The History of Railway Transportation

Transportation of good, services and humans today will be very difficult without train transportation. The leisure of moving around from places and travelling through villages will not be available without railway transport today. The invention of railway transportation has revolutionized the world. Movement of people and goods in mass have changed various industries and overcome many difficulties that would have crumbled many businesses and hindered much more technological advancement which are present today.

The history of railway transportation started over 2000 years ago in the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Babylon and Greece. During those periods, transportation of people and goods were carried out with carts pulled by horses or bulls. Critical thinkers and engineers of that time observed that the horses are likely to cover more distances when travelling through defined paths than through rough and uneven terrain. This is possible because they are fewer chances for the animal to sway and leave the path when travelling through smooth terrains. This discovery leads them to build special roads with pre-built constraints for wheels. These roads were the first railway tracks and they can still be found today in Italy and Greece.

The very first steam engines appeared in 1804 and ran along primitive railway tracks. Many engineers started developing their own ideas of a locomotive engine but the most notable of all was Matthew Murray, who developed and showcased his simple locomotive machine. Richard Trevithick also gained public attention with his “Penydarren” locomotive that pulled over 25 tons of goods in weight and 70 persons during the first ride. This display led engineers to come up with pressurized steam engines that have enough power to pull larger weight of goods and people.

Railway tracks and train networks became commercially available in the late 1820s, the man behind this innovation was the English inventor George Stephenson. This development came from a competition where George was a participant. He was trying to figure out which steam locomotive design is the easiest to develop and use, and which is most powerful and reliable. His invention called “The Rocket” won the competition. The competition opened the eyes of the world to the possibilities hidden in the steam locomotive engine. In no short time, different designs of steam locomotives sprung up in the United States and the country recorded rapid expansion across all newly acquired lands.

Train technology received its first public recognition as engineers all over the world moved to accept this breakthrough and implemented this innovation in their respective countries. London town planners, and engineers where the first to formulate plans for inter-city railway tracks and underground tunnels. The very first section of the popular “London underground” licked off in 1863 amidst health concerns because of the dense smoke in the tunnels. The project grew until 1890 when all fleets in London dumped the steam engine for electrical engines. From this period, the urban rapid transit systems entered into a new phase, underground train systems sprung up all over the world and metro stations started appearing in every major city. Actually, the word “metro” was coined from the underground train system in Paris called “chemin de fer metropolitan” (which means “metropolitan railway”).

In our world today, we cannot talk about the mass movement of people and goods without mentioning the railway systems. Major cities are even moving to adopt train as the primary mode of transportation because of its importance to the environment. Every major industry all over the world today depends on the railway for the movement of their raw materials and finished products.