Inventions and Discovery------------Rail Transport

Rail Transport

Including systems with man or horse power, and tracks or guides made of stone or wood, the history of rail transport dates to as early as Greek times.

A replica of Trevithick's engine at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea.

Wagonways were relatively common in Europe (typically in mining) from about 1500 through 1800. Mechanised rail transport systems first appeared in England in the 1820s. These systems, which made use of the steam locomotive, were critical to the Industrial revolution and to the development of export economies across the world. They have remained the primary form of land transport ever since for most of the world.

Wagonways and tramways

Reducing friction

Reducing friction was one of the major reasons for the success of railroads compared to wagons. This was demonstrated on an iron plate covered wooden tramway in 1805 at Croydon.

Horse-drawn railway coach, late 18th century.

    “ A good horse on an ordinary turnpike road can draw two thousand pounds, or one ton. A party of gentlemen were invited to look upon the experiment, that the superiority of the new road might be established by ocular demonstration. Twelve wagons were loaded with stones, till each wagon weighed three tons, and the wagons were fastened together. A horse was then attached, which drew the wagons with ease, six miles in two hours, having stopped four times, in order to show he had the power of starting, as well as drawing his great load.”

Earliest traces

The earliest evidence of a wagonway, a predecessor of the railway, found so far was the 6 to 8.5 km long Diolkos wagonway, which transported boats across the Isthmus of Corinth in Greece since around 600 BC.Wheeled vehicles pulled by men and animals ran in grooves in limestone, which provided the track element, preventing the wagons from leaving the intended route. The Diolkos was in use for over 650 years, until at least the 1st century AD.The first horse-drawn wagonways also appeared in ancient Greece, with others to be found on Malta and various parts of the Roman Empire, using cut-stone tracks. They fell into disuse as the Roman Empire collapsed.

The earliest known record of a railway in medieval Europe is a stained-glass window in the Minster of Freiburg im Breisgau dating from around 1350.
In 1515, Cardinal Matthäus Lang wrote a description of the Reisszug, a funicular railway at the Hohensalzburg Castle in Austria. The line originally used wooden rails and a hemp haulage rope, and was operated by human or animal power, through a treadwheel. The line still exists, albeit in updated form, and is probably the oldest railway still to operate.

Early wagonways

Minecart shown in De Re Metallica (1556). The guide pin fits in a groove between two wooden planks.

Wagonways (or 'tramways') are thought to have developed in Germany in the 1550s to facilitate the transport of ore tubs to and from mines, utilising primitive wooden rails. Such an operation was illustrated in 1556 by Georgius Agricola (Image right).These used "Hund" carts with unflanged wheels running on wooden planks and a vertical pin on the truck fitting into the gap between the planks, to keep it going the right way.Such a transport system was used by German miners at Caldbeck, Cumbria, perhaps from the 1560s.The first true railway is now suggested to have been a funicular railway made at Broseley in Shropshire at some time before 1605. This carried coal for James Clifford from his mines down to the river Severn to be loaded on to barges and carried to riverside towns.Though the first documentary record of this is later, its construction probably preceded the Wollaton Wagonway, completed in 1604, hitherto regarded as the earliest British installation. This ran from Strelley to Wollaton near Nottingham. Another early wagonway is noted onwards. Huntingdon Beaumont (who was concerned with mining at Strelley) also laid down broad wooden rails near Newcastle upon Tyne, on which a single horse could haul fifty to sixty bushels (130–150 kg) of coal.

By the 18th century, such wagonways and tramways existed in a number of areas. Ralph Allen, for example, constructed a tramway to transport stone from a local quarry to supply the needs of the builders of the Georgian terraces of Bath. The Battle of Prestonpans, in the Jacobite Rebellion, was fought astride a wagonway.This type of transport spread rapidly through the whole Tyneside coal-field, and the greatest number of lines were to be found in the coalfield near Newcastle upon Tyne. Their function in most cases was to facilitate the transport of coal in chaldron wagons from the coalpits to a staithe (a wooden pier) on the river bank, whence coal could be shipped to London by collier brigs. The wagonways were engineered so that trains of coal wagons could descend to the staithe by gravity, being braked by a brakesman who would "sprag" the wheels by jamming them. Wagonways on less steep gradients could be retarded by allowing the wheels to bind on curves. As the work became more wearing on the horses, a vehicle known as a dandy wagon was introduced, in which the horse could rest on downhill stretches.

Because a stiff wheel rolling on a rigid rail requires less energy per ton-mile moved than road transport (with a highly compliant wheel on an uneven surface), railroads are highly suitable for the movement of dense, bulk goods such as coal and other minerals. This was incentive to focus a great deal of inventiveness upon the possible configurations and shapes of wheels and rails. In the late 1760s, the Coalbrookdale Company began to fix plates of cast iron to the upper surface of the wooden rails. These (and earlier railways) had flanged wheels as on modern railways, but another system was introduced, in which unflanged wheels ran on L-shaped metal plates – these became known as plateways. John Curr, a Sheffield colliery manager, invented this flanged rail, though the exact date of this is disputed. The plate rail was taken up by Benjamin Outram for wagonways serving his canals, manufacturing them at his Butterley ironworks. Meanwhile William Jessop, a civil engineer, had used a form of edge rail successfully for an extension to the Charnwood Forest Canal at Nanpantan, Loughborough, Leicestershire in 1789. Jessop became a partner in the Butterley Company in 1790. The flanged wheel eventually proved its superiority due to its performance on curves, and the composite iron/wood rail was replaced by all-metal rail, with its vastly superior stiffness, durability, and safety.

