicles require a traction power supply. The electricity is usually supplied via an overhead line above the track, less often - mainly on subways or the S-Bahn trains in Berlin and Hamburg - via a power rail next to the track or between the rails. The power supply system also includes the substations through which the electricity is fed. Some railway companies also operate their own power plants and transmission lines for traction current .

Train stations

" Railway stations are railway systems with at least one switch where trains can start, end, turn around or turn around."

- Definition in Germany according to Section 4, Paragraph 2 of the Railway Construction and Operating Regulations

There are a variety of station types :

Colloquially, a "station" is usually a reception building that serves passenger traffic, even if the associated track system is technically not a station but, for example, a junction or a stop on the free route .

Rail operations

Railways are often owned or operated by a state ( state railways ), but they can also be privately owned ( private railways ). These terms refer only to ownership, not to public or non-public use. Railways, regardless of whether they are state or private, are operated in the vast majority as public transport and can be used by anyone for a fee.

Railway company

For the railway operation , that is, the safe and timely execution of trains that are railway companies responsible. Traditionally, the trains were often operated by the same company as the infrastructure. Since the end of the 20th century, an organizational separation of infrastructure and traffic has to be guaranteed in the European Union for non-discriminatory network access .


Railways are track-guided and cannot avoid obstacles at will, but they can also be guided safely and precisely on fixed routes. They can be located.

Rail technology has many advantages, but it also harbors risks. Because of the large moving masses and the low friction, railway trains have a long braking distance. Because of the track guidance it is impossible to directly influence and steer the direction of travel from rail vehicles. In addition to frontal and side collisions (in technical terms oncoming travel or following travel and flank travel), derailments also lead to damage. However, other mechanisms that are less known to the public and rarely occur, such as tipping over in strong crosswinds, can cause serious accidents and are taken into account in the relevant regulations.

The fact that the railway is still a safe mode of transport and that serious accidents rarely occur is thanks to various technical and operational measures as well as strict controls by the responsible authorities. Similar to air traffic , only a very low frequency of dangerous events is accepted in rail traffic , which is why high demands are made on the safety integrity of the technology used.

Locomotives and railway systems have safety devices that are designed to ensure that operation is as safe as possible. This includes railway signals , signal boxes and train control systems , the brakes and safety driving controls on the vehicles . The safety systems are designed on the basis of tried and tested technologies according to the fail-safe principle and are further developed (in particular based on knowledge of errors and the causes of accidents).

Interlockings use mechanical, electrical and electronic means to ensure that points , signals and other technical devices are only set in such a way that trains cannot or are endangered by turning points or other devices beneath them adjust. Due to the properties of the rails or the track guidance, train journeys can be located section by section and track occupancies relevant to the interlockings can be recognized.

Level crossings at which roads and paths cross the railroad on one level are secured by barriers, light signals, signs or other devices. Technically secured level crossings are usually also integrated into the interlocking technology. In particular, level crossings as a point of contact with other traffic systems cause uncertainty, which is why level crossings are removed piece by piece and only approved in exceptional cases for new lines. The risks introduced into rail traffic at level crossings are not insignificant. On the other hand, level crossings also limit the availability and quality of emergency care by emergency services in road traffic.

After driving on sight was abandoned as a generally applied traffic principle in the early years of the railways, a route was divided into sections, the route blocks . A route block technically ensures that there is only one train in a section and that trains run at a fixed spacing . The transfer of responsibility for safety from people to technology began early on. For example, the occupancy of a section of the route was initially canceled completely manually by railway employees when they recognized that a train had cleared the block section. After accidents at the beginning of the 20th century, it was technically ensured that a train (at least a part of it) actually passed the staff. With future safety systems it is hoped that railways will be able to travel with a relative braking distance and thus the capacity and energy efficiency of railway lines can be increased without any loss of safety compared to the fixed division into line blocks. Railways, especially in North America, are also run at intervals . Particularly formalized and secured communication protocols between the employees involved in the route and on the vehicles, as well as precise bookkeeping, contribute to safety; for example, the mode in which a vehicle can continue to travel in the event of a disturbed signal is precisely defined, and potentially dangerous operator actions in the interlocking must be documented in writing. However, security is increasingly only guaranteed on fall-back levels through human organization and actions. People themselves still bear a particularly high level of safety responsibility in operational procedures such as train control on branch lines.

