History of the railway

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Stephenson's "The Rocket" , 1829
Density of the European rail network in 1896

The history of the railroad , as a branch of the traditional history of technology, deals with the research and documentation of the history of rail transport , the associated technology and its technological development. In addition, the approach of an interdisciplinary cultural history has recently become increasingly important.

Similar to some other areas of history, mostly lay people or amateurs are involved in researching the relevant data and collecting documents and certificates. The cause is a fascination that still exists in this area of ​​technology. Proof of this are numerous railway museums run by associations or even private individuals, as well as the museum railways .

After a period of less attention between the end of the Second World War and around the 1980s , the museums run by public institutions are now receiving increased attention again.

Historical definitions

The term railroad was first found in 1801 in an article entitled “About the use of the railroad or iron ways to remove minerals and coal”, while the English term rail-road appeared as early as 1734. As early Brockhaus encyclopedias show, the definition of a railway initially only referred to the roadway or the iron-tipped railroad. This was also due to the fact that the first "railway" vehicles were almost entirely and even the first locomotives and even wheel bodies were largely made of wood as well as copper and copper alloys :

"Railways, bars or railways are mobile roads with fixed tracks of iron rails or of wood and stones studded with iron, on which the wheels of the wagons run, whereby the resistance which they suffer on ordinary roads is so much canceled that almost all that remains to be overcome is the friction on the axle and its locomotion is on average at least ten times easier. "

- Keyword "Railway" in the "Brockhaus-Bilder-Conversations-Lexikon" (1837)

“Railways, in the broadest sense those roads on which the vehicles are moved on fixed rail tracks. The arrangement of rail tracks greatly reduces the friction between the wheel iron and the road surface, which is otherwise significant when the vehicles are moving, and enables large loads to be moved with little force. "

- Brockhaus 14. A., Volume 5, 777

The drive aspect was later included in the definition:

"A railroad is a company aimed at the repeated movement of people or things over not entirely insignificant spatial stretches on a metal basis, which, through their consistency, construction and smoothness, enables the transport of large weights or the achievement of a relatively significant speed of transport and due to this peculiarity in connection with the natural forces also used to generate the transport movement ( steam , electricity , animal or human muscle activity , with an inclined plane of the railway also the own weight of the transport vessels and their load, etc.) in the operations of the Company is able to produce a comparatively enormous (depending on the circumstances only useful in a purposeful way, or human life-destroying and human health injurious) effect. "

- German Reich Court , judgment of March 17, 1879 .: RGZ 1, 247, 252.

Precursors and beginnings

Various early basic inventions were the prerequisites for the construction of a railway , such as the invention of the wheel , the creation of a track and guideway in the form of rails, and the manufacture of iron and steel . In England there was a pronounced production of steel and iron, and there was also a steadily increasing need for transport in the ore and coal mines, which already resulted in numerous rail routes. It was here that the steam engine was invented and significantly improved. This led to England becoming the birthplace of the machine-operated railroad or "railway" during the industrial revolution . The railway is thus both a product and a component of the industrial revolution.

First rail systems

Hungarian wooden railway, around 1558
Rail- guided hunt , based on an illustration by Georgius Agricola from 1556 ( De re metallica libri XII )

The forerunners of today's rails were ruts in ancient streets that gave the vehicles a certain guidance. Scientists believe that the first artificially created grooves were formed as early as the Copper Age more than 4,000 years ago. Such tracks were found in quarries of the ancient Egyptian empire and among the Greeks . Probably the most ancient by far longest Rillenweg was the 6 to 8.5 km long Schiffkarrenweg Diolkos across the Isthmus of Corinth ( Greece ). The highly developed Roman master builders also worked grooves into the paved surface on numerous Roman roads .

At the turn of the late Middle Ages to the early modern period , there was a decisive invention that probably originated in mines where heavy loads had to be transported: wooden tracks were laid and therefore no longer relied on existing roads to transport heavy loads. Georgius Agricola first demonstrated this in 1556 in his work De re metallica . But these wooden rails also had serious disadvantages: the wagons often derailed due to dirt in the grooves. In addition, the wood rot quickly on the damp ground, where it was exposed to the elements without protection. In 1515, Cardinal Matthäus Lang documents the tearing train to the Hohensalzburg Fortress : The oldest funicular railway still in existence today was operated in its original form over wooden rails with a hemp rope over a treadmill . The wooden rails probably came from Germany to England under Elizabeth I , who called German miners to promote English mining. It is true that such constructions are only firmly established in the hard coal mines of Newcastle upon Tyne for 1620 , but they may have been used in Caldbeck in Cumbria as early as the 1560s .

Cast iron ingot on wooden joists, 1767 in the Coalbrookdale ironworks, cross-sectional drawing

Rail technology was further developed in the course of the 18th century. The Englishman Ralph Allen invented the one-sided wheel flange in the 1730s , which guides the car safely on the track. A little later the ruts were laid out with iron or wooden rails were fitted with iron, so-called plateways . For this purpose, due to sales problems in 1767, Richard Reynolds, one of the owners of the Coalbrookdale ironworks, poured cast iron ingots into stock in plate form. In order to be able to use these meaningfully in the meantime, he had worn wooden plank rails of the hut railway laid out with them, where they served the intended purpose excellently. This is considered to be the birth of iron rails for vehicle wheels. Since the cast iron plates proved to be inadequate and too expensive, they were replaced by narrow rails made of cast iron that rested on wooden supports. The first railway line with solid iron rails serving several residents was the Derby Canal Railway , which opened in 1795 .

From 1770 sleeper timber was no longer used in England, and iron rails were now placed on stones. Later, with the heavier loads after the introduction of mechanical drives, the directional stability of rails mounted on stones became insufficient, so that the wood, as is well known, returned in the form of the load-bearing cross-sleepers - for almost two centuries. With the inventions and further developments in the 18th century, the island kingdom had overtaken the continent.

Horse rides

The first drives over longer distances were made with muscle power, preferably horses . In 1794, wooden planks were replaced by cast iron rails on the Rauendahler Schiebeweg, which had been in operation since 1787 , and the Derby Canal Railway opened in 1795. The latter is considered to be the first railway in the sense that its rails were not only made of iron, but that their transport services were also available to various users was standing. Slopes were often used, on which loaded wagons with the handbrake on rolled downhill using gravity and were pulled up again by horses empty. This simple technique was used particularly in northern England. In 1801 the British Parliament licensed the first public transport train between Wandsworth and Croydon near London, whereby users had to bring not only their wagons but also their horses. In 1809 a horse-drawn tram drove in Philadelphia for the first time in the USA .