Cast iron proved unsatisfactory because it was brittle and broke under heavy loads. Wrought iron (usually simply referred to as iron) was a ductile material that could undergo considerable deformation before breaking; however, methods for producing iron were expensive until Henry Cort patented the puddling process in 1784. Court also patented the rolling process in 1783, which was 15 times faster at consolidating and shaping iron than hammering.These processes greatly lowered the cost of producing iron and rails. The next important development in iron production was hot blast developed by James Beaumont Neilson (patented 1828), which considerably reduced the amount of coke (fuel) or charcoal to produce pig iron.
Wrought iron was a soft material that contained included slag or dross. The softness and dross tended to make iron rails distort and delaminate and they lasted less than 10 years. Sometimes they lasted as little as one year under high traffic.

The introduction of the Bessemer process, enabling steel to be made inexpensively, led to the era of great expansion of railways that began in the late 1860s. Steel rails lasted several times longer than iron.Steel rails made heaver locomotives possible, allowing for longer trains and improving the productivity of railroads.The Bessemer process introduced nitrogen into the steel, which made the steel become brittle with age. The open hearth furnace began to replace the Bessemer process near the end of 19th century, improving the quality of steel and further reducing cost.
Steam power introduced

James Watt, a Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer, was responsible for improvements to the steam engine of Thomas Newcomen, hitherto used to pump water out of mines. Watt developed a reciprocating engine, capable of powering a wheel. Although the Watt engine powered cotton mills and a variety of machinery, it was a large stationary engine. It could not be otherwise; the state of boiler technology necessitated the use of low pressure steam acting upon a vacuum in the cylinder, and this mode of operation needed a separate condenser and an air pump. Nevertheless, as the construction of boilers improved, he investigated the use of high pressure steam acting directly upon a piston. This raised the possibility of a smaller engine, that might be used to power a vehicle, and he actually patented a design for a steam locomotive in 1784. His employee William Murdoch produced a working model of a self-propelled steam carriage in that year.A replica of Trevithick's engine at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea

The first working model of a steam rail locomotive was designed and constructed by John Fitch in the United States in 1794.The first full scale working railway steam locomotive was built in the United Kingdom in 1804 by Richard Trevithick, an English engineer born in Cornwall. (The story goes that it was constructed to satisfy a bet by Samuel Homfray, the local iron master.) This used high pressure steam to drive the engine by one power stroke. (The transmission system employed a large flywheel to even out the action of the piston rod.) On 21 February 1804 the world's first railway journey took place as Trevithick's unnamed steam locomotive hauled a train along the tramway of the Penydarren ironworks, near Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales.Trevithick later demonstrated a locomotive operating upon a piece of circular rail track in Bloomsbury, London, the "Catch-Me-Who-Can", but never got beyond the experimental stage with railway locomotives, not least because his engines were too heavy for the cast-iron plateway track then in use. Despite his inventive talents, Richard Trevithick died in poverty, with his achievement being largely unrecognized.
The impact of the Napoleonic Wars resulted in (amongst other things) a dramatic rise in the price of fodder. This was the imperative that made the locomotive an economic proposition, if it could be perfected.

The first commercially successful steam locomotive was Matthew Murray's rack locomotive Salamanca built for the narrow gauge Middleton Railway in 1812. This twin cylinder locomotive was not heavy enough to break the edge-rails track, and solved the problem of adhesion by a cog-wheel utilising teeth cast on the side of one of the rails. It was the first rack railway.

This was followed in 1813 by the Puffing Billy built by Christopher Blackett and William Hedley for the Wylam Colliery Railway, the first successful locomotive running by adhesion only. This was accomplished by the distribution of weight by a number of wheels. Puffing Billy is now on display in the Science Museum in London, the oldest locomotive in existence.

In 1814 George Stephenson, inspired by the early locomotives of Trevithick, Murray and Hedley, persuaded the manager of the Killingworth colliery where he worked to allow him to build a steam-powered machine. He built the Blücher, one of the first successful flanged-wheel adhesion locomotives. Stephenson played a pivotal role in the development and widespread adoption of the steam locomotive. His designs considerably improved on the work of the earlier pioneers. In 1825 he built the Locomotion for the Stockton and Darlington Railway in the north east of England, which was the first public steam railway in the world. Such success led to Stephenson establishing his company as the pre-eminent builder of steam locomotives used on railways in the United Kingdom, United States and much of Europe.

Timeline of railway history

Ancient times

    c. 600 BC- A basic form of the railway, the rutway,- existed in ancient Greek and Roman times, the most important being the ship trackway Diolkos across the Isthmus of Corinth. Measuring between 6 and 8.5 km,remaining in regular and frequent service for at least 650 years,and being open to all on payment, it constituted even a public railway, a concept which according to Lewis did not recur until around 1800.The Diolkos was reportedly used until at least the middle of the 1st century AD, after which no more written references appear.

16th-18th century

    1550 - Hand propelled tubs known as "hunds" undoubtedly existed in the provinces surrounding/forming modern day Germany by the mid-16th century having been in proven use since the mid-15th century and possibly earlier. 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).

    1603/04 - 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. It was approximately two miles in length, running from mines at Strelley to Wollaton in Nottinghamshire, England. It is known as the Wollaton Wagonway. Beaumont built three further wagonways shortly after, near Blyth in Northumberland related to the coal and salt trade. Shortly after the Wollaton Wagonway was built other wagonways are recorded at Broseley near Coalbrookdale in Shropshire. Further wagonways emerged in the English North East.

    1758 - The Middleton Railway, the first railway to be granted powers by Act of Parliament, carried coal cheaply from the Middleton pits to Leeds. The line was privately financed and operated, initially as a waggonway using horse-drawn waggons. Around 1799 the wooden tracks began to be replaced with superior iron edge rails to a gauge of 4 ft 1 in (1,245 mm). In 1812 the Middleton Railway became the first commercial railway to successfully use steam locomotives : the Salamanca of John Blenkinsop.

    1789 - The Charnwood Forest Canal, sometimes known as the "Forest Line of the Leicester Navigation" has a railways to supplement the canal between Nanpantan and Loughborough, Leicestershire. William Jessop had realised a horse-drawn railway for coal wagons. He used successfully an iron edge-rail, in contrast to his partner Benjamin Outram, who, for other such lines, preferred the traditional iron "L" shaped flange-rail plateway.

