Timeline of rail transport
|Time period||Development summary|
|<18th century||People have to use their own strength, and the power of animals, wind and water when they want to build, move anything, or transport themselves and their goods.|
|18th century||The steam engine-burning fuel to produce heat energy is invented. By the end of the century, every mine in Great Britain already has its own simple railway network, with horses pulling carts from mines to factories.|
|19th century||Railroad Era. The railway transport takes off during the century, with the first lines built across Europe in the 1830s-1850s. However the second half of the century, local public transport is still primarily reliant on horses.|
|20th century||Diesel trains are introduced in the 1930s. These trains are faster, quieter and cleaner than steam trains, offering more comfortable rides. In the 1960s and early 1970s, a considerable interest is put on the possibility of building tracked passenger vehicles that could travel much faster than conventional trains. From the 1970s, interest in an alternative high-speed technology centers on magnetic levitation, or maglev, which rides on an air cushion created by the electromagnetic reaction between an onboard device and another embedded in its guideway.|
|Year||Event type||Details||Geographical location|
|600 B.C||The earliest form of "railroads" is developed by the Greeks, who make grooves in paved limestone roads so that they could use wheeled vehicles to ease transport of boats across the Isthmus of Corinth. However, with the fall of Greece to Rome in 146 B.C., these early railways would fall into ruin and disappear for over 1,400 years.|
|1515||Technology||Cardinal Matthäus Lang writes a description of the Reisszug, a funicular railway at the Hohensalzburg Castle in Austria.||Austria|
|1550s||Introduction||Germany begins installing roads of rails called wagonways to make it easier for horse-drawn wagons or carts to cross the countryside. These primitive railed roads consist of wooden rails over which horse-drawn wagons or carts move with greater ease than over dirt roads.|
|1725||Line||The Tanfield wagonway opens to connect the Durham coalfields to the River Tyne.||United Kingdom|
|1764||Introduction||The first railway in the United States is built in Lewiston, New York.||United States|
|1769-1774||Technology||Scottish inventor James Watt develops the stationary steam engine.||United Kingdom|
|1770s||Technology||Iron replaces the wood in the rails and wheels on the carts used on wagonways, which would then evolve into tramways that spread across Europe.|
|1784||Technology||English ironmaster Henry Cort patents the puddling process, making iron cheaper to produce.||United Kingdom|
|1787||Technology||John Curr, a Sheffield colliery manager, invents the L-section plate rail.||United Kingdom|
|1789||Technology||Englishman William Jessup designs the first wagons with flanged wheels, which have grooves that allow the wheels to better grip the rail and is an important design that carry over to later locomotives.||United Kingdom|
|1803||Samuel Homfray decides to fund the development of a steam-powered vehicle to replace the horse-drawn carts on the tramways.|
|1803||Introduction||English civil engineer William Jessop opens the world's first public goods railway line, from Croydon to the River Thames at Wandsworth.||United Kingdom|
|1804||Technology||British engineer Richard Trevithick successfully tests the first steam-powered locomotive to ride on rails. At seven tons, however, the locomotive is so heavy it would break its own rails.||United Kingdom|
|1809||Introduction||The first railroad track in the United States is built in Chester County, Pennsylvania. The track is an experimental project, only 60 yards long.||United States|
|1811||Technology||John Blenkinsop invents a steam engine which has cogs on one of its wheels.|
|1813||William Hedley builds his "Puffing Billy" to pull coal wagons at the Wylam Colliery in Northumberland. The transport is so reliable that it is used for fifty years.|
|1814||Technology||British engineer George Stephenson builds the very first steam engine for the locomotive.||United Kingdom|
|1820||John Birkinshaw invents wrought iron, a more durable material than cast iron. Wrought iron would then be used for rail systems until the advent of the Bessemer process.|
|1821||Englishman Julius Griffiths was the first person to patent a passenger road locomotive.|
|1825||The Stockton to Darlington rail line opens. Two locomotives are used (the "Experiment" and "No 1"), being able to pull 21 coal wagon 25 miles at 8 miles per hour. In many senses, 1825 is seen as the start of the age of the railways.||United Kingdom|
|1825-1830||Commercial appearance of train networks come late in the decade, with English inventor George Stephenson as pioneer in the field.|
|1825-1835||The British Parliament agrees to the building of 54 new rail lines.||United Kingdom|