First class passenger transport on the Linz – Budweis route, drawing by A. Krúzner
"Pictures from the first Austrian railway, based on watercolor sketches by the chief official Fr. Hölzlhuber"

Friedrich Harkort founded a consortium in 1820 with the aim of building a horse-drawn tram from the coal mining area of ​​Schlebusch to Haspe . The Schlebusch-Harkort coal railway with a length of one Prussian mile , approx. 7½ kilometers, was essentially completed in 1828 and was the first railway to start operating on this length. The coal was transported on the narrow-gauge railway with horses.

The horse-drawn railway Budweis – Linz was built between 1825 and 1832 , but the official commissioning of the first 50 km long section did not take place until September 7, 1827, nine weeks after the 18 km long Saint-Étienne – Andrézieux line in France. The railway in Austria ran over 128 km from Budweis in Bohemia to Linz , making it the longest horse-drawn railway in the world. Similar horse-drawn railways in the Austrian Empire were built between Prague and Lana and between Pressburg and Tyrnau at that time .

In the Ruhr area, an approximately 30 km long network of horse-drawn trams has been developing since 1787, whose well-known representatives include the Rauendahler Schiebeweg and the Schlebusch-Harkorter coal railway from 1829. On September 20, 1831, a horse-drawn tram drove for the first time in Germany, on which two years later passenger cars were initially available “for fun”. At the time, that event took place, which Friedrich Harkort "The train from Minden to Cologne" as commented in his 1833 book, "In Deilthal those railway was built, which was the honor in part, the name of His Royal Highness Prince William of Prussia lead to be allowed. "the route of the Prince William Railway was (PWE) a Prussian mile long (7.5 km), came out of Hinsbeck at the Ruhr (today Essen-copper rotating ) to Nierenhof (today Velbert -Langenberg). It was the first railway stock corporation on German soil and for the first 13 years was operated exclusively with horse power.

First mechanical drives

Coal wagon from 1829 of the English coal mine in South Hetton, oldest surviving railway vehicle outside of Great Britain in the Nuremberg Transport Museum

Because of their pioneering role in the industrialization of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, England and Scotland were not only the countries in which the first steps were taken in the construction of iron railways, but also in the modern use of steam power, and consequently also worldwide first steam-powered railways went into operation, but later also with the first electrically powered rail vehicles were built. With the invention of the steam engine by Thomas Newcomen around 1712 and its further development by James Watt and Richard Trevithick , attempts soon arose to use it to drive vehicles. The first machine drives for the mine railways were stationary and drove rope pulling devices.

Contemporary drawing of Trevithick's steam car

In 1784 , the technician William Murdoch , who worked for James Watt's company, built a small mobile steam engine the size of a toy, in which a cylinder with a stroke of only 51 millimeters drove a piston 19 millimeters in diameter. In 1794, the American inventor John Fitch built a model for a steam locomotive on rails. As early as 1769, Nicholas Cugnot and in 1801 and 1803 Richard Trevithick each succeeded in building a " steam car " in usable size that could drive on the road with its own drive. Soon after, in 1804, Trevithick built a self-propelled tractor unit for the mine railroad at Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales  - the first steam locomotive was born. In a letter, Trevithick reports on the first trip on February 13, 1804, when the machine is said to have pulled five wagons with ten tons of freight and an additional 70 people over the 15 km route in four hours and five minutes. Despite this success, however, it was soon removed from the tracks and, as originally intended, used as a rolling mill drive. Richard Trevithick can claim to have created the first vehicles that provided usable mileage with steam power.

Trevithick's machine still ran on wheels without flanges. As was usual with the wagonway constructions of the time, the track guidance was ensured by flanks on the inside of the rails. Since the cast iron rails used often broke, the use of this first steam locomotive was of limited use. The development and production of the forged or rolled steel rail was therefore a further prerequisite, which enabled the further development and spread of the railway.

The coalition wars led, among other things, to a dramatic rise in the prices of animal feed. This made the locomotive economical as a means of transport if it could be perfected. In those years there were more or less successful development attempts by Timothy Hackworth from 1808, John Blenkinsop in 1812, William Hedley in 1813 and George Stephenson , who built his first mining locomotive for the Killingworth coal mine, the Blücher , in 1814 . Since the still light locomotives were not trusted to be able to move loads solely through the friction between wheel and rail, aids were used for the time being. John Blenkinsop built the first cogwheel locomotives in 1812 . Under the direction of William Hedley, however, Puffing Billy, Wylam Dilly and Lady Mary , the first really usable adhesion locomotives, were used in the Wylam Collery coal mine from 1814/15 , which were then in operation for 40 years.

First public railways with machine operation

However , engineer George Stephenson , who came from the north-east of England , played a decisive role in the development and comprehensive introduction of the steam train . His designs improved the preparatory work of earlier railway engineers considerably. When Edward Pease received parliamentary approval in 1821 for the construction of a horse-powered "tramroad" between Stockton and Darlington in north-east England, Stephenson suggested that he build the railway with iron rails as a "Railway". A first stretch of this " Stockton and Darlington Railway " of nine miles was opened on September 27, 1825 with the journey of the Stephenson-built locomotive "No. 1 "opened. For the first time in the world, a locomotive was also used to transport people , albeit mostly with horse power in later regular operations. The track width of the line was 1435 mm; it subsequently became the standard on most railways in the world, as many railways in Europe and North America began their operations with Stephenson locomotives. There was also the first casualty in machine-run rail operations when the later called “Locomotion” was called “No. 1 ”exploded on July 1, 1828, killing machinist John Cree.

The history of the Stockton and Darlington Railway is well documented and offers many insights into the circumstances surrounding railway construction at that time. With the Stockton and Darlington Railway, the previously common principle of the wagonway (smooth wheels without flanges and rails with internal guide flanks) was abandoned in favor of the "Railway" common today. The principle of the wagonway only recently came back with the track bus , but has since been perfected with external track guidance flanks and additional guide rollers.

Inspired by the success of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, the next public line opened in 1830 between the port city of Liverpool and the textile industry city of Manchester . The first locomotive to be chosen was The Rocket , which had won the famous Rainhill race. The top speed of the Rocket was 48 km / h. Completely new was a 1840 to schedule guided people and goods. Here, too, a fatality was to be mourned again (after further boilers cracking in the meantime of various locomotives, in which machinists or stokers were damaged): The MP William Huskisson was run over by the Rocket and died. This was the first fatal railway accident with a prominent death. The railway company's investors were mainly interested in goods transport, but after the opening on September 15, 1830, to their amazement, they discovered that passenger train traffic was similarly profitable. The success of the line had a lasting impact on the development of the railway in Great Britain and abroad. The company organized numerous events for those interested in further railway projects, and many railway workers gained their first experience on the line.