    1798 - the Lake Lock Rail Road, arguably the world's first public railway, opened in 1798 to carry coal from the Outwood area to the Aire and Calder navigation at Lake Lock near Wakefield, West Yorkshire,on a distance of approximately 3 miles.The load of three waggons was hauled by one horse. The track used edge rails to a gauge of 3 ft 4 3⁄4 in (1,035 mm.). The line gradually declined and was closed in 1836.

19th century

1802 - The Carmarthenshire Tramroad, later the Llanelly and Mynydd Mawr Railway, located in south west Wales, was established by the Act of Parliament. This line was used for coal transportation. It was a plateway of about 4 foot gauge, and powered with a pair of horses.

 1802 - The four principal ironworks at Merthyr Tydfil : Dowlais, Plymouth, Cyfarthfa and Penydarren, output of these ironworks by packhorse. As they can not obtain a canal they build a line to Merthyr Tydfil to Abercynon, Wales : the Merthyr Tramroad. It was 9.5 miles long line. It was a single track plateway with a gauge of 4 ft 4 in over the flanges of the L shaped cast iron plate rails. The plates were 3 ft long. One horse pulled about five trams.

 1803 - The first public railway, the Surrey Iron Railway, London.It linked the towns of Wandsworth and Croydon via Mitcham on the south of the Thames. It was double track plateway throughout with a spacing of about 5 feet. The rails were of the Outram pattern are L-shaped in cross-section and 3 feet 2 inches long. The line was closed in 1846. A part of the route is now used by London Tramlink between Wimbledon and West Croydon.

1804 - First steam locomotive railway known as Penydarren or "Pen-y-Darren" locomotive was built by Richard Trevithick, used to haul iron from Merthyr Tydfil to Abercynon, Wales. The first train carry a load of 10 tons of iron. In one occasion it was successfully tried hauling 25 tons. But the weight of the locomotive was about 5 tons and broke many of the cast iron plate rails.

1807 - First fare-paying, passenger railway service in the world was established on the Oystermouth Railway in Swansea, Wales. Later this became known as the Swansea and Mumbles Railway although the railway was more affectionately known as "The Mumbles Train" (Welsh: Tren Bach I'r Mwmbwls). The railway was laid in the form of a plateway, with the rails being approximately 4 ft (1,219 mm) and used a horse-drawn vehicles. At the beginning the railway survived using various forms of traction until 1960.

1808 - The Kilmarnock and Troon Railway was the first railway in Scotland authorised by Act of Parliament. It was a plateway, using L-shaped iron plates as rails. In 1817 It was also the first in Scotland to use a steam locomotive. It was the Blücher from George Stephenson used at Killingworth Colliery. This locomotive could haul 30 tons of coal up a hill at 4 mph (6.4 km/h). It was used to tow coal wagons along the wagonway from Killingworth to Wallsend. It was withdrawn from service because of damage to the cast iron rails.

1808 - Richard Trevithick sets up a "steam circus" (a circular steam railway with locomotive Catch Me Who Can) in London for some months, for the public to experience for 1 shilling each.

1812 - First commercial use of steam locomotive on the Middleton Railway, Leeds. Matthew Murray of Fenton, Murray and Wood, in Holbeck, design a locomotive with a pinion which would mesh with it. Murray's design was based on Richard Trevithick's Catch me who can, adapted to use Blenkinsop's rack and pinion system, and probably was called Salamanca. It was the first locomotive to use two cylinders.

1813 - Wylam Waggonway to haul coal chaldron wagons from the mine at Wylam to the docks at Lemington-on-Tyne in Northumberland : steam locomotive Puffing Billy started commercial operation. Designer William Hedley, blacksmith Timothy Hackworth. Ran for 50 years hauling coal. Wylam is the birthplace of George Stephenson.

1814 - George Stephenson constructs his first locomotive, Blücher for the Killingworth wagonway. The locomotive was modelled on Matthew Murray’s. It could haul 30 tons of coal up a hill at 4 mph (6.4 km/h) but was too heavy to run on wooden rails or iron rails who existed in that time.

1825 - Stephenson's Stockton and Darlington Railway, the first publicly subscribed, adhesion worked railway using steam locomotives, carrying freight from a Colliery to a river port (Passengers were conveyed by horse-drawn carriages).

1826 January the first section of the Springwell Colliery Railway, latter to become known as the Bowes Railway opened, this was the first six miles of what would become a 15 mile railway, using a mix of locomotive and rope (cable) haulage. Part of the original line is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

1827 June 30 - The first railway in continental Europe opens in France between Saint-Etienne and Andrézieux (horse-drawn carriage). Some tests had been run since May 1, 1827. The official opening ceremony on October 1, 1828 never really took place, this date being in fact the first fiscal year of the railway company.

1828 July 4 - the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) begins construction of a track.The Charleston & Savannah commenced construction a few months later.

1829 - George and Robert Stephenson's locomotive, Rocket, sets a speed record of 47 km/h (29 mph) at the Rainhill Trials held near Liverpool.

1830 - The Canterbury and Whitstable Railway opens in Kent, England on 3 May, three months before the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. Engineered by George Stephenson, a 5¾ mile line running from Canterbury to the small port and fishing town of Whitstable, approximately 55 miles east of London. Traction was provided by three Stationary Winding Engines, and "Invicta"; Invicta was an 0-4-0 Loco, built by the Stevenson company, but only operated on a level section of track because she produced a meagre 9 hp.

1830 - The first railway in the United States[which?] opens with 23 miles of track, with mostly hardwood rail topped with iron. Over one hundred railroads are incorporated in New York alone. The Tom Thumb (locomotive) was designed and built by Peter Cooper for the B&O—the first American-built steam locomotive.

1830 - The Liverpool and Manchester Railway opens, and the first steam passenger service, primarily locomotive hauled, is started. The line proves the viability of rail transport, and large scale railway construction begins in Britain, and then spreads throughout the world. The Railway Age begins.