|1826||Colonel John Stevens -who is considered to be the father of railroads in the United States, demonstrates the feasibility of steam locomotion on a circular experimental track constructed on his estate in Hoboken, New Jersey. This happens three years before Stephenson perfected a practical steam locomotive in England.||United States|
|1828||Introduction||The first railway appears in France.||France|
|1829||The Rainhill trials take place. The "Rocket" built by George Stephenson becomes the winner of a £500 prize, after attaining about 30mph.||United Kingdom|
|1830||Introduction||The Liverpool to Manchester railway opens.|
|1833||Steam trains start operating on the line for passengers.|
|1835||Introduction||The first steam hauled railway in Germany, the Ludwigs-Eisenbahn, opens between Nürnberg and Fürth, with a lenght of 6km.||Germany|
|1835||Introduction||The first railway line openes in Belgium between Brussels and Mechelen.||Belgium|
|1837||Introduction||The first Cuban railway line opens, prior to Spain. The first line connects Havana with Bejucal.||Cuba|
|1837||Introduction||The first train in India runs from Red Hills, Chennai to Chintadripet bridge in Madras.||India|
|1838||Line||Robert Stephenson, the son of George Stephenson, completes the London to Birmingham rail line.|
|1839||Introduction||The first railway line in Italy opens.||Italy|
|1841||Isambard Kingdom Brunel completes hos London to Bristol line - the Great Western Railway. This is considered such a stunning achievement that people use the rail line's initials (GWT) to call it "God's Womderful Railway".||United Kingdom|
|1842||Introduction||The first railway system in France opens.||France|
|1851||Introduction||The first long distance railway line in Russia opens connecting Moscow with Saint Petersburg.||Russia|
|1852||Introduction||The first railway in Africa opens, in Alexandria, Egypt.||Egypt|
|1856||Englishman Henry Bessemer, who took out a patent on the later called Bessemer process, which would further enable cheaper production of steel in the late 1860s, sparking the rapid expansion of railways across America and other countries around the world.||United Kingdom|
|1863||Line||The first section of the "London Underground" begins its work.||United Kingdom|
|1863||Introduction||The construction of the first transcontinental railroad in the United States begins.||United States|
|1866||Scientific development||German industrialist Werner von Siemens discovers the dynamo-electric principle.||Germany|
|1872||Introduction||The first railway line in Japan opens between Yokohama and Tokyo.||Japan|
|1879||Technology||Werner von Siemens demonstrates an electric railway with external power source at the Berlin Commercial Exposition.||Germany|
|1881||Technology||The world's first electric tram line, Gross-Lichterfelde Tramway, openes in Lichterfelde near Berlin, Germany. It is built by Siemens.||Germany|
|1883||Line||British electrical engineer Magnus Volk opens the Volk's Electric Railway in Brighton, England.||United Kingdom|
|1890||Technology||The entire London train fleet starts using electrical engines. This marks the beginning of the new era of urban rapid transit systems.||United Kingdom|
|1890s||Steam powered passenger trains in England carry people living in the country to cities for work and for pleasure. City people travel by train to the countryside or the seaside. On some trains there are carriages with bedrooms, called sleeping cars, and restaurants and bathrooms have been added.||United Kingdom|
|1891||Line||Construction of the Trans-Siberian railway begins.||Russia|
|1892||Technology||The diesel engine is invented by German engineer, Rudolf Diesel.||Germany|
|1893||General Electric produces the first electric locomotive.||United States|
|1895||Technology||Japan's first electrified railway starts operation.||Japan|
|1901||Introduction||The first electric monorail is built in Germany and is still running. It hangs from an overhead track.||Germany|
|1917||Technology||General Electric produces an experimental Diesel-electric locomotive using Lemp's control design, the first in the United States.||United States|
|1924||Introduction||The first mainline diesel-electric locomotive is built in the Soviet Union.||Soviet Union|
|1964||Technology||Japan's Shinkansen high-speed train, often called 'bullet train', becomes the first high speed train in service.||Japan|
|1970-1975||Light rail vehicles come into use. These would replace trains in some places.|
|1981||Line||The French government puts one of the fastest trains in the world into service: the TGV (Train a grande vitesse) between Paris and Lyon.||France|
|1997||Technology||The first Maglev train prototypes are tested in Japan.||Japan|
|2004||Line||The Shanghai Transrapid Line in China becomes the first commercial high-speed maglev train line to run.||China|
|2010||The Shanghai's subway system becomes the largest in the world.||China|
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