The first railways were all short, usually connecting mines or, in the case of the 35 miles long Liverpool and Manchester Railway, connecting a city to a nearby port. The first steam-powered long-distance railway in Europe was (after the first horse-powered one between Budweis and Linz ) the 82 miles (132 km) long Grand Junction Railway in Central England, scheduled to operate from July 4, 1837. The south connecting London – Birmingham line actually had should be completed at the same time, but could not be fully opened until September 17, 1838 due to technical problems with the alignment.

Early spread to North America

After the opening of the railway from Stockton to Darlington in England with a steam locomotive , the USA began to show interest in it. Similar to later on the European continent, here too the English initially dominated the market with their many years of experience. A total of 114 English locomotives were exported to the USA.

The Stourbridge Lion , built in England in 1828 and made its first run on American soil on August 8, 1829, is considered the first locomotive to operate in the USA . With it, two more machines from the same manufacturer Foster, Rastrick and Company and two months earlier the Pride of Newcastle from the workshop of Robert Stephenson , son of the inventor of the locomotive, were all delivered to the Delaware & Hudson Canal Company. The first steam locomotives, both built exclusively in the USA in 1830, are the Best Friend of Charleston , built in New York, and the Tom Thumb, built by Peter Cooper's Canton Iron Works near Baltimore .

On May 24, 1830, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad between Baltimore and Ellicott's Mills opened with the Tom Thumb . As expected, she won the same year race against a team of horses. A year later, on January 15, 1831, the South Carolina Canal and Railroad began operating with the Best Friend of Charleston . The fact that it was destroyed in a boiler bang in June 1831, like many of the first machines in England , remains a footnote in history. 1831 founded Matthias William Baldwin in Philadelphia , the Baldwin Locomotive Works , which until 1945 the world's largest steam locomotives - Manufacturers developed. From the later Eddystone location , Baldwin also supplied locomotives of all sizes to railway companies in England , France , India and Egypt . The next largest steam locomotive manufacturers in the USA were the manufacturers, which were merged in the American Locomotive Company (ALCO), and LIMA Locomotive Works , with which in 1950 a merger to form the Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Corporation took place. The attempt of this company merger to establish itself in the production of diesel locomotives, which became increasingly popular from 1930 , was unsuccessful. With the end of the steam locomotive era, the story of Baldwin, LIMA and ALCO also ended in 1956.

“Conquest” of the West, around 1860

The expansion of the rail network in the USA soon left the motherland of rail construction behind. As early as 1833, the South Carolina Canal and Railroad between Charleston and Hamburg was operating the world's longest railway line at the time, at 219 kilometers, and on May 10, 1869, the first transcontinental connection between the east and west coast was opened with the nailing of the Promontory Summit . The route from New York to San Francisco was 5,319 kilometers.

In Canada , development progressed more slowly. In 1836 the first railroad was opened with the Champlain and St. Lawrence Railroad near Montréal , but it was not until the Guarantee Act of 1849 that railway construction could be pushed ahead strongly. In contrast to its southern neighbor, the USA, which promoted railway construction with a view to the “conquest of the West”, it represented a question of national unity for Canada. In 1885 the Canadian Pacific Railway opened the first Canadian transcontinental railway.

Spread to continental Europe from 1835

Route length according to European countries, beginning of 1885
country expansion (in km)
Great Britain
Europe as a whole: 190,134


After England and France, Belgium was the third European country to open an exclusively steam-powered railway line. In Belgium - even more so than England - industrialization took place through coal and steel. Another favorable factor was the high population density in the western European country. The first purely steam-powered railway line on the European continent was opened on May 5, 1835 between Brussels and Mechelen . Belgium was also the first country to subsidize the construction of railway lines. In addition to Switzerland and the Czech Republic, it has one of the densest railway networks in the world. The early expansion of the Belgian railway network also had an impact on western Germany and northern France and contributed to the creation of the first continuous rail link between Paris and Cologne in 1846, earlier than most long-distance connections within the German Confederation and within France.

In contrast to its southern neighbor, Belgium, which is characterized by the coal and steel industry, the railways initially had little importance for the Netherlands with its well-developed waterway network. The Amsterdam - Haarlem line, which was opened on September 20, 1839, was still broad gauge and could only do little to match the parallel canals. The promotion of railway construction only began when the Belgian ports were able to attract trade from Germany through their rail connection and put the Dutch ports at a competitive disadvantage.

States in the German Confederation

Draft of a railway network for Germany by Friedrich List

The railway age began for Germany on December 7, 1835, apart from the unsuccessful steam wagons of the Königliche Eisengießerei Berlin from 1816 and 1817 and the horse-drawn railways, which were mainly laid out as coal railways. On that day they celebrated with the opening of the Ludwig Railway between Nuremberg and Fürth the German railways were born. Since coal procurement was still very expensive until the Leipzig – Hof railway line ( Saxon-Bavarian Railway ) opened in 1851 - the coal to operate the Adler was brought in from Zwickau - this six-kilometer stretch was still mainly operated as a horse-drawn railway. 75% of the train journeys were still carried out with horses as draft animals , only 25% by steam locomotives. The first exclusively steam-powered German railway was the Leipzig - Althen line of the Leipzig-Dresden Railway, opened on April 24, 1837 . In the following fifteen years, the basis for today's route network was systematically created, using Friedrich List 's route map as a template .

In order not to keep shareholders and treasurers waiting too long for the first returns from their immense investments, several lines were opened as soon as the first track was operational, although these long-distance lines were planned to be double-track from the start and bridges and tunnels had been built for two tracks.

The first steam train in the Habsburg Empire ran between Floridsdorf (now Vienna ) and Deutsch-Wagram in 1837 . It was part of the Kaiser-Ferdinand-Nordbahn to Austrian Silesia , which was initially completed as far as Brno on July 7, 1839, just under three months after the opening of the first German long-distance line from Leipzig to Dresden . The Danube Monarchy also carried out pioneering work in the construction of mountain routes. On July 17, 1854, the first mountain railway in the world was opened with the Semmering Railway , at a time when the development of the Central Plateau was still being worked on in neighboring Switzerland .

Two wealthy bankers emerged from the financing of the first main routes built from Vienna, Salomon Rothschild , born in Frankfurt am Main, and the Greek Georg Simon Freiherr von Sina, born in Niš under Ottoman rule . During the creation of the rail link between Vienna and Budapest, there was a protracted planning conflict between the Austrian authorities, who had licensed a route south of the Danube, and the Hungarian authorities, who first wanted to build a route via Hungary's second capital Pozsony ( Bratislava , Pressburg) - and got.