1830 - The first portion of the Saint-Étienne–Lyon railway is open between Givors and Rive-de-Gier on 1 July 1830. The rest of the line was opened on 1 October 1832 for passenger use only, freight being accepted a few months later. It use iron rails on dice stones. The line had 58 km long and an 375 meters elevation. There are 112 bridges and three tunels. The locomotives are based on George Stephenson Locomotion but with a tubular boiler which produces six times more power.

    1831 - First railway in Australia, for the Australian Agricultural Company, a cast iron fishbelly gravitational railway servicing the A Pit coal mine.
    1831 - First passenger season tickets issued on the Canterbury and Whitstable Railway.
    1832 - Railway switch patented by Charles Fox.
    1833 - The Great Western Railway Works, near Swindon, England are founded by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
    1834 - Ireland's first railway, the Dublin and Kingstown Railway (D&KR) opens between Dublin and Kingstown (now Dún Laoghaire), a distance of six miles.
    1835 - In Belgium a railway was opened on May 5 between Brussels and Mechelen : The line 25. In 1836 a second section between Mechelen and Antwerp was open. The line still exists. It is used by the high-speed train Paris - Amsterdam.
    1835, December 7 - Bavarian Ludwigsbahn, the first steam-powered German railway line, opened for public service between Nuremberg and Fürth.
    1836, July 21 - First public railway in Canada, the Champlain and St. Lawrence Railroad, opened in Quebec with a 16-mile run between La Prairie and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.
    1837 - The first Cuban railway line connected Havana with Bejucal. In 1838 the line reached Güines. This was also the first railway in Latin America and the Iberian world in general.
    1837 - Leipzig–Dresden Railway Company opened the first long-distance German railway line, connecting Leipzig with Althen near Wurzen. In 1839 the line reached Dresden.
    1837 - The first Austrian railway line connected Vienna with Wagram. In 1839 the line reached Brno.
    1837 - The first rail line in Russia connected Tsarskoye Selo and Saint Petersburg.
    1837 - The first line in Paris (Paris-Saint Germain Line)opened between Le Pecq near the former royal town of Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Embarcadère des Bâtignoles (later to become Gare Saint-Lazare). It is the first railway from Paris, but also the first of France designed solely for the carriage of passengers and operated with steam locomotives. It's still open to this day.
    1837 - Robert Davidson built the first electric locomotive
    1837 - First railway line in Cuba between Havana and Güines.
    1838 - Edmondson railway ticket introduced.
    1839 - The first railway in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, Italy, opened from Naples to Portici.
    1839 - The first rail line in the Netherlands connected Amsterdam and Haarlem.
    1844 - The first rail line in Congress Poland was built between Warsaw and Pruszków.
    1844 - The first Atmospheric Railway, the Dalkey Atmospheric Railway opened for passenger service between Kingstown & Dalkey in Ireland. The line was 3 km in length & operated for 10 years.
    1845 - The first railway line built in Jamaica opened on November 21. The line ran 15 miles from Kingston to Spanish Town. It was also the first rail line to be built in any of Britain's West Indies colonies. The Earl of Elgin, Jamaica's Governor presided over the opening ceremonies, by the late 1860s the line extended 105 miles to Montego Bay.
    1845 - Royal Commission on Railway Gauges to choose between Stephenson's gauge and Brunel's gauge.
    1846 - James McConnell met with George Stephenson and Archibald Slate at Bromsgrove. It was at this meeting that the idea of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers came about.
    1846 - The first railway line in Hungary, connects Pest and Vác
    1847 - First train in Switzerland, the Limmat, on the Spanisch-Brotli-Bahn Railway line.
    1848 - First railway line in Spain, built between Barcelona and Mataró.
    1848 - First railway in South America, British Guyana. The railway was designed, surveyed and built by the British-American architect and artist Frederick Catherwood. All the railway stations, bridges, stores and other facilities were constructed by John Bradshaw Sharples. Financing was provided by the Demerera Sugar Company who wished to transport their product to the dock of Georgetown. Construction was in sections with the first, from Georgetown to Plaisance, opening on 3 November 1848. The opening day's festivities featured the death of one of the railway's directors by being run over by the locomotive.
    1851 - First train in Chile from Caldera to Copiapó (80 km).
    1851 - First train in British India, built by British invention and administration.
    1851 - Moscow – Saint Petersburg Railway
    1852 - The first railway in Africa, in Alexandria, Egypt.
    1853 - Passenger train makes in début in Bombay, India.

The 1909 Map of Indian Railways, when India had the fourth largest railway network in the world.