On high-speed lines and for trains with regular speeds of over 160 km / h, liner train control was introduced in Germany . The driver's cab signals indicate to the driver how far he is allowed to travel at what speed. The signals on the route are switched to dark if they contradict the cab signaling. The safety technology of the train calculates the possible current speed from the distance and monitors the correct braking of the train. With ETCS , ERTMS and GSM-R , Europe-wide standards for train protection, control and communication are to be introduced over the next few decades.

The exact position of the track and its regular control make a significant contribution to safety . Since the track position changes as a result of traffic and weather conditions, the track geometry is measured at fixed time intervals and, if necessary, corrected. Special track measuring vehicles are used for the measurement .

The authority responsible for safety in rail traffic is the Federal Railway Office in Germany , the Federal Office of Transport in Switzerland and the Federal Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology in Austria . These authorities approve the infrastructure and safety technology used, as well as the vehicles, and assess the standards-compliant and proven safe design of the systems and technologies. At the European level, the European Railway Agency in Valenciennes deals with safety and in some cases creates specifications for the national authorities and strives to standardize the safety systems in Europe. Railway police are responsible for security against deliberate hazards . These are the federal police in Germany and Austria and the SBB railway police in Switzerland. These are usually supported by security companies from the railway companies.


The most important tool in rail operations is the picture timetable . It is designed in such a way that optimal operation is possible. Various factors must be taken into account when planning: Crossing possibilities in stations and on the route, the possible maximum speed of the train, minimum distance between two successive trains (given by the distance between the block signals on the route) and connections to other trains as well as other dependencies (train weight, Pulling force , inclinations, curvatures, braking power , etc.). The optimal use of vehicles and personnel are also essential for economical operation: They can only be in one place at the same time, but should not be standing around unnecessarily. A good timetable contains enough, but not too many, reserves so that small delays are not carried over to other trains.

Passengers appreciate the interval timetable because it is easy to remember with its regular structure. For the planner, the advantages lie in the consistent, symmetrical system . Timed timetables are constructed as a network plan .

In the timetable, trains are divided into different train types, for example InterCity for trains in long-distance traffic or S-Bahn for local urban traffic . The internal timetable for the operating staff also includes freight trains and empty runs.

On the locomotives, the locomotive driver has access to the book timetable in a printed edition and in electronic form, in Germany the EBuLa . In the case of special trains or relief trains, there is a separately created timetable, in Germany the timetable arrangement ( Fplo ), which the train driver z. B. is transmitted as a fax printout.

Railway operation simulation

Timetables and rail infrastructure are checked using simulation processes with which rail and local transport networks are reproduced in IT programs with all route, signal and operating characteristics with realistic operating processes including the various associated disturbances. They are therefore particularly suitable for checking the performance of these networks under operating conditions.

Simulation processes belong to the four network-related groups of processes with which specific networks and their timetables are developed or checked (also known as microscopic processes). Further procedures: statistical / deterministic method for evaluating actual conditions, constructive method mainly for developing timetables and the analytical method for fundamental investigations based on probability theory.

The simulation methods for railway and local transport networks are characterized by the fact that the train journeys are simulated directly in calculation runs using signaling secured track systems. The method is based on a conflict-free timetable, which was usually developed in advance using the constructive method. The actual operational sequence is first simulated in a realistic manner in the basic operation and in further steps, in that delayed train journeys are simulated and assessed in a large number of calculation runs (usually several hundred).

Other influences result from the possible failure of infrastructure (emergency situations) and failure of vehicle components, from extended stopping times, for example also at major events, from temporary speed limits on route sections and from the "human" influencing factor in the operation and handling of the infrastructure. Two different methods are used for this modeling :

  • The synchronous simulation allows all journeys in the examination room to run simultaneously. The further development of the business is followed in time steps. Disposition decisions are required to secure operations, e.g. B. Extension of holding times, use / non-use of demand stops, changes to target tracks in stations or relocation to other route sections. " Deadlocks " are to be avoided here, i.e. operating states in which no further operation is possible and in extreme cases two trains are facing each other,
  • The asynchronous simulation allows the journeys to run according to their priority (e.g. starting with ICE), with peers according to the chronological order. The scheduling is required with foresight and is rank-dependent, mostly on the basis of a timetable that was developed using the analytical method. The time-shifted consideration with the asynchronous simulation depicts the operational events in a more abstract way.