Railway construction in France began in the coal area around Saint-Étienne with three contiguous lines operated by different companies, all of which were built according to the English model in standard gauge. The first to open in 1827 was the Saint-Étienne – Andrézieux railway line, which was 18 km long and initially only served to transport coal and remained a horse-drawn tram until 1844. This was followed from 1827 to 1832 by the construction of the Saint-Étienne – Lyon railway line , on which steam locomotives were used on a trial basis from 1829 and in train operations from 1831, built by the engineer Marc Seguin . In 1831, regular passenger transport began here, albeit with horse power. On the third line, Roanne – Andrézieux , opened in 1832/33, freight trains were pulled by English steam locomotives from the start.

The first railway line in the Ile-de-France and at the same time the first railway line in France exclusively reserved for passenger traffic was the (suburban) line Paris - Le Pecq , which opened in 1837 . The first passengers were carried on this railway line on August 26th. The extension to Saint-Germain-en-Laye was not put into operation until 10 years later ( route number 975 000 ). Because of the steep ascent to Saint-Germain-en-Laye, an atmospheric railway was used until 1860 .

After the railway construction in France got off to a hesitant start in the first few years, due to strong public reservations in the affected areas, a law was passed on June 11, 1842 to promote the development of the whole country with a star of main lines. The law encouraged the state to work together with private capital, as the latter alone did not prove to be sufficient for expanding the network. The forms of state support were manifold: grants in money or in the form of land (up to 1884 a total of more than 1½ billion francs ), interest guarantee grants (as a result of the law of June 11, 1859), including grants for the Algerian Railways reached the total amount of 700 million francs by 1883, favored mergers, long concessions and mild application of the state supervision right. The total length of the French railway network at the beginning of 1885 was over 30,000 km.


The Switzerland , now often referred to as "Bahnland no. 1", remained isolated from the rapid development in its neighboring countries, as Switzerland then one hand was considered the poorhouse of Western Europe and thus lacked funds and on the other military conflicts (to 1847 Sonderbundskrieg ) development prevented . Although there was already a train station in Basel in 1844 , this was only the end point of the French route from Strasbourg . It was not until 1847 that the first federal route was opened with the Spanish Brötli Railway from Zurich to Baden . In 1882, Switzerland caught up with the Austrian lead with the opening of the Gotthard Railway . With a length of 15,003 meters, the Gotthard tunnel was a remarkable structure for the time.

With 5,177 kilometers on an area of ​​41,285 km² , Switzerland has the densest railway network in the world as of 2015, apart from the city-states of Monaco and the Vatican .


As the first now Polish railway line in Silesia , which was not yet part of Poland , the section Breslau (Wrocław) - Oława ( Oława ) of the Upper Silesian Railway was opened on April 1, 1842 , and the second - at that time not yet part of Poland - was opened on August 15, 1843 Berlin-Szczecin Railway .

In November 1843, the Warsaw-Vienna Railway, founded on Polish initiative as a joint stock company and taken over by the government of Congress Poland on July 4, 1843, opened its first section between Warsaw and Pruszków in the Russian part of Poland . Although located in the Russian Empire, the line from Warsaw to the Russian-Austrian border had European standard gauge of 1435 mm.

Southern Europe

The first machine-operated railway in southern Europe began operating in 1839 on the Naples – Portici railway, which later became part of Italy . After the unification to the Kingdom of Italy in 1861, several regional mergers of railways with changing private and state management emerged from private and state railways of the Italian small states , which were merged into the Ferrovie dello Stato by law in 1905 . This company, in turn, was split up again in 2000 into a number of subsidiaries for individual operating divisions.

1856: Opening of the first railway line in Portugal

The Iberian Peninsula plays a special role in the history of the railway. For military reasons, the railway network was laid out in the so-called Spanish broad gauge (1,676 mm in Spain , 1,665 mm in Portugal ). From today's point of view, this was a wrong decision because the integration of the Iberian railways into the European standard gauge network requires complex gauging systems . Only recently have attempts been made to remedy this handicap by building new standard gauge lines. The first railroad on the Iberian Peninsula ran from Barcelona to Mataró on October 28, 1848 ; the entrepreneur Miguel Biada had campaigned for it from 1840 until his death. In Portugal, the first line ( between Lisbon and Carregado ) went into operation on October 28, 1856 .

The first railway line in Greece opened on February 18, 1869. It connects the port of Piraeus with Athens train station, about 10 km away . In the 19th century, more railroad kilometers were built in the then Ottoman- ruled north of what is now Greece than in the Kingdom of Greece. The Piraeus – Thessaloniki railway has only been connecting the regional networks and individual lines of southern and central Greece with the network built in the north since the 20th century .

Northern Europe

The first railway lines on Danish territory were built in the Duchy of Schleswig and had been in Germany since the German-Danish War in 1864. The first railway line in the Danish heartland ran from Copenhagen to Roskilde in 1847 . In 1869, shunting locomotives like the Gamle Ole were used in the port of Aarhus .

In Scandinavia , the railroad caught on relatively late for several reasons: Almost all economic and population centers are by the sea and the population density is low in most regions. In some cases, the industrialization process in Northern Europe proceeded differently than in Western and Central Europe (keyword industrialization of agriculture). In Sweden , railway construction began in 1850 under state control. The first Swedish State Railways (SJ) train ran between Stockholm and Gothenburg . The example of Norway shows that Scandinavia played a laggard role in the history of the railways . The country, which has been independent since 1905, was only able to complete its current network in 1962 with the completion of the route to Bodø . Also in Finland , at that time still part of the tsarist empire, the first train ran between Helsinki and Hämeenlinna in 1862 . The completion of the Finnish railway network even took some of the time into the 1980s.


The first railway line of the then tsarist empire was opened on October 30, 1837 between Saint Petersburg and the tsar's residence Tsarskoye Selo, 23 km away, with a gauge of 1,829 mm. The locomotive for this train was built by Timothy Hackworth in England. The following summer, the two-kilometer extension to Pavlovsk was opened to traffic. Since the Tsarskoye Selo Railway led to the aristocracy's amusement center, where Johann Strauss played among others , it was mockingly referred to as the “railway that leads to the inn”. After the construction of this line, development in Russia was very slow; after ten years there were only 381 km of railway lines.

Apart from the in standard gauge executed Warsaw-Vienna railway (opened 1843-1848), was the norm mm for the other Russian railway buildings a gauge of 1524. There are all kinds of legends about the origin of this measure of the Russian broad gauge. In reality, the Russian standard dimensions were set by a commission preparing the construction of the Saint Petersburg – Moscow railway line . The 1,829 mm gauge of the Tsarskoye Selo railway was discussed as an alternative .