   1853 - Indianapolis' Union Station, the first "union station", opened by the Terre Haute and Richmond Railroad, Madison and Indianapolis Railroad, and Bellefontaine Railroad in the United States.
    1854 - The first railway in Brazil, inaugurated by Pedro II of Brazil on April 30 in Rio de Janeiro, built by the Viscount of Maua.
    1854 - The first railway in Norway. Between Oslo and Eidsvoll.
    1854 - First steam drawn railway in Australia. Melbourne to Hobson's Bay, Victoria.
    1855 - The Panama Railway with over 50 miles (80 km) of track is completed after five years of work across the Isthmus of Panama at a cost of about $8,000,000 dollars and over 6,000 lives—the first 'transcontinental railway'.
    1856 - The first railway in Papal State, Italy, from Rome to Frascati.
    1856 - First railway completed in Portugal, linking Lisbon to Carregado.
    1857 - Steel rails first used in Britain.
    1857 - The first railway in Argentina, built by Ferrocarril del Oeste between Buenos Aires and Flores, a distance of 10 km, was opened to the public on August 30.
    1858 - Henri Giffard invented the injector for steam locomotives.
    1862 - The first railway in Finland, from Helsinki to Hämeenlinna.
    1862 - The Warsaw – Saint Petersburg Railway is opened.
    1863 - First underground railway, the 4-mile (6.4 km) Metropolitan Railway opened in London. It was powered by adapted steam engines (which condensed the steam to be let out only at particular places with air vents). Gave rise to entire new mode of subterranean urban transit: the Subway/U-Bahn/Metro.
    1863 - Scotsman Robert Francis Fairlie invents the Fairlie locomotive with pivoted driving bogies, allowing trains to negotiate tighter curves in the track. This innovation proves rare for steam locomotives but is the model for most future diesel and electric locomotives.
    1863 - First steam railway in New Zealand opens from Christchurch to Ferrymead.
    1865 - Pullman sleeping car introduced in the USA.
    1869 - The First Transcontinental Railroad (North America) completed across the United States from Omaha, Nebraska to Sacramento, California. Built by Central Pacific and Union Pacific.
    1869 - George Westinghouse establishes the Westinghouse Air Brake Company in the United States.
    1872 - The Midland Railway put in a third-class coach on its trains.
    1875 - Midland Railway introduces eight and twelve wheeled bogie coaches.
    1877 - Vacuum brakes are invented in the United States.
    1879 - First electric railway demonstrated at the Berlin Trades Fair.
    1881 - First public electric tram line, the Gross-Lichterfelde Tramway, opened in Berlin, Germany.
    1881 - One of the first railway lines in the Middle East was built between Tehran and Rayy in Iran.
    1882 - Lavatories introduced on Great Northern Railway coaches in Britain
    1882 - The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway connected Atchison, Kansas with the Southern Pacific Railroad at Deming, New Mexico, thus completing a second transcontinental railroad in the U.S..
    1883 - First electric tram line using electricity served from an overhead line, the Mödling and Hinterbrühl Tram opened in Austria.
    1883 - Southern Pacific Railroad linked New Orleans, Louisiana with Los Angeles, California thus completing the third U.S. transcontinental railroad.
    1883 - The Northern Pacific Railway,links Chicago, Illinois with Seattle, Washington—the fourth U.S. transcontinental railroad.
    1885 - The Canadian Pacific Railway is completed 5 years ahead of schedule, the longest single railway of its time, which links the eastern and western provinces of Canada.
    1888 - Frank Sprague installs the "trolleypole" trolley system in Richmond, Virginia, making it the first large scale electric street railway in the US, though the first commercial installation of an electric streetcar in the United States was built in 1884 in Cleveland, Ohio and operated for a period of one year by the East Cleveland Street Railway Company.
    1890 - First electric London Underground railway (subway) opened in London—all other subway systems soon followed suit.
    1891 - Construction begins on the 9,313 km (5,787 mi) long Trans-Siberian railway in Russia. Construction completed in 1904. Webb C. Ball establishes first Railway Watch official guidelines for Railroad chronometers.
    1893 - The first railway in Thailand between Bangkok to Samut Prakan was opened (13.05 mi). The Great Northern Railway linked St. Paul, Minnesota to Seattle—the fifth U. S. transcontinental railroad.
    1894 - Thailand's tram line using electricity served in Bangkok.
    1895 - Japan's first electrified railway opens in Kyoto.
    1895 - First mainline electrification on a four-mile stretch (Baltimore Belt Line) of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
    1899 - The first Korean railway line connects Noryangjin (Seoul) with Jemulpo (Incheon).
    1899 - Tokyo's first electric railway, the predecessor to Keihin Electric Express Railway opens.
   1899 - First use of three-phase alternating current in a mainline. The 40 km Burgdorf-Thun line opens in Switzerland.

First railway line by country in Europe.

20th century

    1913 - First diesel powered railcar enters service in Sweden.
    1915 - First major stretch of electrified railway in Sweden; Kiruna-Riksgränsen (Malmbanan).
    1917 - GE produced an experimental Diesel-electric locomotive using Lemp's control design—the first in the United States.
    1924 - First diesel-electric locomotive built in Soviet Union (USSR).
    1925 - Ingersoll-Rand with traction motors supplied by GE built a prototype Diesel switching locomotive (shunter), the AGEIR boxcabs.
    1926 - First diesel locomotive service introduced in Canada.
    1930 - GE begins producing diesel-electric switching engines.
    1934 - First diesel-powered streamlined passenger train in America (the Burlington Zephyr) introduced at the Chicago World's Fair.
    1935 - First children's railway is opened in Tbilisi, USSR.
    1937-41 - Magnetic levitation (maglev) train patents awarded in Germany to Hermann Kemper, with design propelled by linear motors.[13]
    1938 - In England, the world speed record for steam traction is set by the Mallard which reaches a speed of 203 km/h (126 mph).
    1939 - In Persia the Trans-Iranian Railway was opened, built entirely by local capital.
    1939 - Diesel-electric railroad locomotion entered the mainstream in the U.S. when the Burlington Railroad and Union Pacific start using diesel-electric "streamliners" to haul passengers.
    1942-45 - Over 117 steam locomotives worth over $2,624,182 ($1945) given to the Soviet Union under U.S. Lend Lease.[14]
    1946 - U.S. railroads begin rapidly replacing their rolling stock with diesel-electric units. Process not completed until the mid 1960s.
    1948, January 1 - British Railways formed by nationalising the assets of the 'Big Four' railway companies (GWR, LMS, LNER and SR).
    1948, March 1 - Foreign-owned railway companies nationalised in Argentina during the first term of office of President Peron.
    1953 - Japan sets narrow gauge world speed record of 145 km/h (90 mph) with Odakyū 3000 series SE Romancecar.
    1959, April - Construction of the first segment of the Tōkaidō Shinkansen between Tokyo and Osaka commenced.
    1960s-2000s (decade) - Many countries adopt high-speed rail in an attempt to make rail transport competitive with both road transport and air transport.
    1963, March 27 - Publication of The Reshaping of Britain's Railways (the Beeching Report). Generally known as the "Beeching axe", it led to the mass closure of 25% of route miles and 50% of stations during the decade following.
    1964 - Bullet Train service introduced in Japan, between Tokyo and Osaka. Trains average speeds of 160 km/h (100 mph) due to congested shared urban tracks, with top speeds of 210 km/h.
    1968 - British Rail ran its last final steam-driven mainline train, named the Fifteen Guinea Special, after of a programmed withdrawal of steam during 1962-68. It marked the end of 143 years of its public railway use. Thailand's tram line was stop serviced.
    1970, June 21 - Penn Central, the dominant railroad in the northeastern United States, became bankrupt (the largest US corporate bankruptcy up to that time). Created only two years earlier in 1968 from a merger of several other railroads, it marked the end of long-haul private-sector US passenger train services, and forced the creation of the government-owned Amtrak on May 1, 1971.
    1975, August 10 - British Rail's experimental tilting train, the Advanced Passenger Train (APT) achieved a new British speed record, the APT-E reaching 245 km/h (152.3 mph).[15] The prototype APT-P pushed the speed record further to 261 km/h (162.2 mph) in December 1979,[16] but when put into service on 7 December 1981, it failed and was withdrawn days later,[17] resuming only from 1980 to 1986 on the West Coast Main Line.
    1979 - High speed TGV trains introduced in France, TGV trains travelling at an average speed of 213 km/h (132 mph). and with a top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph).
    1987 - World speed record for a diesel locomotive set by British Rail's High Speed Train (HST), which reached a speed of 238 km/h (148 mph).
    1989 Cairo Underground Metro Line 1 is the first line of underground in Africa and Middle East Line length 44 kilometres (27 mi) with 34 stations Daily ridership 1 million passenger Operating speed 100 km/h (62 mph).
    1990 - World speed record for an electric train is set in France by a TGV, reaching a speed of 515 km/h (320 mph).
    1994-1997 - Privatisation of British Rail. Ownership of track and infrastructure passed to Railtrack on 1 April 1994 (replaced by Network Rail in 2002), with passenger operations franchised afterwards to 25 individual private-sector operators and freight services sold outright.