As a result of the simulation runs , statements are made about:

  • Stability and quality of a schedule, which is also provided by the number and the effects of scheduling decisions,
  • Delays at certain operating points and their reasons (original and burglary delays) as well as their effects due to delay transfers (subsequent and additional delays),
  • Obstructions from the infrastructure, which have an effect in delays and thus indicate inadequately equipped sections and bottlenecks, for which the number and the effects of disposition decisions also provide information - in detail using the logs from the calculation runs,
  • Connection stability from the assessment of specific individual connections. For example, individual, heavily occupied feeder trains can be assessed so that the method delivers more concrete results than just average values ​​in the route network under consideration as with other methods.
  • Circuit protection,
  • Comparison and evaluation of different infrastructure and / or timetable variants.

The calculation results are summarized on the basis of quality and performance parameters and represented graphically in route maps, for example by true-to-scale and colored bars. Delay duration lines, with which the delay time is illustrated in minute intervals with the associated percentage volume, have proven to be useful for identifying delays. This quality can also be illustrated in network maps by color-coded sections of the route, which, as a “quality map of punctuality”, provide a clear overview, similar to water quality maps.

To carry out the method , the simulation method requires a high level of detail in the infrastructure and detailed information on the operating program. This leads to a corresponding time requirement for data preparation and transfer to the model as well as for the evaluation and evaluation of the data obtained.

Operation and automation

Control panel of a signal box

The setting of the route has been centralized and automated more and more in the history of the railway. Signal boxes took over the operation of the points and signals on site. With the use of the operations control system , the signal boxes of entire regions can also be remote-controlled. Automatic train routing sets routes based on electronically saved timetable data.



As for other transport systems, the environmental compatibility of rail transport is usually assessed under the following criteria:

  • Resource and energy consumption (landscape, raw materials, energy),
  • Pollution by pollutants and particles,
  • Noise pollution.

In addition, economic effects are included as external costs from damage to people and property. If rail traffic is compared with other traffic systems, it scores particularly favorably in terms of resource and energy consumption compared to road traffic . The landscape consumption  - and thus also its "cutting up" - is significantly lower in rail transport. A load - especially when transporting goods  - can arise from noise from the start-up, rolling and braking noises.

Resource and energy consumption

Energy demand and emissions
in passenger transport
unit Passenger train Coach Car plane
MJ / Pkm 1.1 0.6 1.9 2.5
CO 2 g / pkm 63 42 138 183
NO x g / pkm 0.19 0.40 0.29 0.76
SO 2 g / pkm 0.02 0.09 0.06 0.121

Source: IFEU Heidelberg database results
Pkm = passenger kilometers

Energy consumption and emissions
in freight transport
unit freight train Inland
truck plane
MJ / tkm 0.4 0.5 1.3 18.3
CO 2 g / tkm 22nd 33 93 240
NO x g / tkm 0.07 0.57 0.67 5.54
SO 2 g / tkm 0.02 0.04 0.05 0.85

Source: IFEU Heidelberg database results
tkm = tonne kilometers

A double-track rail route uses 1.2 hectares of space per kilometer, a motorway with 3.6 hectares three times as much space. The energy consumption in rail traffic for passenger transport is 3.4 l diesel equivalent per 100  passenger kilometers (pkm), while in road traffic it is 5.6 l diesel equivalent per 100 pkm for solo travelers. Transporting goods by rail only requires a third of the energy used by truck transport - an average of 1.2 l diesel equivalent per 100  tonne-kilometers (tkm) for rail transport compared to 3.9 l diesel equivalent per 100 tkm for truck transport. In conjunction with other energy sources, the comparatively low energy consumption also contributes to the lower CO 2 , NO x and particle emissions, which account for around a third of the performance-related emissions from car traffic and a quarter to a tenth from truck traffic lie (see tables).

Rail freight transport is particularly advantageous for medium to long transport distances and for container and bulk goods transport. He is involved in around a quarter of all goods transport in Germany - measured in ton-kilometers. A disproportionate growth of around 6% annually is still expected over the next few years.

Noise pollution

A significant environmental impact in rail traffic is caused by noise caused by drive, rolling and braking noises (see also rail traffic noise). According to surveys from 2008, 24% of the population in Germany feel annoyed by rail traffic noise, including 12% extremely and 4% severely annoyed.