The trains from Western Europe could therefore not run continuously at first. The problem was later solved by replacing complete wheel sets or bogies at the border crossings, and rolling stock with variable gauge and gauge changing systems are also used. The passengers can remain seated in the car while the wheels are moved to the new position on the axles within a few minutes. Eastern Poland , which then belonged to Russia , initially received a standard-gauge rail connection when Warsaw was connected to the line from Vienna , while the Warsaw-Petersburg railway , built between 1851 and 1862, had a gauge of 1524 mm .

The Trans-Siberian Railway , which began in 1891, was of great importance for the development of Siberia . In October 1916 it was completed after 26 years of construction from Moscow to Vladivostok . With a length of around 9,300 km, the Transsib is the longest railway line in the world and to this day the only continuous west-east rail link in Asia . The present network of the Russian Federation was not essentially completed until 1984 with the completion of the Baikal-Amur-Magistrale (BAM).

Worldwide spread from 1850

The worldwide development of the railway network shows an almost exponential growth until the late 19th century. In 1830 there were only 332 kilometers of railway lines, ten years later it was already 8,591 kilometers and in 1850 38,022 kilometers. Another ten years later, with a route length of 106,886 kilometers, the limit of 100,000 had already been exceeded. The statistics indicate 221,980 kilometers for 1870 and 367,235 kilometers for 1880. The following diagram graphically illustrates this development up to 1883:

Kilometer development

For comparison: in 2013 the worldwide route length was 1,148,186 kilometers.

See also: List of countries by rail network


The railway network in Asia has developed very unevenly due to the large differences in population density . The continent's first railway ran on November 18, 1852 in India between Bombay and Thana . India adopted the gauge of 1,676 mm for the further, rapidly advancing route construction. The first train ran in what is now Pakistan (then British India ) in 1861, and in Sri Lanka in 1864 . The route network increased from 1,350 km in 1860 to 14,977 km in 1880 to 36,188 km in 1900. In addition, an extensive meter gauge network was created , which has been consistently converted to the Indian broad gauge since the 1960s.

The railway in China (then Imperial China ) began with a one kilometer 762 mm narrow gauge railway in Beijing . It was destroyed out of superstition immediately after it opened . On July 3, 1876, the 14.5 km long Wusung Railway was opened in Shanghai . It operated until October 20, 1877, when it was demolished. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were 9,000 kilometers of railway lines; In 1949 it was 22,000 km. In July 2006, the highest railway line in the world from Beijing to Lhasa was opened in China with an altitude of up to 5,000 m above sea level .

The railway network in Iran had difficult beginnings. The narrow-gauge railway from Tehran to Abd-al-Azim in Rey , which went into operation in 1888, was Iran's first railway line. It was an economic failure, because the Islamic clergy demonized the railway as "satanic" after a fatal accident and warned against using it. It was not until Reza Shah's reign (1925 to 1941) that new railway lines were built. The Trans-Iranian Railway , built between 1927 and 1939, was supposed to bring about the breakthrough for a rail-bound transport system in Iran with a distance of 1,394 km. On August 25, 1941, 35,000 British and 120,000 Soviet soldiers marched into and occupied Iran . By the end of the war, five million tons of military equipment and supplies had been transported to the Soviet Union on the Persian Corridor . After the occupation troops withdrew, the construction of further routes began. Today's route network covers around 11,000 km. Another 7,000 km are planned.

The rail transport in Japan began on June 12, 1872, a train between Tokyo and Yokohama . At the end of 1900 there was a network of 5,892 km, mainly on the main island of Honshu . The 3,613 m long Kammon Tunnel , opened on June 11, 1942, connects Honshū and Kyūshū , the main island south of Honshū. In 2015, the rail network in Japan was 27,311 km long.

South America and the Caribbean

The first continuously steam-powered railroad ran from 1837-1838 on the Caribbean island of Cuba between Havana and the centers of sugar cane cultivation Bejucal and Güines, southeast of Havana. The locomotive resembled Stephenson's "Rocket" and was supplied by the English company Braithwaite. By 1853, all of the then most modern sugar plantation areas and the ports of Havana, Matanzas and Cárdenas in western Cuba were connected in the first construction phase.

The first railroad on the continent ran in 1851 from Lima in Peru to the seaport of Callao, thirteen kilometers away . This short route goes back to plans by Richard Trevithick , who planned a route from Callao to the 4,302 m high silver mining town of Cerro de Pasco as early as 1817 . It was not until 1868 that Trevithick's plans to continue the route were taken up again by the American Henry Meiggs . In September 1892 the first Ferrocarril Central Andino train was able to travel from Lima to La Oroya . This railway line was until 2005 the highest standard-gauge railway line in the world with a vertex at 4781 m above sea level. NN at La Galera.

Between 1851 and 1860 the Lokomotora Copiapó operated in Chile between the cities of Copiapó and Caldera . This route is the second oldest rail link in South America. In 1861 Paraguay's first railroad ran, the short route ran from the Estación San Francisco to Trinidad in Asunción . The tracks of the first railroad are still in the "Botanical Garden" (Trinidad) today.

The rail network in the countries of South America is rather wide-meshed and patchy. The Argentina railroad is an exception , although the first train did not run between Buenos Aires and Floresta until 1857 . Today the country has a dense rail network that starts in a star shape from Buenos Aires, but is practically only used for passenger transport in the province of Buenos Aires .


Railways were built in Australia from 1854. At around the same time, two routes were opened in Victoria between the city center and the port of Melbourne (see Sandridge Bridge ) and in South Australia between Goolwa and Port Elliot .

Since the Australian colonies formed legally independent units before the foundation of the Australian Confederation (January 1, 1901), each - depending on the size of the area and economic strength - chose the gauge that was considered appropriate. Mainly represented were and are:

Considered continentally and when the systems came together, these different gauges led to numerous incompatible interfaces in the network. It was not until 1970 that the trans-Australian, 3,961 km long east-west connection could be continuously re-established to standard gauge. On January 15, 2004, after a hundred years of planning, another large transcontinental line was completed with the Darwin - Adelaide route , this time in a north-south direction through the Australian continent.


In many African states - especially in those under British rule - existing railroad networks were extensively expanded at the beginning of the 20th century. Cecil Rhodes in southern Africa provided substantial political support .

With the independence of the states, the former colonial powers lost interest in network development and maintenance, wars and conflicts were detrimental to the railway system, so that numerous railway lines, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, only functioned to a limited extent for a long time or were completely unusable. There are currently well-developed networks in Namibia , Botswana , South Africa , Tunisia and Morocco . Investments in the rail network have been made in numerous countries since the 1990s, mostly with foreign capital, for example in Tanzania , Mozambique , Angola , Swaziland and Zambia .