21st century

    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[18]
    2007 - High speed trains travelling at 350 km/h (217 mph) are introduced in Spain between Madrid and Barcelona..
    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 - Irelands 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).

Timeline of steam power

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Steam power developed slowly over a period of several hundred years, progressing through expensive and fairly limited devices in the early 17th century, to useful pumps for mining in 1700, and then to Watt's improved steam engine designs in the late 18th century. It is these later designs, introduced just when the need for practical power was growing due to the Industrial Revolution, that truly made steam power commonplace.

Development phases

Early examples

    1st century AD: Hero of Alexandria describes the aeolipile, as an example of the power of heated air or water. The device consists of a rotating ball spun by steam jets; it produced little power and had no practical application, but is nevertheless the first known device moved by steam pressure. He also describes a way transferring water from one vessel to another using pressure, filling a bucket the weight of which worked tackle to open temple doors, closed again by a deadweight once the water in the bucket had been drawn out by a vacuum caused by cooling of the initial vessel.
    1125: In Reims, according to William of Malmesbury, an organ was powered by heated water.
    1551: Taqi al-Din Muhammad ibn Ma'ruf describes a steam turbine-like device for rotating a spit.
    1601: Giovanni Battista della Porta performs experiments on using steam to create pressure or a vacuum, building simple fountains similar to a percolator.
    1606: Jerónimo de Ayanz y Beaumont receives a patent for a steam-powered device for pumping water out of mines.
    1615: Salomon de Caus, who had been an engineer and architect under Louis XIII, publishes a book showing a device similar to that of Porta.
    1629: Giovanni Branca suggests using a steam turbine device similar to that described by Taqi al-Din but intended to be used to power a series of pestles working in mortars.
    1630: David Ramsay is granted a patent for various steam applications, although no description is given and the patent also covers a number of unrelated inventions. He refers to a "fire engine", and this term is used for many years.

Towards a workable steam engine

    1663: Edward Somerset, 2nd Marquis of Worcester, publishes a selection of his inventions. One is a new sort of steam pump, essentially two devices like de Caus', but attached to a single boiler. A key invention is the addition of cooling around the containers to force the steam to condense. This produces a partial vacuum inside the chambers, which is used to draw a volume of water into the containers through a pipe, thus forming a pump. He builds one of very large size into the side of Raglan Castle, apparently the first "industrial scale" steam engine.He has plans to build them for mining, but dies before he can set up his company.
    1680: Christiaan Huygens publishes memoirs describing a gunpowder engine that drives a piston. It is historically notable as the first known description of a piston engine.
    1698: Thomas Savery introduces a steam pump he calls the Miner's Friend.It is almost certainly a direct copy of Somerset's design. One key improvement is added later, replacing the cold water flow on the outside of the cylinder with a spray directly inside it. A small number of his pumps are built, mostly experimental in nature, but like any system based on suction to lift the water, they have a maximum height of 32 feet (and typically much less). In order to be practical, his design can also use the pressure of additional steam to force the water out the top of the cylinder, allowing the pumps to be "stacked", but many mine owners were afraid of the risk of explosion and avoided this option. (Savery engines were re-introduced in the 1780s to recirculate water to water wheels driving textile mills, especially in periods of drought).

    1705: Thomas Newcomen develops the atmospheric engine, which, unlike the Savery pump, employs a piston in a cylinder; the vacuum pulling the piston down to the bottom of the cylinder when water is injected into it.The engine enabled a great increase in pumping height and the draining of deeper mines than possible when using vacuum to pull the water up. Savery holds a patent covering all imagined uses of steam power, so Newcomen and his partner John Calley persuade Savery to join forces with them to exploit their invention until the expiration of the patent in 1733.

    1707: Denis Papin publishes a study on steam power, including a number of ideas. One uses a Savery-like engine to lift water onto a water wheel for rotary power. The study also proposes replacing the water of a Savery engine with a piston, which is pulled on by the vacuum in a cylinder after steam inside is condensed, but he was unable to build the device.