Under comparable conditions, the passing of passenger and freight trains with gray cast iron brakes causes a noise level of 92 to 95 dB (A) - measured at a distance of 7.5 meters at a speed of 80 km / h. In the case of passenger coaches with disc brakes and the ICE under the same conditions, the values ​​drop to 77 to 82 dB (A), so the sound pressure is halved (for the relationship between measurements and the "auditory event" as human perception, see sound pressure level and loudness ). Technical measures on the brakes and bogies can also reduce the noise pollution from freight wagons to values ​​of around 75 dB (A). Further noise protection measures consist of lowering the noise along the railways by means of noise barriers , enclosures or tunnels. As administrative measures, noise-dependent train path prices come into question, which take into account the design-related noise development of the locomotives and wagons and create incentives for noise reduction through cost advantages (for the current status in Germany see train path price system ).

Limit values ​​for noise protection on railways are only specified for new construction or major changes with the Traffic Noise Protection Ordinance (16th BImSchV of June 12, 1990), whereby the noise level limit values ​​are set 5 dB lower than for road traffic (so-called rail bonus ). There are no limit values ​​for noise protection on existing traffic routes and therefore no legal entitlement to renovation. The noise remediation on railways was only started in 1999 with an annual budget of 100 million DM and has now been continued with 100 million euros annually. In 2009, an additional EUR 110.9 million could be obtained from the economic stimulus package I and EUR 48.3 million from the economic stimulus package II. These current noise protection measures comprise almost 3% of the total expenditure for the nationwide rail network, which was between 3.1 and 4.1 billion euros annually from 2000 to 2009 for replacement investments in the existing network as well as for new and expansion projects.

The exposure to rail traffic noise for the main traffic routes and metropolitan areas can be read directly from the noise maps, which were created within the framework of the EU Environmental Noise Directive:

  • Ambient noise mapping on railways of federal railways with Germany-wide, individually selectable map excerpts for noise pollution on railways

The routes with the highest noise emissions are the main routes for freight traffic, which in Germany include the Rhine corridor and the Hamburg-Hanover-Göttingen-Fulda-Würzburg corridor, but also east-west corridors such as Hanover-Hamm-Ruhr area, Nuremberg-Passau and Mannheim – Stuttgart – Ulm – Munich – Rosenheim.

Railway engineering as a subject

A railway engineering course is offered at several German, Swiss, Austrian and Dutch universities and colleges. The website "Eisenbahnlehre.org", a website of the "German-speaking railway professors", lists all locations for a university degree in transportation with a focus on railway and public transportation. The website also provides an overview of the study locations according to the focus on railways, rail vehicles and rail operations. In German university policy, the railway system is classified as a small subject , the Small Subjects Unit lists 19 independent chairs for Germany (as of June 2019) at eleven universities, which also offer courses. In addition to these universities, the Erfurt University of Applied Sciences offers a degree in railway engineering.



A definition of railways can be found in Section 2 of the General Railway Act (AEG) of December 27, 1993:

“(1) Railways are public institutions or companies organized under private law that provide rail transport services or operate a rail infrastructure.
(2) Rail transport services are the transport of people or goods on a railway infrastructure. Railway undertakings must be able to provide train transport. ...
(3) The railway infrastructure comprises the operating facilities of the railways including the traction current transmission lines.
(3a) The operator of the railways is any railway infrastructure company whose object is the operation, construction and maintenance of the railways, with the exception of the railways in service facilities. "

No railways within the meaning of this law are "other railways such as magnetic levitation trains , trams and railways, mountain railways and other special types of railways similar in terms of their construction or operation " (Section 1 (2) sentence 2 AEG).

For the operation of regular-gauge public railways, the Railway Construction and Operating Regulations (EBO) have been issued in accordance with Section 26 (1) AEG . Narrow-gauge railways are subject to the Railway Construction and Operating Regulations for Narrow- Gauge Railways (ESBO). In addition, the federal states have issued ordinances on the construction and operation of connecting railways (BOA and EBOA ) for non-public railways . The aim is to standardize EBO / ESBO and BOA / EBOA. There is the problem of federal-state responsibilities.

The Federal Railway Authority (EBA) exercises supervision over federal railways and non- federally owned railways with headquarters abroad . The federal states are responsible for the non-federally owned railways based in Germany; however, most of them have delegated railway supervision to the EBA.

Further regulations:

The now famous definition of the Reichsgericht from 1879 for the railway was still:

"A company aimed at the repeated movement of people or things over not entirely insignificant distances on a metal basis, which by its consistency, construction and smoothness is intended to enable the transport of large weights or the achievement of a relatively significant speed of transport movement, and by This peculiarity in connection with the natural forces also used to generate the transport movement (such as steam, electricity, animal, human muscle activity, with an inclined plane of the railway also its own weight, the transport vessels and their cargo, etc.) in the operations of the company on the same is capable of producing a comparatively powerful (depending on the circumstances only useful in a purposeful way, or human life-destroying and human health injurious) effect. "

Today she is seen as an outstanding example of the firm's style .