Chronological overview of the first railways

country opening route Length (km)
England 27 Sep 1825 Stockton – Darlington 41
France June 30, 1827 Saint-Étienne – Andrézieux (horse-drawn tram, the first on the continent, later converted into a locomotive) 18.3
Austria 0Sep 7 1827 Budweis – Trojern (horse-drawn tram as well.) 54
United States December 28, 1829 Baltimore-Ellicott's Mills 24
Germany ( Prussia ) Sep 20 1831 Kupferdreh - Velbert (renamed after the opening to Prinz-Wilhelm-Eisenbahn , Pferdebahn desgl.) 7.5
Belgium 0May 3, 1835 Brussels – Mechelen 20th
Germany ( Bavaria ) 0December 7, 1835 Nuremberg – Fürth (first locomotive train) 6th
France Aug 26, 1837 Paris – St. Germain (first locomotive train) 21st
Austria Nov 17, 1837 Floridsdorf – Deutsch Wagram ( Kaiser Ferdinands-Nordbahn ) (first locomotive train) 13.1
Cuba   1837 Havana – Guanajay 50
Russia , europ. 0Apr 4, 1838 Petersburg – Tsarskoye Selo 27
Netherlands Sep 20 1839 Amsterdam – Haarlem 17th
Italy 0Oct 3, 1839 Naples Portici 8th
Hungary 27 Sep 1840 First part of the Tyrnau horse-drawn railway : Pressburg - Sankt Georgen (converted into a locomotive train in the 1870s) 8th
Switzerland June 15, 1844 Basel – St. Louis (first route on Swiss territory) 1.9
Jamaica Nov 21, 1845 Kingston-Spanish Town-St. Angil 25th
Hungary July 15, 1846 Pest - Vác (first part of the Vienna – Budapest line ) (first locomotive) 33.6
Denmark June 27, 1847 København – Roskilde 32
Switzerland 0Aug 9, 1847 Zurich – Baden (first line entirely on Swiss territory) 23.3
Spain Oct. 30, 1848 Barcelona – Mataró 28
Canada  May 1850 St. Lawrence & Industrial Railroad line 19th
Mexico   1850 Veracruz – Medellin 22nd
Sweden   1851 Kristinehamn – Sjöanden 12
Peru   1851 Lima – Callao 13
Chile  Jan. 1852 Caldera – Copiapó 89
East India Apr 18, 1853 Bombay-Thana 35
Norway 0July 1, 1853 Oslo (Kristiania) –Strømmen 18th
Portugal   1854 Lisbon – Carregado 36
Brazil Apr 29, 1854 Porta de Mauá - Raiz da Serra 18th
South Australia May 18, 1854 Goolwa-Port Elliot 10
Egypt  Jan. 1856 Alexandria – Cairo 211
Argentina 29 Aug 1857 Buenos Aires – Floresta 10
Turkey , asiatic.   1857 Smyrna-aidin 130
natal June 26, 1860 Durban Landing Area 3
Finland Jan. 31, 1862 Helsinki – Hämeenlinna 108
Cape country Feb 13, 1862 Cape Town – Eerste River 34
Algeria Aug 15, 1862 Algiers – Blida 51
Paraguay 0Oct 1, 1863 Asuncion – Itangua 40
New Zealand 0Dec. 1, 1863 Christchurch – Lyttleton 2
Mauritius  May 1864 Georgetown-Mahaica 32
Venezuela  Feb. 1866 Puerto Cabello-Palmito ?
Bulgaria 0Nov 7, 1866 Rustschuk – Varna (belonged to the Ottoman Empire until 1878) 224
Java (Indonesia) 0Aug 9, 1867 Samareng-Tangweng 79
Tahiti   1868 Punaunja – Terapena Bay 4th
Uruguay 0Jan. 1, 1869 Montevideo – Los Pedros 18th
Greece Feb. 18, 1869 Athens – Piraeus port 10
Romania Aug 26, 1869 București – Giurgiu (passenger traffic from October 31, 1869) 70
Colombia 03 Dec 1870 Sabarilla-Baranquilla 30th
Turkey , europ. 0Jan. 5, 1871 Constantinople (Istanbul) –Kütschük-Chekmedsche (October 4th, 1860. Konstanza – Cernavoda: belonged to the Ottoman Empire until 1878) 17.2
Honduras 25 Sep 1871 Caballos – Santiago 60
Japan July 12, 1872 Tokyo – Yokohama 29
Tunisia 0Sep 1 1872 Tunis – Goletta 35
Costa Rica   1873 Alajuela – Cartago 64
China June 30, 1876 Shanghai – Kiangwan (destroyed in 1877) 47
Ecuador   1876 Yaguachi – Puente de Chimbo 69
Malta Feb. 28, 1883 Valletta – Notabile (Mdina) 10.2
Serbia Sep 15 1884 Belgrade – Niš 244
Philippines   1891 Ferrocarril de Manila – Dagupan 195.4
Thailand 28 Mar 1897 Bangkok – Ayutthaya 71
Congo 0July 1, 1897 Matadi – Stanley Pool 399
Korea Sep 18 1899 Seoul-Chemulpo 42
German South West Africa 0June 1, 1900 Swakopmund – Karibib 180
Cyprus Oct 21, 1905 Nicosia – Famagusta 58

Technical advancements

Security technology

Around 1868 George Westinghouse developed the compressed air brake , a brake that he patented in 1872 and for the production of which he founded the WABCO-Westinghouse Air Brake Company in 1869. As a result, the compressed air brake became the most widespread braking system for rail vehicles worldwide . In 1873, the freight office secretary Eli Janney patented the automatic carriage coupling named after him . In 1893, the compressed air brake and the Janney coupling were prescribed as mandatory equipment for railways in the USA with the “Safety Appliance Act”. This then led to a rapid reduction in accidents with rail vehicles. Outside the USA, too, the adoption of compressed air brakes and automatic couplings increased the efficiency and safety of rail operations. The Janney coupling was used throughout North America and Mexico, as well as in Australia , South Africa and the People's Republic of China .

Electric motors

Electric train from Siemens & Halske at the Berlin trade fair in 1879

As early as the 1830s, there were attempts in various countries to drive rail vehicles electrically. The main initial obstacle was the power supply, which came from galvanic batteries and later accumulators , which proved either too weak or too heavy. The electric rail vehicle drive only became really suitable for use with the introduction of stationary power generators and the supply of the locomotive via conductor rails or overhead lines . In 1879, Siemens & Halske built a 50 cm track and a four-wheel electric locomotive, originally intended as a mining railway for Cottbus , for the Berlin trade fair . It was fed by a stationary dynamo via a conductor rail mounted in the middle of the track , with the rails serving as return conductors in the circuit . From May to September 1881, the same train went under the general patent and design exhibition in the Palm Garden in Frankfurt - Westend . Similar small exhibition tracks were soon presented elsewhere, for example at the Viennese industrial exhibition in 1880 and by Thomas Alva Edison in 1883 at an exhibition in Chicago .

After making significant improvements to electric motors, Frank Julian Sprague built an electrically powered "streetcar" with an associated overhead line in 1888 and built the first successful, larger electric tram system in Richmond for the "Richmond Union Passenger Railway" , which comprised a total of 40 powered cars.

Most early commercially or publicly operated electric railways initially used tram-type railcars. This resulted from the fact that the size of electric motors was far smaller than that of steam engines with the same power, so there was always room for passengers on the powered rail car. Only in cramped conditions, such as with the London Underground or when there was a greater demand for power, did the switch from motor coaches with passenger transport to the locomotive design of the motor vehicle arise. For the first time, pure electric locomotives appear to have been used in commercial public service, as well as to a greater extent on the underground line built by the City and South London Railway (CSLR).

The First World War 1914–1918 brought bottlenecks in the supply of coal for steam locomotives in Europe . Electricity as an alternative energy was therefore especially welcome where it could be generated cheaply without expensive material imports. This was especially the case in the European Alpine countries with energy generation from hydropower . The railway operation with electric traction therefore prevailed especially from 1918 in Austria , Switzerland , Bavaria , northern Italy and the French Alpine region. Subsequently, Switzerland was also the first country in the world to fully electrify its railways.

High speed traffic

The following two tables give an overview of the speed development on the one hand in test and on the other hand in regular operation:

Peak values:

  • 1769 France, Cugnot steam car , 3–4.5 km / h
  • 1830 England, Liverpool – Manchester, “ Rocket ” locomotive , 48 km / h
  • 1848 France, first locomotive faster than 100 km / h: 126 km / h
  • 1889 USA, Baltimore, electric railcar reaches 185 km / h
  • 1903 Germany, AEG railcar with three-phase drive, 210 km / h on the military railway near Berlin
  • 1931 Germany, rail zeppelin with propeller drive by Ing.Kruckenberg, 230 km / h on the Berlin-Hamburg railway between Karstädt and Wittenberge
  • 1938 Great Britain, LNER steam locomotive A4 Pacific “Mallard” , still valid record for steam traction, 202 km / h
  • 1955, March 28, France, SNCF - CC 7107 electric locomotive reaches 331 km / h
  • 1955, March 29, France, SNCF - the BB 9004 electric locomotive also reaches 331 km / h
  • 1981 France, SNCF, TGV electric multiple unit , 380 km / h
  • 1988 Deutsche Bundesbahn, ICE experimental electric multiple unit, 406.9 km / h
  • 1990 France, SNCF, electric multiple unit TGV-Atlantique No. 325, 515.3 km / h
  • 2006 Germany, electric locomotive ÖBB 1216 TAURUS 3 1216-050, 357 km / h
  • 2007 France, electric multiple unit, modified TGV-POS unit 4402, 574.8 km / h

Regular operation:

  • 1933 Deutsche Reichsbahn, diesel multiple unit “ Fliegender Hamburger ” 160 km / h
  • 1964 Japan , JNR, electric multiple unit " Shinkansen Series 0" 210 km / h
  • 1975 Japan , JNR, electric multiple unit "Shinkansen Series 100" 250 km / h
  • 1981 France , SNCF, electric multiple unit TGV Paris-Sud-Est, 270 km / h
  • 1989 France , SNCF, TGV Atlantique electric multiple unit, 300 km / h
  • 2000 Germany , DB, electric multiple unit ICE 3 , 330 km / h (permissible), 368 km / h (maximum)
  • 2007 (planned) Spain , RENFE, Velaro E electric multiple unit , 350 km / h

In April 2005 the Russian Railways (RŽD) and the German Siemens Transportation Systems (TS) signed a contract to develop high-speed trains for Russia. The supply contract with a project volume of up to 1.5 billion euros was signed in summer 2005. Russian Railways intends to order 60 of these trains with speeds of up to 300 km / h from Siemens. The trains are to be used primarily on the Moscow – Saint Petersburg and Saint Petersburg – Helsinki routes. Trains are also planned on the Omsk – Novosibirsk, Moscow – Nizhny Novgorod routes and others. The trains are to be manufactured mainly in Russia with the involvement of Russian suppliers and cooperation partners; the first train was delivered at the end of 2008.

Military importance

German troop transport 1914

After initial distrust, the military also became interested in the railroad. At the instigation of the Prussian generals, fortresses were built or expanded near the railway bridges over the major German rivers . This affected, for example, Dortmund and Wesel on the Rhine , Minden on the Weser , Magdeburg on the Elbe and Küstrin on the Oder . In a memorandum, the Prussian chief inspector Ernst Ludwig Aster wrote in 1844: “[...] that the direct approach of the railway to the fortress usually requires extremely disadvantageous structures such as dams, cuttings, gates and therefore, for reasons of national defense, the railway at least outside of the second fortress pale so that it should end at least 1,450 m in front of the fortress. "

During wars, the railroad was included in the military deployment plans. During the Crimean War , the need for a well-developed railway network for rapid replenishment became apparent for the first time. Because of the railways in Central Europe, which had already been very well developed by 1853, England was able to transport troops and ammunition to the Crimea much faster than its opponent Russia, who had tended to neglect railway construction up to that point. In 1866, troop transport by rail was not of any importance for any of the warring states, not even in the Battle of Königgrätz (see also German War ), but five years later the rail network and rolling stock were expanded to such an extent that the victory against France was achieved by the faster deployment of Prussian and their allied troops against France at the Battle of Sedan was possible.

In the American Civil War in particular , the superiority of the war party that owned the more modern route network was evident. While the north had already built up a dense system, the Confederates only had a wide-meshed and patchy railway network, which was also made up of different gauges. The Andrews robbery became famous , a sabotage act in which a group of Union soldiers took over the American locomotive in the station of Big Shanty near Atlanta on April 12, 1862. The military goal was to destroy the railway bridges on the Western and Atlantic Railroad in order to temporarily interrupt supplies for the besieged city of Chattanooga . After an eight-hour chase, the kidnappers were caught and the seven highest-ranking soldiers shot.

