State railway

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A state railway or state railway is a state owned by a state that builds and operates railways . Occasionally, railway companies are also referred to as state railways that are only under the administration of one state.


Original meaning

Originally - in places still to this day - the term state railway refers to railways owned by local authorities , which are referred to as the state . The state often had only partial ownership of a railway. It often happened with the Prussian railways that he took over a small part of the shares, but in return was able to run the business entirely on his own. In this case, it is not entirely clear how far the definition of a “state railway” applies.

Since the names of the various hierarchical levels of a political system are quite different both regionally and temporally, according to this definition, the catchment area and the period of existence of the so-called railway company must be known in order to derive the ownership and thus the meaning of the railway from the term to be able to.

The official designation in the plural with " Staatseisenbahnen ", which was widespread in German states before the First World War , indicates that the railways administered by the state could often be a large number of separate railway companies that did not form a single whole, either technically or administratively. This was the case with many of the state railways in Prussia .

The highest administrative level of state railways in countries of the German Empire (the former " Länderbahnen ") could often be assigned to a ministry, so in the Grand Duchy of Baden this was initially the Foreign Ministry, in the Kingdom of Prussia, however, the "Ministry of Trade, Industry and Public Works", later the "Ministry of Public Works" which was spun off from it. As a hierarchical intermediate level, the latter had independent “Royal Railway Directorates” of a railway, to which later regionally defined responsibilities were transferred.

Modern meaning

Around the middle of the 20th century a change in meaning towards a more unambiguous definition took place. According to this, the term state railways - corresponding to the term national railways, which is occasionally found in translations  - explicitly denotes railways that are nationally owned, such as in the names " Canadian National Railway ", " Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane " and " Société nationale des chemins de fer français ”.

Railways owned by subordinate regional authorities in the German-speaking area are known as state railways ; in Germany, non-federally owned railways are predominantly used .


The state railways in Europe have a long tradition, but it was not until the 20th century that they were able to establish themselves across Europe in most countries. State railways were already being built in Belgium in 1835 .

The first state railway in Germany was the Duke Braunschweigische Staatseisenbahn , which opened on December 1, 1838 between Braunschweig and Wolfenbüttel . Most of the German states - such as Bavaria, Saxony, Hanover, Württemberg and Baden - also started building state railways early on. The largest German state, namely Prussia , initially built the Eastern Railway from 1851 onwards , but due to a lack of financial resources initially mainly relied on the construction of private railways. However, these were later largely bought up by the state and continued to operate as independent units. Most recently, the Prussian state railways were the largest in Europe .

In Austria, between 1884 and 1918, a large part of the railway lines were combined in the kk Austrian State Railways (kkStB).

In Switzerland, the state railway was only introduced in 1902, when many smaller private railways were combined in the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB). See also: Swiss National Railway

Since the end of the 20th century, the trend in Europe has been partially reversed: many state railways have been reprivatised , often due to pressure to liberalize the European Union and the opening of the rail transport markets. The Deutsche Bahn AG is operated according to a private sector, but is still a state railway, as the share capital is completely federally owned.

In the USA there is only one state railway besides Amtrak : the Alaska Railroad . The state of Canada is only the operator of VIA Rail Canada ; the former Canadian National Railway has now been privatized.

With 1.6 million employees is Indian State Railways Indian Railways the world's largest employers.

Selection of state railways

The following list contains railway companies that are fully owned by the respective state. The list does not claim to be complete.


country Surname Abbreviation / short form
AlbaniaAlbania Albania Hekurudha Shqiptare HSH
BelgiumBelgium Belgium Nationale Maatschappij der Belgische Spoorwegen
Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Belges
National Society of Belgian Railways
BulgariaBulgaria Bulgaria Balgarsky Darschawni
Zheleznitsi Български държавни железници
DenmarkDenmark Denmark Danske Statsbaner DSB
GermanyGermany Germany Deutsche Bahn DB
EstoniaEstonia Estonia Eesti Raudtee EVR
FinlandFinland Finland VR-Yhtymä VR
FranceFrance France Société nationale des chemins de fer français SNCF
GreeceGreece Greece Organismós Sidirodrómon Elládos
Οργανισμός Σιδηροδρόμων Ελλάδος
IrelandIreland Ireland Córas Iompair Éireann CIÉ
ItalyItaly Italy Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane FS
CroatiaCroatia Croatia Hrvatske željeznice
LatviaLatvia Latvia Latvijas dzelzceļš LDZ
LithuaniaLithuania Lithuania Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai LG
LuxembourgLuxembourg Luxembourg Chemins de Fer Luxembourgeois CFL
NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands Nederlandse Spoorwegen NS
Northern IrelandNorthern Ireland Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Railways NIR
NorwayNorway Norway Vy Vy
PolandPoland Poland Polskie Koleje Państwowe PKP
PortugalPortugal Portugal Comboios de Portugal CP
RomaniaRomania Romania Căile Ferate Române CFR
RussiaRussia Russia Rossiysky
zheleznye dorogi Российские железные дороги
SerbiaSerbia Serbia Železnice Srbije
Железнице Србије
SwedenSweden Sweden SJ AB SJ AB
AustriaAustria Austria Austrian Federal Railways ÖBB
AustriaAustria Austria / Hungary
Raab-Oedenburg-Ebenfurt Railway /
Győr-Sopron-Ebenfurti Vasút
SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland Swiss Federal Railways
Chemins de fer fédéraux suisses
Ferrovie federali svizzere
SlovakiaSlovakia Slovakia Železničná spoločnosť Slovensko ZSSK
SloveniaSlovenia Slovenia Slovenske železnice
SpainSpain Spain Red Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Españoles RENFE
Czech RepublicCzech Republic Czech Republic České dráhy CD
HungaryHungary Hungary Magyar Államvasutak MÁV
BelarusBelarus Belarus Belaruskaya chyhunka BTsch