    1718: Desaguliers introduces an improved version of the Savery engine, which includes safety valves and a two-way valve that operated both the steam and cold water (as opposed to two separate valves). It is not commercially employed.

    1720: Leupold designs an engine based on expansion, which he attributes to Papin, in which two cylinders alternately receive steam and then vent to the atmosphere. Although likely a useful design, it appears none were built.

The Newcomen Engine: Steam power in practice

    1712: Newcomen installs his first commercial engine.
    1713: Humphrey Potter, a boy charged with operating a Newcomen engine, installs a simple system to automatically open and close the operating valves. The engine can now be run at 15 strokes a minute with little work other than firing the boiler.
    1718: Henry Beighton introduces an improved and much more reliable version of Potter's operating system.
    1733: Newcomen's patent expires. By this time about 100 Newcomen engines have been built. Over the next 50 years engines are installed in collieries and metal mines all over England, notably in Cornwall, and are also used for municipal water supply and pumping water over water wheels, especially in ironworks.
    1755: Josiah Hornblower installs the first commercial Newcomen engine in the USA, at the Schuyler Copper Mine in what is now North Arlington in Bergen County, New Jersey, using parts imported from the UK.
    1769: John Smeaton experiments with Newcomen engines, and also starts building improved engines with much longer piston stroke than previous practice. Later engines, which marked probably the high point of Newcomen engine design, deliver up to 80 horsepower (around 60 kW).
    1775: By this date about 600 Newcomen engines erected in the UK.
    1779: The crank first applied by James Pickard to a Newcomen engine, producing rotary motion. Pickard patents this the following year, but the patent is unenforcable.
    1780–1800: Newcomen engines continue to be built in large numbers (about a thousand between 1775 and 1800), especially for mines but increasingly in mills and factories. Many have Watt condensers added after the patent expires (see below). Several dozen improved Savery engines are also built.

Watt's engine

    1765: James Watt invents the separate condenser, the key being to relocate the water jet, (which condenses the steam and creates the vacuum in the Newcomen engine) inside an additional cylindrical vessel of smaller size enclosed in a water bath; the still-warm condensate is then evacuated into a hot well by means of a suction pump allowing the preheated water to be returned to the boiler. This greatly increases thermal efficiency by ensuring that the main cylinder can be kept hot at all times, unlike in the Newcomen engines where the condensing water spray cooled the cylinder at each stroke. Watt also seals the top of the cylinder so that steam at a pressure marginally above that of the atmosphere can act on top of the piston against the vacuum created beneath it.
    1765: Matthew Boulton opens the Soho Manufactory engineering works in Handsworth.
    1765: Ivan Polzunov builds a two-cylinder Newcomen engine for powering mine ventilation in Barnaul, Russia. It includes an automated system for governing the water level in the boiler.
    1769: James Watt is granted a patent on his improved design. He is unable to find someone to accurately bore the cylinder and is forced to use a hammered iron cylinder. The engine performed poorly, due to the cylinder being out of round, allowing leakage past the piston. However, the increase in efficiency is enough for Watt and his partner Matthew Boulton to license the design based on the savings in coal per year, as opposed to a fixed fee. It would take Watt ten years in total to get an accurately bored cylinder.
    1774: John Wilkinson invents a boring machine capable of boring precise cylinders. The boring bar goes completely through the cylinder and is supported on both ends, unlike earlier cantilevered boring tools.[8] Boulton in 1776 writes that "Mr. Wilkinson has bored us several cylinders almost without error; that of 50 inches diameter, which we have put up at Tipton, does not err on the thickness of an old shilling in any part".
    1775: Watt and Boulton enter into a formal partnership. Watt's patent is extended by Act of Parliament for 25 years until 1800.
    1776: First commercial Boulton and Watt engine built. At this stage and until 1795 B&W only provided designs and plans, the most complicated engine parts, and support with on-site erection.
    1781: Jonathan Hornblower patents a two-cylinder "compound" engine, in which the steam pushes on one piston (as opposed to pulling via vacuum as in previous designs), and when it reaches the end of its stroke is transferred into a second cylinder that exhausts into a condenser as "normal". Hornblower's design is more efficient than Watt's single-acting designs, but similar enough to his double-acting system that Boulton and Watt are able to have the patent overturned by the courts in 1799.
    1782: First Watt rotative engine, driving a flywheel by means of the sun and planet gear rather than a crank, thus avoiding James Pickard's patent. Watt secures further patents in this year and 1784.
    1783: Watt builds his first "double acting" engine, which admits steam so as to alternately act on one side of the piston then on the other, and the introduction of his parallel motion linkage allows the transmission of the power of the piston motion to be transmitted to the beam on both strokes. This change enables use of a flywheel imparting steady rotary motion controlled by a governor, thus making it possible for the engine to drive machinery in non speed critical applications like milling, breweries and other manufacturing industries. Because the centrifugal governor alone had poor response to load changes, Watt's engine was not suitable for cotton spinning.
    1784: William Murdoch demonstrates a model steam carriage working on "strong steam". He is dissuaded from patenting his invention by his employer, James Watt.
    1788: Watt builds the first steam engine to use a centrifugal governor for the Boulton & Watt Soho factory.[9]
    1790: Nathan Read invented the tubular boiler and improved cylinder, devising the high-pressure steam engine.
    1791: William Bull makes a seemingly obvious design change by inverting the steam engine directly above the mine pumps, eliminating the large beam used since Newcomen's designs. About 10 of his engines are built in Cornwall.
    1799: Richard Trevithick builds his first high-pressure engine at Dolcoath tin mine in Cornwall.
    1800: Watt's patent expires. By this time about 450 Watt engines (totaling 7,500 hp) and over 1500 Newcomen engines have been built in the UK.

