Trains & Railroads
from Engine to Caboose
Train, in reference to a railroad or railway, means to draw or drag. Railway or railroad is defined as a bar or beam (rail) to ride. Fairly accurate, I think. 😀
I’ve always liked trains. As a child I had a Lionel train set and always looked for the trains as we passed crossings when traveling.
A railway is a type of transport using wheeled vehicles on rail tracks. They are called Railways, Railroads, Rail transports and other names in other languages. You might also hear them referred to as trains or train transports.
In most countries the railroad played an important part in history. Railways changed many societies in numerous and complex ways.
The building of railways and locomotives required large quantities of materials such as iron and coal. This was a large boost for coal-mining and iron-production industries. In turn, there was an increased need for engineering and construction industries to build the railroads.
Railroads also transformed the distribution of perishable goods such as meat, milk, fish and vegetables. The reduction in transportation time and costs accomplished by the railways allowed cheaper produce in the shops and far greater variety in people’s diets.
Personal mobility was another area where the railways were a significant force for social change. Originally conceived as a way of moving coal and industrial goods, the railway operators quickly realized the potential for railway travel. This lead to an extremely rapid expansion in passenger services and ultimately helped in the settling of many countries.
The rutway was a basic form of the railway. It involved groves, or ruts, carved in limestone or other rock/ground in which a wheeled cart could move. The ruts provided steering and were comparable to railroad tracks. The earliest evidence of a rutway (railway) was the 6-kilometre (3.7 mi) Diolkos wagonway, which transported boats across the Corinth Isthmus in Greece during the 6th century BC. Trucks pushed by slaves ran in grooves in limestone, which provided the track element. The Diolkos ran for over 600 years.
Having been in proven use since the mid-15th century and possibly earlier, hand propelled tubs known as “hunds” probably existed in the provinces surrounding and forming modern-day Germany This technology was brought to the UK by German miners working in the Mines Royal at various sites in the English Lake District near Keswick (Now in Cumbria).
Somewhere between October 1603 and the end of September 1604, Huntingdon Beaumont, partner of the landowner; Sir Percival Willoughby, built the first recorded above ground early railway/wagonway running from mines at Strelley to Wollaton in Nottinghamshire, England. It is known as the Wollaton Wagonway.
In 1798 the Lake Lock Rail Road, arguably the world’s first public railway, opened to carry coal from the Outwood area to the Aire and Calder navigation at Lake Lock. The track used edge rails to a gauge of 3 ft 4 3⁄4 in (1,035 mm) and the wagons were pulled by horse.
The first steam locomotive railway – Penydarren – built by Richard Trevithick in 1804, was used to haul iron from Merthyr Tydfil to Abercynon, Wales. Followed in 1807 with the first paying passenger railway service in the world – the Oystermouth Railway (later: Swansea and Mumbles Railway) – in Swansea, Wales.
With the advent of steam locomotives came great strides in railways. In 1808 the Kilmarnock and Troon Railway was the first railway in Scotland authorised to use a steam locomotive. In 1808 Richard Trevithick sets up a “steam circus” (a circular steam railway with locomotive Catch Me Who Can) in London. Then, in 1813, the Wylam Waggonway steam loco “Puffing Billy” started commercial operation and ran for 50 years hauling coal.
Time and technology march onward and in the 20th century, diesel makes its appearance with the first diesel-powered railcar entering service in 1913 Sweden. Followed in 1915 by the first major stretch of electrified railway, also in Sweden. And thus begins the love affair with the railroad. From 1913 thru 1997 into the 21 century the railroad has survived.
- 2000 – Amtrak introduces the Acela Express on the Northeast Corridor in the United States.
- 2001 August – Northeast China first electrified railway opens for business between Shenyang and Harbin.
- 2007 – High speed trains travelling at 350 km/h (217 mph) are introduced in Spain.
- 2007 – Heavily modified trainset of France’s TGV had beaten its original world record when it travelled from Metz- Reims at a speed of 574.8 kilometres per hour (357.2 mph).
- 2008 – Ireland’s first Intercity DMU enters service excluding the 29000 class running on the Sligo line.
- 2010 – Shanghai Metro overtakes London Underground as the world’s largest urban transit system (now serving: 420 km (260 mi) with 278 stations (235 not including stations served more than once)
Other places and informational links for Trains & Railroads:
The history of Railroads, or Railways varies from country to country. Each country had its own unique history of rail transport and development of their railways. By visiting museums and other attractions related to railroad history in a given country, you can learn about this uniqueness of development. There are also web sites that provide information on the history and development of railroads by country. Here are a few links that might help you.
Rail travel can be as simple as buying a ticket or complicated as planning an excursion. Some trains offer commuter service to take you from one place of interest to another (or to work and back). Other trains offer rides of scenic and/or historical interest. All can be fun and should be planned out ahead of time to be sure things go smoothly. Trains operate on schedules and won’t wait for you if you are late.
What is a “rail excursion train?
An excursion train is a chartered train run for a special event or purpose. Examples of excursion trains are: a train to a major sporting event; a train run for railfans or tourism; a chartered train; a special train operated by the railway for employees and prominent customers.
If you plan to travel by Train/Railroad, and/or are planning a rail excursion, here are some links that might help.