Fifty Railways That Changed the Course of History

Fifty Railways That Changed the Course of History

Hardback

By (author) Bill Laws

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  • Publisher: DAVID & CHARLES
  • Format: Hardback | 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 170mm x 227mm x 23mm | 700g
  • Publication date: 26 July 2013
  • Publication City/Country: Newton Abbot
  • ISBN 10: 1446302903
  • ISBN 13: 9781446302903
  • Sales rank: 24,590

Product description

* Fifty Railways that Changed the Course of History is a fascinating and beautifully presented guide to the train lines and rail companies that have had the greatest impact on modern civilization. * Entries range from the Metropolitan Line of the London Underground, the world's first underground railway, to the Pacific Railroad, the first transcontinental railroad in North America. * In order to justify the assertion that they literally 'changed the course of history,' each railway is judged by its influence in five categories: Engineering, Society, commerce, Politics, and Military.

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Author information

Bill Laws is a homes, gardens and landscapes writer for the BBC, Guardian and Telegraph newspapers and his work is soon to be published by National Geographic.

Table of contents

1. Rochester to London, England, 75. Caesar's troops adopt Grecian measurements for grooved roads in their latest colony, Insula Albionum, Great Britain. George Stephenson adapts them for standard gauge, now used by sixty percent of the world's railroads. 2. Swansea and Mumbles, Wales, 1807. Carriages on the world's first recognised passenger rail service are drawn by horse and sail. 3. Glasgow, James Watt (1736 - 1819) and Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot (1725-1804). Between them the two men devised the necessary elements for Richard Trevithick to develop his steam engine. 4. Circular track, London, England, 1804. Richard Trevithick's steam engine, Catch Me If You Can, carries passengers round a circular track in London. 5. Stockton and Darlington, England, 1825. Opened by George Stephenson, it becomes the world's first publically subscribed railway. But it was a visionary land surveyor, William James, and not Stephenson who would be called the father of the railways. 6. Charleston to Hamburg, South Carolina, America, 1830. The first successful steam locomotive line opened with the steam train, the Best Friend of Charleston. Oliver Evans in 1812 imagines a national railroad network. 7. Semmering, Austria, 1854. Regarded as the world's first mountain railroad, it would be followed by increasingly hazardous rail ascents such as Mount Washington (1869), Mount Rigi, Italy (1873) and Snowdon, Wales (1896). 8. London to Birmingham, England, 1838. The start of England's rail network led to the synchronising of railway clocks. Coping with timekeeping where railroads ran across timelines had its own challenges. 9. Philadelphia to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, America, 1838. Mail contracts killed the pony express and mail coach and revolutionized the postal service. In England W. H. Auden and Benjamin Britten contribute to the London Midlands Service's 1936 film starring music, Night Mail. 10. Nuremburg to Furth, Germany, 1835. The first steam-driven railway opens in Germany and leads to the creation of Germany's first long distance railroad line. 11. Union Pacific and Central Pacific, America, 1869. A golden spike ceremonially driven into the tracks marked the last railroad link between the American east and west. 12. Midland Railway, England, 1844. Entrepreneur George Hudson becomes the first railroad rogue, ruining hundreds of investors during Britain's rail mania. 13. Lancaster and Carlisle, England, 1846. Carnforth Station on the L & C Line became the setting for the 1943 film Brief Encounters, with music by Rachmaninoff and based on a Noel Coward play about a chance meeting at 'Milford Junction'. Rail encounters continued to inspire film makers. 14. Metropolitan Line, England, 1863. An underground rail route between Paddington and Farringdon Street, London, paves the way for a host of city railroads from New York, Shanghai and Tokyo, to Moscow, Seoul and Paris. 15. London and North Western, England, 1850. The opening of the steam line between Aberdeen and Billingsgate Fish Market in London contributed to the depletion of stocks of the 'silver darlings', herring. Britain was not the only country where an efficient railroad caused species decline. 16. Northern Railroad New York, America, 1851. The first refrigerated box or cattle car used on the American railway was not a success. However Gustavus Franklin Swift (1839-1903) introduced the design that herald the age of cheap beef. 17. Liverpool and Manchester, England, 1830. William Huskisson, MP died after being hit by a train, the Rocket. On the Great Western Railway in 1841 a group of passengers, builders working on the House of Parliament, were killed when the train ran into a landslide. These accidents were nothing compared to the damage wrought by the 2004 Sri Lanka tsunami when the Queen of the Sea railroad lost more than 1,700 on a single journey. Rail safety is on the decline and not just due to natural disasters. 18. Washing and Springfield, America, 1865. George Pullman special carriage carried the body of President Abraham Lincoln to its final resting place. Pullman became the chief employer of African Americans after the Civil War, using former slaves to staff his Pullman service. 19. Melbourne and Hobson's Bay Railway Company, Australia, 1854. Beaten into the record books by Chicago Union's Chicago to Galena commuter rail in 1848, the Flinders Street to Port Melbourne rail was one of the early commuter rails and Australia's first line. The opening of rail links between city centres and the outskirts has culminated in France's 'TGV commuter belts' over a hundred miles distant. 20. Grand Truck Pacific, Canada, 1914. So many towns in Western Canada were created by the railroad that the company took to systematically naming them in alphabetical order. The impact of the Canadian Pacific Railway with features such as its 'school trains', had a powerful effect on some of the nation's remotest regions. Railway towns from Wolverton, Crewe and Swindon in the UK to Baldwin, Philadelphia, Meiningen Germany and Nassjo in Sweden. 21. Windsor Hotel, Montreal, 1878. The Windsor was the first of Canada railroad's grand hotels. The rise and fall of the railway hotel. 22. Milano Centrale, Rome, Italy. The development of the railroad station from New York's Grand Central to the Gare de Lyon in Paris and St Pancras', London in the days when rail companies and governments vied to build bigger and better. 23. East India Railways, India, 1854. The East India opened up northern and eastern India from Calcutta to, eventually, Delhi with stock, rails and sleepers. Everything was transported by sailing ship from Britain. 24. Shanghai to Woosung, China, 1876. At the start of the annual holidays or Golden Weeks, over 6.5 million take to China's trains. The nine mile line, China's first, was shut down within a year, but the country eventually developed the world's third largest rail network. 25. The Tay Bridge Disaster. North British Railways, 1890. The failure of the bridge across the Firth of Forth signalled a new approach to bridge building, reflected in the grandeur of the world's largest long bridge, the Sydney Harbour Bridge. 26. London Midland, England. The railway was the first to produce a timetable before George Bradshaw (1801-53) established his famous railway timetables. 27. Baltimore Ohio Railroad, America, 1895. The railroad started the first electric locomotive service with an engine developed by Werner von Siemens. Eighty years on and the Trans Europ Express system, linking all major cities with electric trains reached the height of its popularity. 28. Great Eastern Railway, Holland, 1862. In 1913 Rudolph Diesel, eponymous inventor of the successor to the steam train dies under mysterious circumstances on the Antwerp to London on the boat train, SS Dresden. 29. Trans Siberian Railroad, Russia, 1905. Connecting Moscow to the Sea of Japan the world's longest railway contributed to Russia's defeat by the Japanese in 1905. 30. Baghdad Railway, 1903 to 1940. The contentious rail route from Berlin to Baghdad, which came under attack from T.E. Lawrence's Arab guerrillas was both blamed for contributing to the start of the First World War. 31. Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railway, America, 1860s. The first armoured trains appeared during the American Civil War. By the close of the nineteenth century they were being employed in the Boer War: war reporter Winston Churchill was captured by the Boers on such a train in 1899. 32. Ambulance trains, France, 1914. The two world wars signalled a peak in rail traffic with the movement of munitions and armies. They also saw the introduction of travelling hospitals. 33. The Trans-Australian Railway, Australia, 1917. With its Tea and Sugar train, the Trans finally connected Perth with the rest of the continent, despite Australia adopting three different gauges. 34. Kalka Shimla Railway, India, 1903. The railroad that passed through some of India's most dramatic scenery connected Kalka and the rest of the Indian railway system with what was to become the headquarters of the British Army in India. It would play a pivotal role during the Second World War. 35. Burma Railway, Burma, 1943. The railroad is christened the Death Railway after more than 100,000 forced labourers die during its construction. 36. Tokyo to Shimonoseki, Japan, 1940. The Shinkansen or bullet train began its developmental history in wartime Japan. It went on to break world records. 37. Leipzig to Dresden, Germany, 1839. The old line facilitated the Third Reich's plan to liquidate those regarded as enemies of the state. The Reichsbahn, or National Railways, recorded and charged each and every passenger journey to the gas chambers. 38. Ferrocarriles Argentinos, Argentina, 1945. Redundant narrow gauge track and rolling stock from the First World War was used to build the Trochita ("The Little Narrow Gauge"), later made famous as the Old Patagonia Express. 39. Settle and Carlisle, 1960s. It was billed as Britain's most scenic route, but until the late 1960s and a controversial minister called Doctor Beeching, it had plenty of attractive rivals. 40. Birmingham Airport to Birmingham Station, 1984. The first 'Maglev" monorail opened at Birmingham, England to be followed by similar systems in Japan, Germany and Vancouver, Canada. 41. Channel Tunnel, 1990. The French and British buried their differences and the hole-boring machines that drilled out the Tunnel (it was too large to extract) when the two countries were linked by the Chunnel. It's status as the world's longest rail tunnel is challenged by plans to link Russia and the US under the Bering Sea. 42. Alcala de Henares, Spain, 2004. The simultaneous bombing of four trains on Madrid's commuter network marked a weather change in terrorism . It was not the first such atrocity, nor would it be the last. 43. Cape to Cairo, Africa, uncompleted. Cecil Rhodes' vision of a railroad that would link Africa from north to south and bring political stability to the continent was only a partial success. 44. London North Eastern, England, 1923. The Flying Scotsman, operating on the London to Edinburgh line, captured the popular imagination as it raced into the record books. Engines have been racing to their destination ever since the Rocket won the Rainhill Race in 1829. 45. Leicester to Loughborough, England, 1841. An entrepreneurial Baptist, Thomas Cook, chartered a train to carry 500 Temperance supporters to a rally. He went on to found a tourist agency that spanned the international railroad network. 46. Orient Express, France, 1883. The route from Paris to Istanbul became the iconic journey for romantic rail routes that ranged from Italy's Bernina Express and the modern Danube Express to Amtrak's Cascades between Oregon and Vancouver. 47. California Zephyr, America, 1949. The rise and fall of this famous rail route was to be rescued by the founding of America's national rail body, Amtrack. Its early days, with Richard Nixon in the White House, were caught up in controversy. 48. Tayllyn Railway, Wales, 1950. In 1950 a group of volunteers rescued the narrow gauge Welsh slate route and opened it as a heritage railway. Their endeavours would inspire rail rescues worldwide including Australia's Puffing Billy, the UK's Bluebell Line and New Zealand's Glenbrook Vintage Railway. 49. North Borneo Railway, Borneo, 1905. Built with foreign labour to carry tobacco from the interior the railroad, in 2012, was revived as an environmentally friendly tourist attraction. The development of railroads as sustainable transport systems. 50. Great Western Railway, England, 1930s. Railroads have inspired artists, writers and musicians, from Rev. W. W Awdry in his home beside the Great Western Line to E. F. Nesbit's the Railway Children.