Improving power

    1801: Richard Trevithick builds and runs Camborne road engine.
    1801: Oliver Evans builds his first high-pressure steam engine in the U.S.(Ptd. 1804)                           1804: Richard Trevithick builds and runs single-cylinder flywheel locomotive on the 9-mile Pen-y-Darran tramway. Due to plate breakages the engine is installed at Dowlais for stationary use.
    1804: John Steel builds locomotive to Trevithick's model at Gateshead for Mr Smith. This is demonstrated to Christopher Blackett who refuses it for reasons of excess weight.
    1804: Arthur Woolf re-introduces Hornblower's double-cylinder designs now that Watt's patents have expired. He goes on to build a number of examples with up to nine cylinders as boiler pressures increase through better manufacturing and materials.
    1808: Christopher Blackett relays track at Wylam Colliery.
    1808: Richard Trevithick demonstrates the passenger carrying railway with his "steam circus" (using the locomotive Catch Me Who Can on a circular track) in London.
    1811: Blackett employs Thomas Waters to build a new flywheel locomotive.
    1811: Blackett instructs Timothy Hackworth to build hand-cranked chassis to prove feasibility of smooth rail for traction.
    1811: Second Wylam locomotive built by Blackett's development team consisting of Timothy Hackworth, William Hedley, and Jonathan Foster.
    1812: Blenkinsop develops rack railway system in collaboration with Matthew Murray of Leeds Round Foundry - single-flue boiler; vertical cylinders sunk into boiler.
    1813: Third Wylam locomotive built, with 8 wheels to spread axle load.
    1815: George Stephenson builds Blücher - similar to Blenkinsop model.
    1825: Robert Stephenson & Co build Locomotion for Stockton and Darlington Railway.
    1827: Timothy Hackworth builds highly efficient Royal George with centrally-placed blastpipe in the chimney for Stockton and Darlington Railway.
    1829: Robert Stephenson & Co successfully competes at Rainhill Trials with The Rocket against Hackworth's Sans Pareil and Braithwaite's and Ericsson's Novelty.
    1830: Stephensonian locomotive configuration appears with Stephenson's Planet type along with Edward Bury's Liverpool - horizontal cylinders placed beneath smokebox; drive to rear crank - bar frames. Liverpool Manchester Line opens with tumultuous acclaim
    1849: George Henry Corliss develops and markets the Corliss-type steam engine, a four-valve counterflow engine with separate steam admission and exhaust valves. Trip valve mechanisms provide sharp cutoff of steam during admission stroke. The governor is used to control the cut off instead of the throttle valve. The efficiency of Corliss engines greatly exceeds other engines of the period, and they are rapidly adopted in stationary service throughout industry. The Corliss engine has better response to changes in load and runs at a more constant speed, making it suitable for applications such as thread spinning.

    1854: John Ramsbottom publishes a report on his use of oversized split steel piston rings which maintain a seal by outward spring tension on the cylinder wall. This allows much better sealing (compared to earlier cotton seals) which leads to significantly higher system pressures before "blow-by" is experienced.

    1862: The Allen steam engine (later called Porter-Allen) is exhibited at the London Exhibition. It is precision engineered and balanced allowing it to operate at from three to five times the speed of other stationary engines. The short stroke and high speed minimize condensation in the cylinder, significantly improving efficiency. The high speed allows direct coupling or the use of reduced sized pulleys and belting.

    1862: The steam engine indicator is exhibited at the London Exhibition. Developed for Charles Porter by Charles Richard, the steam engine indicator traces on paper the pressure in the cylinder throughout the cycle, which can be used to spot various problems and to optimize efficiency. Earlier versions of the steam engine indicator were in use by 1851, though relatively unknown.

    1865: Auguste Mouchout invents the first device to convert solar energy into mechanical steam power, using a cauldron filled with water enclosed in glass, which would be put in the sun to boil the water.

    1867: Stephen Wilcox and his partner George Herman Babcock patent the "Babcock & Wilcox Non-Explosive Boiler", which uses water inside clusters of tubing to generate steam, typically with higher pressures and more efficiently than the typical "firetube" boilers of that time. Babcock and Wilcox-type boiler designs become popular in new installations.

    1881: Alexander C. Kirk designs the first practical triple expansion engine which was installed in SS Aberdeen.

    1897: Charles Algernon Parsons patented a steam turbine, which was used to power a ship. The turbine works like a multi-cylinder steam engine, but with any number of "cylinders" in series, built of simple bladed wheels. The efficiency of large steam turbines is considerably better than the best compound engines, while also being much simpler, more reliable, smaller and lighter all at the same time. Steam turbines have replaced piston engines for power generation almost universally since then.

    1897: Stanley Brothers begin selling lightweight steam cars, over 200 being made.

    1899: The Locomobile Company begins manufacture of the first production steam-powered cars, after purchasing manufacturing rights from the Stanley Brothers.

    1902: The Stanley Motor Carriage Company begins manufacture of the Stanley Steamer, the most popular production steam-powered car.

    1903: Commonwealth Edison Fisk Generating Station opens in Chicago, using 32 Babcock and Wilcox boilers driving several GE Curtis turbines, at 5000 and 9000 kilowatts each, the largest turbine-generators in the world at that time. Almost all electric power generation, from the time of the Fisk Station to the present, is based on steam driven turbine-generators.

    1913: Nikola Tesla patents a bladeless steam turbine that utilizes the boundary layer effect. This design has never been used commercially due to its low efficiency.

    1923: Alan Arnold Griffith publishes An Aerodynamic Theory of Turbine Design, describing a way to dramatically improve the efficiency of all turbines. In addition to making newer power plants more economical, it also provides enough efficiency to build a jet engine.

    1933: George and William Besler of the United States are the first aviators (and to this date only aviators) to successfully fly on steam power on April 12, 1933 with a converted Travel Air 2000 biplane, using a 90º V-twin compound engine of their own design.

    2009: On August 25, 2009, Team Inspiration of the British Steam Car Challenge broke the long-standing record for a steam vehicle set by a Stanley Steamer in 1906, setting a new speed record of 139.843 mph in the Edwards Air Force Base, in the Mojave Desert of California.

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