The Swiss Railway Act defines:

"Railway companies within the meaning of this law are companies that build and operate the railway infrastructure or carry out the railway traffic, which can be used by everyone for the transport of people and goods according to their intended purpose and whose vehicles are tracked."

- (Art. 1, Point II)

In Switzerland, cog railways and trams (which also include trolley buses) are subject to the Railway Act, while funiculars have been subject to the Cable Car Act since 2006.


In Austria , Section 1 of the Railway Act provides :

"Railways within the meaning of this federal law are:

  1. Public railways, namely:
    1. Main lines;
    2. Branch lines:
    3. Trams;
  2. Non-public railways, namely:
    1. Connecting tracks;
    2. Material webs. "

Section 1b EisbG defines the rail transport companies authorized to use the railways:

"A railway company is a railway company that provides rail transport services on the rail infrastructure of main lines or networked branch lines and ensures traction, this also including those that only provide traction and that have a transport permit, a transport concession or a transport permit in accordance with Section 41 Approval or authorization has been granted. "

See also

Portal: Bahn  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the subject of railways


  • Franz Czygan (ed.): The railway in words and pictures. Basics of the practical railway system according to the latest state of railway engineering in an easily comprehensible representation. (2 volumes). H. Killinger, Nordhausen a. H. 1928.
  • The railway engineer. EGG. International trade journal for rail transport and technology . Eurailpress, DVV Media Group, Hamburg, ZDB -ID 240444-8 .
  • Joachim Fiedler: Railways. Planning, construction and operation of railways, S, U, light rail and trams. 5th, revised and expanded edition. Werner, Neuwied 2005, ISBN 3-8041-1612-4 . (Comprehensive overview, developed in close cooperation between science and industry).
  • Frank Grube (Hrsg.), Gerhard Richter (Hrsg.): The big book of the railroad. Hoffmann and Campe Verlag, Hamburg 1979, ISBN 3-455-08865-1 . (Covers the global railway system; in the appendix a table about the railways of the world, type designations of locomotives, an overview of the most important railway museums worldwide, a glossary, an overview of the authors, a register of persons, a register of railway companies, lines and lines, a list of Locomotive and train names and series and classes as well as photo, source and translation references).
  • Eberhard Jänsch (Ed.): The rail system . Manual. 2nd Edition. DVV Media Group GmbH, Hamburg 2016, ISBN 978-3-87154-511-5 (719 pages, brief description [accessed on June 7, 2016]).
  • Hans-Ludwig Leers: The development of the traffic in the industrial conurbation of the cities and communities of the Wuppertal in the 19th and early 20th century. A contribution to the history of traffic in the Wuppertal. Series of publications: Studies on the History of Modern Research, Volume 47. Kovač, Hamburg 2006, ISBN 978-3-8300-2609-9 . (At the same time: PhD dissertation, University of Wuppertal, Wuppertal 2005).
  • Alois von Lützenau: Declaration of the Austrian Railway Police Act approved by the highest resolution of January 30, 1847, quoting the relevant other laws. Braumüller and Seidel, Vienna 1848. (Online at ALO ).
  • Wolfgang Schivelbusch : History of the railway journey. On the industrialization of space and time in the 19th century. 4th edition (1st edition: 1977). Fischer pocket books, Volume 14828. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 3-596-14828-6 .
  • Viktor Freiherr von Röll (ed.): Enzyklopädie des Eisenbahnwesens , 2nd edition 1912–1923, Neusatz and facsimile on DVD-ROM, Directmedia Publishing , Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-89853-091-0 .
  • Wolfgang Kunz / Urs Kramer (ed.): Railway law. Systematic collection of laws and ordinances as well as legal acts of the European Community with explanations . Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, Baden-Baden, 47th supplement. 2017, ISSN  0946-8560
  • Jacques Meylan: Le domaine ferroviaire en droit comparé . Droz, Geneva 1966 (comparative law).
  • Sandie Calme: L'évolution du droit des transports ferroviaires en Europe . PU Aix-Marseille, Aix-Marseille 2008, ISBN 978-2-7314-0650-4 (legal history).
  • Martin Lodge: On different tracks: designing railway regulation in Britain and Germany . Praeger, Westport, Conn. 2002, ISBN 0-275-97601-7 (English).
  • Roman Michalczyk: European origins of the regulation of competition . Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2010, ISBN 978-3-16-150638-3 ( limited preview in Google book search).
  • Rüdiger Schmidt-Bendun: Liability of the railway companies: On the way to a harmonized railway and air traffic law in Europe . Jena Science Verl.-Ges, Jena 2007, ISBN 978-3-86653-015-7 (studies on international private and procedural law).
  • Sina Stamm: Railway Constitution and Railway Privatization - on constitutional admissibility and on the process of privatization of Deutsche Bahn AG , Diss. University of Potsdam 2010, Duncker & Humblot 2010, ISBN 978-3-428-13358-1