North America

country Surname Abbreviation / short form
CanadaCanada Canada VIA Rail Canada VIA
El SalvadorEl Salvador El Salvador Ferrocarriles Nacionales de El Salvador FENADESAL
United StatesUnited States United States Amtrak -
United StatesUnited States United States Alaska Railroad ARR

South America

country Surname Abbreviation / short form
ChileChile Chile Empresa de los Ferrocarriles del Estado EFE
UruguayUruguay Uruguay Administración de Ferrocarriles del Estado AFE
VenezuelaVenezuela Venezuela Instituto de Ferrocarriles del Estado IFE

Australia and Oceania

country Surname Abbreviation / short form
New ZealandNew Zealand New Zealand New Zealand Railways NZRC


country Surname Abbreviation / short form
China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China China Railways
中国 铁路 (Zhōngguó Tiělù)
GeorgiaGeorgia Georgia Sakartwelos Rkinigsa
საქართველოს რკინიგზა
IndiaIndia India Indian Railways
भारतीय रेल (bhāratīya rel)
IsraelIsrael Israel Israel Railways
רכבת ישראל (Rakéwet Jisra'el)
CambodiaCambodia Cambodia Royal Railways Cambodia RRC
KazakhstanKazakhstan Kazakhstan Kazakhstan Temir Sholy
Қазақстан темір жолы
KyrgyzstanKyrgyzstan Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyz Temir Dscholu
Кыргыз Темир Жолу
MalaysiaMalaysia Malaysia Sabah State Railway SSR
MongoliaMongolia Mongolia Mongolyn Tömör Dsam
Монголын төмөр зам
NepalNepal Nepal Nepal Railways -
Korea NorthNorth Korea North Korea Chosŏn Minjujuŭi Inmin Konghwagukŭi Ch'ŏlto
조선 민주주의 인민 공화국 의 철도
PhilippinesPhilippines Philippines Philippine National Railways
Pambansang Daangbakal ng Pilipinas
IndonesiaIndonesia Indonesia PT.Kereta Api Indonesia
Perusahaan Kereta Api Indonesia
Korea SouthSouth Korea South Korea Korea Railroad Corporation
코레 일
TajikistanTajikistan Tajikistan Tajik Railways -
ThailandThailand Thailand Thai State Railway SRT
TurkeyTurkey Turkey Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Devlet Demiryolları TCDD
TurkmenistanTurkmenistan Turkmenistan Turkmen Railways
Türkmen Demir Yollary
UzbekistanUzbekistan Uzbekistan Oʻzbekiston Temir Yoʻllari OTY


country Surname Abbreviation / short form
EgyptEgypt Egypt Egyptian National Railways ENR
AlgeriaAlgeria Algeria Société nationale des transports ferroviaires algériens SNTF
BotswanaBotswana Botswana Botswana Railways BR
Congo Democratic RepublicDemocratic Republic of Congo Democratic Republic of Congo Société Commerciale des Transports et des Ports SCPT
Congo Democratic RepublicDemocratic Republic of Congo Democratic Republic of Congo Société Nationale des Chemins de fer du Congo SNCC
KenyaKenya Kenya Kenya Railways KR
MoroccoMorocco Morocco Office National des Chemins de Fer ONCF
MozambiqueMozambique Mozambique Caminhos de Ferro de Mozambique CFM
NamibiaNamibia Namibia TransNamib -
NigeriaNigeria Nigeria Nigerian Railway Corporation NRC
ZambiaZambia Zambia Zambia Railways ZR
ZambiaZambia Zambia / TanzaniaTanzaniaTanzania  Tanzania-Zambia Railway TAZARA
South AfricaSouth Africa South Africa Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa PRASA
South AfricaSouth Africa South Africa Transnet -
SwazilandSwaziland Swaziland Eswatini Railways -
TanzaniaTanzania Tanzania Tanzania Railways TRC
TunisiaTunisia Tunisia Société nationale des chemins de fer tunisiens SNCFT

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Staatsbahn  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations