Trains are perhaps the biggest hit of the industrial revolution in terms of transport, they changed everything about transport. Hundreds of years ago, travelling from town to town was a true adventure that took people sometimes days. Trains came in and opened a new world of travelling and economic development. They are widely used even nowadays, connecting the world on land. They have developed immensely over the years in order to satisfy the need of comfort and speed. Their history is extremely interesting and innovative.
The first train was built in 1804 and it was steam-powered. The ancestors of this train were horse driven carriages that had a capacity of about 20 people. They were largely used in the cities but were slow and produced a lot of waste. The first train was very controversial because people were afraid that the speed may leave them breathless or that the vibration of the train will cause internal damage. The average speed of this train was 10 miles per hour. After this first trip people were amazed by the travelling possibilities and comfort.
The first electric locomotive was built in Scotland in 1837 by chemist Robert Davidson. This was the first attempt to use the newly discovered source of power for transportation. Unfortunately, the life source of this battery was too short for commercial use so the innovation was left aside. In 1879, Werner von Siemens improved the life of the battery and the first electric locomotive was given for general use. The first railway to use this was near Berlin.
Diesel locomotives came into discussion at the end of the 19th century. Many engineers tried to develop a durable diesel locomotive but most of the attempts were unsuccessful due to the enormous weight of the locomotive and the high consumption. The breakthrough came in 1914 when Hermann Lemp managed to make a diesel-electric prototype that allowed a high speed and a decent consumption. Thanks to this cutting-edge technology diesel-electric locomotives came into use.
The peoples need for speed continued and this was reason for the invention of high-speed trains. The first one was used in Japan in 1964 and it was able to reach the speed of 300km/hour. This speed seemed impossible to reach less than one hundred years ago. The model was soon introduced in France, Germany and Switzerland. This model is the most successful one thanks to the speed. This allowed people to commute from distant cities in less than an hour and opened a new world of economic possibilities. The latest breakthrough is the magnetic railway that allows trains to reach speeds that exceed 500km/hour without the danger of jumping off the rails.
The history of trains is dotted with amazing innovations and breakthroughs that allowed the world we see today to be created. From weekend city-breaks to economic development, trains helped us develop at an amazing pace. They will remain a very important source of transport on land both for people and goods.