Web links

Wiktionary: Railway  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Railroad  album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Railway  Sources and Full Texts

Individual evidence

  1. ^ The World Factbook - Railways. In: cia.gov. Centeal Intelligence Agency, accessed July 19, 2020 .
  2. ^ Carl Herloßsohn : Ladies Conversations Lexicon . Ms. Volckmar, Leipzig 1835 ( zeno.org [accessed on January 2, 2019]).
  3. Data from the CIA
  4. House runways , feldbahn.at 2001, accessed January 16, 2013.
  5. Dietmar Lübke (coordination): Handbook Das System Bahn chap. 8.1 Performance studies and simulations. DVV Media Group GmbH | Eurailpress, Hamburg 2008, ISBN 978-3-7771-0374-7
  6. a b c Alfons Radtke: EDP ​​method for modeling the railway operation. Scientific work of the Institute for Transport, Railway Construction and Operation University of Hanover, Volume 64. Eurailpress Tetzlaff-Hestra, Hamburg 2006, ISBN 3-7771-0351-9 . (Also: habilitation thesis, University of Hanover, Hanover 2005).
  7. Thomas Böhm, Benedikt Scheier: Railonomics - for a needs-based infrastructure, software-supported integration of operational simulation and profitability analysis. In: Der Eisenbahningenieur , January 2010 issue, pp. 32–36.
  8. Marc-André Klemenz, Thomas Siefer: Missed the connection? That was once! - Development of a process for optimized passenger-dependent connection planning. In: Der Eisenbahningenieur , January 2010 issue, pp. 37–45.
  9. Werner Weigand: Investigation of network nodes - basis for expansion planning . In: Der Eisenbahningenieur , June 2010 issue, pp. 354–358.
  10. Wolfgang Fengler, Jochen Böttcher: Structured analysis of railway nodes ETR Eisenbahntechnische Rundschau, September 2007, pp. 526–532.
  11. a b IFEU Institute for Energy and Environmental Research Heidelberg, database results presented by Andreas Geißler: The intermodal database "Environment & Traffic" for use by sponsors ( memo of November 24, 2011 in the Internet Archive ), Heidelberg, Berlin 2010.
  12. a b Alliance pro Schiene: “Environmentally friendly mobile. Rail, car, plane, ship in an environmental comparison ” .
  13. a b c d BT-Drs. 17/2638 Answer of the Federal Government to the minor question from the MPs Gustav Herzog, Sören Bartol, Uwe Beckmeyer, other MPs and the SPD parliamentary group - printed matter 17/2056 -: Measures to improve noise protection in land transport (PDF; 160 kB).
  14. a b Umweltbundesamt : Status quo and limit value proposals for noise emissions from rail vehicles ( Memento from November 16, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Berlin 2011, accessed on March 31, 2011.
  15. Federal Environment Agency: Guideline and limit values ​​for noise emissions from road and rail traffic ( Memento of July 3, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Berlin 2011, accessed on March 31, 2011.
  16. Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development: Noise emissions 2008 in a route map ( Memento of the original from May 26, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF). @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.bmvbs.de
  17. ambient noise mapping along railway lines from the federal railways: .
  18. see addresses of the institutes , accessed on March 26, 2017.
  19. Small Subjects: Railways on the Small Subjects portal. Retrieved June 11, 2019 .
  20. see Bachelor Railway Engineering at the FH Erfurt , accessed on November 21, 2015.
  21. ^ Definition of "railway" by the German Reichsgericht from March 17, 1879 , file number: I 23/80, reference: RGZ 1, 247, 252. For the history of the judgment http://dvaulont.de/2011/06/16/die -Lawyers-and-their-definitions-the-railroad / .
  22. Railway Act of December 20, 1957 .
  23. Cableway Act .
  24. Permalink German National Library .
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on February 18, 2007 .