The strategic railways were a very special form of interaction between the military and the railroad . These were railway lines that were built mainly to meet military requirements. Such routes ran mostly far from any settlements and traffic flows and had the peace only a small utility. The Wutach Valley Railway in the southern Black Forest is a very clear example of the technical complexity of a strategic railway . In the high alpine mountains, on the other hand, entire sections of the route were expanded into fortifications , as happened, for example, on the Tendabahn between France and Italy in the Maritime Alps and on the Gotthard Railway .

In the First World War were hardened in a short time all the movements in the war of position , because the belligerent powers did not want to stray too far from the train stations as a safe positions or could: The time available road vehicles were only in exceptional cases and under immense efforts ( " Sacred Way " at Verdun ) is able to cope with the logistical demands of the material battles.

Based on the experiences of the First World War, the railroad was no longer to play such a fundamental role in German plans at the beginning of the Second World War . Motorized units were to carry the brunt of the attack and the transport of supplies . This concept worked in the first years of the war, but after the attack on the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, the railroad again had to bridge the increasing distances to the front. This was only possible with an unparalleled effort, for example over 6,300 of the class 52 war locomotives had to be built to meet the immense transport requirements. During this war, the German railroad drove trains crammed with people to the extermination camps . In the timetables, these trains were given their own symbol Dz , which was later interpreted as the David train . The transport of people to certain death is considered the darkest chapter in the history of the railroad .

For the US railways, World War II was the great highlight of their history. Since 1920, and increasingly since the Great Depression, many railway companies have faced economic problems due to increasing competition from the road. The order to transport ammunition and troops to the ports, but also the shortage of oil and the resulting restriction of mobility, led to enormous growth in the transport business.

After the Second World War, many railways began to hold steam locomotives as a strategic reserve. Finland, which gave up steam operations in 1975, kept around 250 steam locomotives for years, which should be used again in the event of an oil shortage or the destruction of power stations.


Until around 1850, railroad construction in Europe was almost entirely carried out on a private initiative. Only after a while did a rethink begin, as it proved to be disadvantageous for the overall economic development, in which the railways played a major part in the 19th century, to operate railroads exclusively from an entrepreneurial point of view.

In France , the state had raised six powerful monopoly companies through its railway policy, which knew how to make excellent use of their influential position vis-à-vis the changing ministries of the republic, but at the same time poorly served the traffic and prevented further expansion of the network by installing unprofitable branch lines. These circumstances gave the then Minister Charles de Freycinet the impetus to initiate a state railway policy in 1877 , which began with the purchase of a few thousand kilometers of ailing smaller railways and the drawing up of a plan for 16,000 km of new main lines and 40,000 km of branch lines. The implementation of this plan, which in a few years would have required a sum of 6½ billion francs, was confronted not only with financial obstacles but also with operational difficulties, since the numerous small lines built at the expense of the state are isolated within the larger private railway networks were. As a result, through a series of contracts with the six large companies in 1884, the execution of the railway lines foreseen in Freycinet's building plan was transferred to the existing companies with the financial participation of the state and with a simultaneous extension of the concessions granted to the companies for an average of 75 years. These contracts had postponed the realization of the state railway projects in the foreseeable future. It was not until January 1, 1938 that the long-planned nationalization was achieved through the merger of the large companies to form the SNCF .

During the expansion of the British long-distance rail network, competing companies built parallel routes for the same transport connections, which provoked deleterious competitions. After 1923, the island's railways were concentrated in four large companies:

In 1948 the railways were nationalized to British Railways, shortened to British Rail from the 1960s, and privatized again in 1997 with the creation of a large number of companies.

See also: Staatsbahn

International conventions

In the second half of the 19th century, the upswing in world traffic had led to the need to bring about uniform regulations on certain items of international rail traffic in a manner similar to that which already existed in the field of post and telegraphy. In the years 1878 and 1881, conferences of representatives of Germany, Austria-Hungary, France, Russia, Italy, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland took place in Bern to advise on international rail freight law. These resulted in drafts of an international agreement on freight transport by rail, along with implementing provisions and regulations relating to the establishment of an international central railway office. The provisions of the Convention, which were submitted to the governments of the individual states for further examination after the conclusion of the conference, generally followed the provisions of German rail freight law.

The Union Internationale des chemins de fer (UIC) was founded as a supranational association in Paris on October 21, 1922 . Since then, it has been tasked with standardizing the operating conditions of the railways.

See also

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


Web links

Commons : History of the Railroad  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Railway  Sources and Full Texts


  1. For further fatal accidents during the pioneering days of the railway, cf. the list of serious accidents in rail transport .

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g h Ralf Roman Rossberg: History of the Railway . 1999.
  2. Tear train Salzburg - the oldest, preserved funicular in Austria ( Memento from July 19, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  3. a b c Michael Geistbeck: Weltverkehr. The development of shipping, railways, post and telegraphy by the end of the 19th century. Freiburg im Breisgau 1895. Reprographic reprint Leipzig 1985, pp. 208ff.
  4. ^ Warren Allison, Samuel Murphy, Richard Smith: An Early Railway in the German Mines of Caldbeck. In: G. Boyes (Ed.): Early Railways 4th Papers from the 4th International Early Railways Conference 2008. Six Martlets, Sudbury 2010, pp. 52-69.
  5. Hans Müller: All about the railroad . 2nd Edition. Der Kinderbuchverlag, Berlin 1989, ISBN 3-358-00719-7 , p. 10 .
  6. Steamtown.Special History Study: AMERICAN STEAM LOCOMOTIVES ( Memento from May 15, 2014 in the web archive archive.today ) National Park Service, February 14, 2002.
  7. Meyers Konversationslexikon . 4th edition. tape 5 . Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig 1888, p. 428-447 ( MKL1888: Railway ).
  8. ^ Federal Statistical Office: Infrastructure and route length. Retrieved March 23, 2020 .
  9. Meyers Konversationslexikon . 4th edition. tape 5 . Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig 1888, p. 428-447 ( MKL1888: Railway ).
  10. ^ Oscar Zanetti Lecuona, Alejandro García Álvarez: Sugar & railroads: a Cuban history, 1837-1959. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC 1998, ISBN 0-8078-4692-9 . (Translation)
  11. History of the "Railway" of Paraguay, short form ( Memento from February 5, 2005 in the Internet Archive )
  12. ^ The first railroad in Argentina. In: Bohemia, Rincón de Arte, Buenos Aires. Retrieved October 9, 2012 .
  13. Dieter Höltge, Günter H. Köhler: Tram and light rail in Germany . 2nd Edition. 1: Hessen. EK-Verlag , Freiburg 1992, ISBN 3-88255-335-9 , p. 152 .
  14. s. wiktionary
  15. UIC website , accessed on July 2, 2019