Railways outside Great Britain also Rail disasters, Railway tunnels, socio-economic effects of railways
Rail Accidents & Disasters
19/4/2004, Major train crash in North Korea, 2 fuel trains collided and exploded, causing 3,000 casualties.
10/5/2002. 7 were killed and 70 injured in a train crash at Potters Bar station, Hertfordshire. The crash was due to missing bolts at a set of points 200 yards north of the station. This caused the last carriage of a 4 car train to break loose and mount the platform as the train passed through Potters Bar station at 100 mph.
28/2/2001, The Selby rail crash.
17/10/2000, Major rail crash at Hatfield, Hertfordshire. A faulty rail derailed a Kings Cross to Leeds train on a curve, killing 4 and injuring 107. Faulty maintenance by Railtrack was blamed.
5/10/1999. A serious rail crash at Ladbroke Grove, outside Paddington, London, killed 31 people. Over 100 were injured. The 8.06 from Paddington to Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire, was cut in half by the express from Cheltenham at 8.11 am. The newly-privatised rail companies were criticised for not spending enough on signalling.
19/9/1997, An inter-city express collided with a freight train at Southall, west London, killing 7 people.
18/11/1996. Serious fire on Channel Tunnel train. The train was 12 miles inside the Tunnel, and the open latticework of the lorry carriages may have had a blowtorch effect on the fire which could have started before the train entered the Tunnel. Eight people suffered smoke inhalation injuries and the Tunnel was closed for months.
13/11/1994, The first passengers travelled through the Channel Tunnel.
4/3/1989, Train crash at Purley station, London, killed 5 and injured 94.
12/12/1988. A major train crash at Clapham Junction, south London. 38 died and 113 were injured as two morning rush hour trains collided. An express train ran into the back of a London commuter train that had stopped on the line to report a faulty signal. A third train was derailed and a fourth was stopped in time to avoid a further collision.
18/11/1987. The worst fire in the history of the London Underground killed 31 at King’s Cross. An accumulation of rubbish and fluff under a wooden escalator had been ignited by a cigarette end. Sprinklers had not been installed despite a recommendation in 1984 for them, and administrative errors meant passengers were still disembarking from Piccadilly Line trains as the fire spread. A ‘no smoking’ rule came into force across the London Underground on 24/11/1987.
18/1/1977, The worst rail disaster in Australia occurred when a Sydney bound train derailed, killing 82 people.
28/2/1975. A London Underground train from Drayton Park crashed through the buffers at Moorgate, killing 42 people. The driver, Leslie Newton, was bringing in his 8.37 train when instead of braking he accelerated into a 72 metre blind tunnel. The front 4.5 metres of the leading carriage were crushed into 60 centimetres.
1/2/1970, In Buenos Aires, a passenger train crashed into a parked commuter train, killing 236.
5/11/1967, 49 people were killed at a rail crash at Hither Green, south London.
4/12/1957, Major train crash at Lewisham, south east London, with 92 killed and over 200 injured. In thick fog, the 4.56 steam express from Cannon Street to Ramsgate missed two red signals and ploughed into the back of the stationary Charing Cross to Hayes electric train. The rear of the Hayes train telescoped whilst the tender of the steam train rose up and brought down a bridge carrying another rail line over the tracks. The 350-ton bridge crashed down onto the already-damaged carriages. Two minutes later another train was crossing the bridge; its driver saw the hole in the tracks just in time and stopped his train with the leading carriage leaning over the gap. Trains then did not have automatic warning systems if a red signal was passed.
1/9/1957, A train accident near Kendal, Jamaica, killed 175 and injured 400.
8/10/1952. 112 people were killed in a rail crash in north London. At 7.31 a.m. a commuter train about to leave Harrow and Wealdstone station was hit in the rear by a high speed train from Perth doing nearly 60 mph. A signalman changed all the signals to red but it was too late to stop a third train travelling north from Euston to hit the wreckage, demolishing a footbridge. Carriages were strewn across six tracks; 112 people died and 200 were injured in the worst rail disaster since 1915 when five trains collided at Quintinshill in Scotland killing 227 people.
25/7/1923, 100 killed in Bulgarian train crash.
26/1/1921, 17 people were killed at Abermule when the Aberystwyth to Whitchurch train collided with a train going the other way on a single track line. The train from Whitchurch (Shropshire) had been allowed to leave with the wrong tablet for this single-line section.
9/7/1918, America experienced its worst train accident. 101 were killed in Nashville, Tennessee.
14/8/1915, A rail crash in Weedon, England killed ten people.
12/12/1917, The world’s worst train accident occurred, at Modane, France. 534 were killed.
22/5/1915. The Gretna Green troop train disaster, the worst on Britain’s railways, took place; 227 died. Three trains had collided at Quintinshill, and 200 of the casualties were Scots Guards on the way to war. The shocked and dishevelled survivors were mistaken for German POWs and stoned by civilians.
1/1/1915, The Ilford rail crash in Essex, England killed ten people and injured another 500 passengers.
4/9/1912, The first tube train collision in London, 22 were injured.
16/7/1908, Fire at Moorgate tube station.
29/3/1907, A train derailed near Colton, California; 26 were killed and about 100 injured.
6/3/1906, An avalanche at Roger’s Pass in the US buried a train. By the time the train was dug out, 62 people had died.
1/7/1906, A train crash at Salisbury, UK, caused by excessive speed. Speed limits were now rigorously enforced and rail speed record attempts now ceased.
5/12/1905. The roof of Charing Cross Station collapsed, killing six people.
12/6/1889, A train crash in Armagh caused 80 deaths and 250 injured. As a result of this accident the Regulation of Railways Act 1889 was passed. This Act made block signalling, continuous brakes and interlocking points compulaory for rail companies.
28/12/1879. The Tay railway bridge collapsed whilst the 7.15 Edinburgh to Dundee train was crossing it. The train plummeted into the icy river below, killing 90 people. The bridge, between Fife and Angus, was designed by Thomas Bouch.
29/12/1876, 83 passengers were killed at Ashtabula, Ohio, as a 13-year-old bridge gave way under a train. A junior engineer had been fired in 1863 when he protested that the bridge, built by the railway’s chief engineer, was not strong enough.
25/8/1861, The Clayton Tunnel crash occurred on the London to Brighton railway. A train had stopped in the tunnel due to defective signalling, and the next train ran into it.
3/12/1836. Britain’s first fatal rail crash occurred at Great Corby, near Carlisle. Three people died.
17/6/1831, The first railway engine boiler explosion in the USA. A fireman had held the safety valve down.
1650, In County Durham, England, two boys were killed by a railway wagon; the first recorded rail casualties.
1/6/2016, The St Gotthard base tunnel opened to rail traffic after 20 years under construction. At 57.5 km, or 35 miles, it was the world’s longest tunnel to date.
6/5/1994. The Channel Tunnel was opened by Queen Elizabeth II and President Mitterand. 50 km long, it had taken 15,000 workers 7 years to complete and cost UK£ 10 billion. Construction of the Tunnel was started in November 1987, and workers met in the middle three years later. An earlier Channel Tunnel proposal in 1907 had been withdrawn after the British military feared it would be used for invasion.
10/12/1993. Builders of the Channel Tunnel officially handed over the keys to the operators, Eurotunnel.
1/12/1990. The Channel Tunnelers broke through to each other, 40 metres below the Channel seabed.
1/12/1987, Digging began on the Channel Tunnel.
12/2/1986. The Channel Tunnel agreement was signed in Canterbury. Britain and France had agreed to build the Tunnel on 24/1/1986.
20/1/1986, Britain and France announced plans to build the Channel Tunnel, after an historic agreement in Lille. The expected cost was £5 billion. Trains were expected to run by April 1993. A Channel Bridge was rejected as too hazardous, but it was hoped to add a road tunnel early in the 21st century.
19/3/1980, The British Government said a private consortium could build the Channel Tunnel, but no public money would be provided.
20/1/1975. The Channel Tunnel project was abandoned by the British Government.
17/11/1973, UK Prime Minister Edward Heath and French President Pompidou signed an agreement to build a Channel Tunnel rail link. However there were delays and construction did not start until 1987.
6/2/1964. Britain and France reaffirmed agreement to build a Channel Tunnel.
19/9/1963, France and Britain agreed to build a Channel Tunnel.
6/5/1957. The British and French revived plans for a Channel Tunnel link, despite fears over security and rabies.
11/11/1955, The Mount Royal Ohara rail tunnel, Japan, 5 km long, opened.
3/11/1955, The Rimutaka rail tunnel, New Zealand, 9 km long, opened.
3/6/1954, The new two-track Woodhead railway tunnel between Sheffield and Manchester, 5 km long, opened, replacing the earlier two single-track tunnels, see 2/2/1852.
17/12/1943, The Haegebostad rail tunnel, Norway, 3.2 km long, also the Kvineshei rail tunnel, Norway, 8.5 km long, opened. The Gyland rail tunnel, Norway, 5.5 km long, opened.
10/11/1937, The Senzan rail tunnel, Japan, 5.4 km long, opened.
9/8/1937, The Lusse rail tunnel, France, 7 km long, opened.
1/12/1934, The Tanna rail tunnel, Japan, 7 km long, opened.
22/4/1934, The Apennine rail tunnel, Italy, 19 km long, opened, linking Florence and Bologna. The Monte Adone rail tunnel, Italy, 7 km long, opened.
14/11/1933, The Biassa rail tunnel, Italy, 5.1 km long, opened.
1/9/1931, The Shimizu rail tunnel, Japan, 10 km long, opened.
5/6/1930, The UK Government rejected plans for a Channel Tunnel.
14/3/1930, The UK Government’s Channel Tunnel Committee approved the building of a Channel Tunnel.
21/7/1929, The Puymorens rail tunnel, France, 5.5 km long, opened.
12/1/1929, The Cascade Tunnel, USA, 12 km, long, was opened.
30/10/1928, The Col de Braus rail tunnel, France, 6 km long, opened.
27/2/1928, The Moffat rail tunnel, USA, 9 km long, opened.
28/10/1927, The Monte Orso rail tunnel, Italy, 7.5 km long, opened. Also the Vivola tunnel, Italy, 7 km long, opened. Also the Monte Massico rail tunnel, Italy, 5.5 km long, opened.
18/7/1927, The Somport rail tunnel, 8 km long, between France and Spain, opened.
4/8/1923, The Otira Tunnel, New Zealand, 9 km long, opened.
16/10/1922, The world’s longest main-line railway tunnel, the Simplon II under the Alps, 21 km long, was completed after four years work.
21/10/1918. The Mount Royal Ohara rail tunnel, Canada, 3.4 km long, opened.
10/3/1919, The UK Government was reported to favour the idea of a Channel Tunnel.
6/12/1916, The Connaught rail tunnel, Canada, 8.5 km long, opened.
8/1/1916. The Lower Hauenstein rail tunnel, Switzerland, 8.5 km long, opened.
1/10/1915, The Grenchenberg rail tunnel, Switzerland, 9 km long, opened.
16/5/1915, The Mont d’Or rail tunnel, between France and Switzerland, 6 km long, opened.
15/7/1913. The Lotschberg rail tunnel, Switzerland, 15 km long, opened.
1/8/1912, The Jungfrau rail tunnel, Switzerland, 7.5 km long, opened.
1/10/1910, The Ricken rail tunnel, Switzerland, 9 km long, opened.
7/7/1909, The Tauern rail tunnel, Austria, 9 km long, opened.
10/6/1908, The Gravehals rail tunnel, Norway, 5.5 km long, opened.
25/4/1907, The UK’s Channel Tunnel Bill was defeated because of War Office opposition and lack of popular support.
1/10/1906, The Karawanken rail tunnel, between Austria and Yugoslavia, 8 km long, opened.
9/7/1906, The Wochein rail tunnel, Yugoslavia, 6.5 km long, opened.
1/6/1906, The Simplon I rail tunnel, 20.5 km long, linking Switzerland and Italy, opened.
8/3/1904, The first rail tunnel under the Hudson River, New York, was completed (it did not open officially until 25/1/1908). The tunnel connected New Jersey with Manhattan.
1/9/1903, The Albula rail tunnel, Norway, 6 km long, opened.
9/12/1902. The Swiss Government agreed to build the Simplon Railway Tunnel.
1/10/1900, The Col di Tenda rail tunnel, Italy, 8.4 km long, opened.
30/7/1894, The San Cataldo rail tunnel, Italy, 5.1 km long, opened.
18/6/1894, The Turchino rail tunnel, Italy, 6.9 km long, opened.
6/11/1893. The Totley rail tunnel, UK, 6 km long, opened.
1889, The Arlberg Tunnel in Austria, 10 km long, opened.
20/6/1889, The Peloritana rail tunnel, Italy, 6.5 km long, opened
4/4/1889, The Ronco rail tunnel, Italy, 8.5 km long, opened.
1/9/1886, In Britain the railway tunnel under the Severn Estuary, 7 km long, opened to regular train services. It was then the world’s longest underwater tunnel.
20/1/1886, The Mersey rail tunnel was formally opened by the Prince of Wales, at James Street station. Begun in 1881, it is 1,100 metres long.
1/8/1885, The Marianopoli rail tunnel, Italy, 6.9 km long, opened.
27/10/1884, The two headings of the Severn Rail Tunnel met under thr river.
20/9/1884, The Arlberg rail tunnel, Austria, 11 km long, opened.
1/1/1882, The St Gotthard railway tunnel, 16 km long, opened to traffic.
29/2/1880, The cutting of the 15 km St Gotthard railway tunnel in Switzerland was completed. The chief engineer was Louis Favre. This linked the French and Italian rail systems.
9/2/1875, The Hoosac rail tunnel USA, 7 km long, opened.
13/9/1872, Work began on the St Gotthard railway tunnel.
17/9/1871, The 14 km Mont Cenis Tunnel, carrying the main railway from Lyons to Turin, was opened.
25/12/1870, The Mont Cenis Tunnel through the Alps, 12.9 km long, was completed (work began 1857) when the tunnelers met in the middle.
21/2/1863, A pneumatic railway for Post Office parcels under London’s streets began operating.
18/8/1857, Work began on the 12.5 km Mont Cenis rail tunnel under the Alps, linking France and Italy.
2/2/1852, The second Woodhead railway tunnel, between Sheffield and Manchester, opened. See 22/12/1845, 3/6/1954.
1/8/1849, The Standedge rail tunnel, UK, 5 km long, opened.
23/8/1847, The Higham and Strood Canal Tunnels in Kent were drained and converted into railway tunnels.
22/12/1845, The first of the original two single-track Woodhead railway tunnels, on the line between Sheffield and Manchester, opened to traffic. See 2/2/1852.
1826, The world’s first railway tunnel, on the Manchester to Liverpool line, was constructed.
Rail; socio-economic effects,
Social changes brought about by the railways included; employment, food availability, the dawn of the science of geology, hotels, housing clearance of the poor, multiple retail media chains, museums, railway new towns, mobility for the poor, speed of mobility, tourism, universal time across the UK.
28/3/1980. The London Transport Museum opened in Covent Garden, London.
27/9/1975, The National Rail Museum in York opened.
1948, Britain’s railways employed 629,000 people, up from 580,000 in 1938. In 1948, therefore, some 2 million people depended for their livelihood on raiway work. Most rail employees were male; women’s work on the railways was (apart from wartime) restricted to office work, cleaning, catering, station announcements, and opening the gates at level crossings.
1928, The London and North Eastern Railway opened the Railway Museum at York.
1924, The last steam locomotive was constructed at Stratford, east London. Most Great Eastern railway locomotives had been built at Stratford since 1878.
1906, The UK’s rail companies now owned 1,138 miles of canal out of the total canal network of 3,901 miles.
22/10/1902, The North British Hotel opened at Edinburgh’s Waverley Railway Station.
1891, The London and South Western Railway established its railway works at Eastliegh, Hampshire. Originally only carriages and wagons were built there; in 1910 the LSWR transferred locomotive building there from Nine Elms, London.
1884, The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway bought 350 acres of land in Horwich, Lancashire, to establish a new locomotive works.
1883, The Midland and Great Northern Railway established a small locomotive repair yard at its head office at Melton Constable. MGNR locomotives were built there from1896 until 1910; after this, only repairs were carried on, until the entire MGNR closed in 1959. However Melton Constable was greatly expanded by the presence of the MGNR yards.
1870, The social revolution in travel wrought by the railways was evident in the growing importance of third class travel to the railway companies’ revenue. In 1844 they had to be compelled to run ‘affordable’ workmen’s trains’. In 1844 one third of railway journeys, and one eight of revenue, came from third class; by 1870 third class accounted for two thirds of journeys and almost half of revenue.
17/12/1858, The Geologists Association, London was formed. The newly constructed railway cuttings and tunnels had stimulated the science.
1854, The North Eastern Railway opened its headquarters in York. The NER’s main locomotive works were at Darlington.
1853, The Great Northern Railway moved its engine works to Doncaster, from Boston, Lincolnshire. By 1900 the Doncaster works covered 200 acres and employed 4,500, and had 96 km of sidings.
1852, A rail passenger could travel from Exeter to Newcastle on Tyne on two days, staying overnight at Manchester (see roads, year 1754, for typical UK journey times by stagecoach, 1700s, 1800s). However this would have involved using the services of five different rail operators; Great Western to Gloucester, Midland to Birmingham, London and North Western to Manchester, then the next day the Lancashire and Yorkshire to Leeds and finally the North Eastern to Newcastle on Tyne. Bradshaws Railway Guide, first published in 1842 and surviving until 1961, was invaluable in planning the trip. However a big issue was through ticketing between railway companies. Through tickets might be impossible to obtain. The Railway Clearing House was established to deal with this issue, and how the ticket price should be divided between companies. But the Great Western did not join the Railway Clearing House system until the1860s.
2/11/1852, The Dean of Exeter Cathedral ordered that the cathedral clock be advanced 14 minutes to conform wth Greenwich mean time. This was a result of the railways spreading across Britain, and operating on a standard time. Nationwide standardisation of time had begun when the horse-drawn Irish mail coaches began running from London to Ireland via Chester and Holyhead; the mail coach guard carried a watch set to Greenwich time, and was required to inform the innkeepers along the way of the correct time. In 1830 the Manchester and Liverpool railway operated on Greenwich time. But there was resistance to this nationwide time in the West Country and Wales.
1/11/1848. W H Smith opened his first bookstall at Euston Station, London, the start of multiple retailing in Britain.
4/8/1845, Thomas Cook organised the first holiday excursion by rail, to North Wales, leaving Leicester at 5am.
1844, Milk reached Manchester (UK) by rail for the first time. Growing urban populations, distant from the countryside, could now receive fresh milk and other produce that was both fresh and cheap. Fresh vegetables, meat and fish supplies were now improved in cities.
1844, The British Government (Gladstone) legislated to force railway companies to run at least one train a day on all of their routes at a fare of more than 1d per mile, at at least 12 mph (overall, including stops); the so-called Workmen’s Trains. The carriages had to be covered and protected from the weather. Chuildren under 3 were to be carried free on these trains, and those between 3 and 12 to be carried at half-fare. Some companies ran such trains at unpopular hours such as 6am. However see 1870 above.
1843, The Grand Junction Railway inaugurated the locomotive works at Crewe. Crewe in 1841 had just 203 inhabitants. By 1851 the population of Crewe was 4,571. In 1840 Nantwich was the main town of the region, but canal interest predominated here and tried to prevent local landowners selling to the railways, saying the steam locomotives emitted dangerous fumes. Crewe, named after the local Crewe Hall, could offer the railway companies cheap land for their large workshops and marshalling yards. In 1861 a mill for rolling rails was built at Crewe. In 1901 Crewe had a population of 42,074.
1843, The London and South Western Railway started locomotive construction at its Nine Elms depot, London. This was also its London passenger terminus until 13/7/1848 when a more central terminus at Waterloo began operations.
1842, The Manchester and Liverpool Railway offered so-called ‘commutation tickets’; these were advance payment tickets for travellers who regularly used the line, for work journeys. The ‘commutation’ was the exchange of payment for long term travel rights. From this derives the term ‘commuter’ for anyone who regularly travels to work, even if not by train.
1841, The Great Western Railway began to develop Swindon as a railway town. From 2,000 inhabitants in 1841, its population grew to 40,000 by 1900, with 14,000 employed at the locomotive works and associated factories. However the usual problems of 19th century urban industrialisation were soon apparent. There was a lack of piped water and sanitation, Life expectancy at birth fell from 36 in Old Swindon in 1929 to 30 in Swindon in 1849.
5/7/1841. Thomas Cook, born 22/11/1808 in Derbyshire, introduced the first Cook’s Tour when 570 teetotallers took the train from Leicester to Loughborough to attend a temperance meeting, using cheap tickets, which he negotiated with the train company. See 1/5/1938.
1838, The London and Birmingham Railway (LBR) opened its workshops at Wolverton. In 1821 Wolverton was a village of 335 inhabitants. In 1854 the LBR buult more houses at New Bradwell. By 1851 Wolverton had a population of 2,070, rising to 3,600 by 1881. By 1901 Wolverton and New Bradwell together had 9,200 inhabitants. The railways created a market in mass personal travel that had never existed before. By 1845 1 million people were using the London to Birmingham line every year. This year the LBR used the word ‘timetable’ for the first time, derived from the maritime ‘tide tables’.
The ‘Global Metro’ Most major cities around the world have an underground metro system, known to Londoners as ‘the tube’; what would it be like if there was a ‘global metro’ that linked all the cities that possess their own metro system?
Rail / station locations
Urban metro systems
End of steam
Ireland (N & S)
31/1/1961, The West Claire Railway, immortalised in songs by Percy French, closed.
10/7/1949, The last tramcar ran in Dublin.
30/8/1906, A new express rail service linking Cork and Waterford with London via the new ports of Rosslare and Fishguard was inaugurated.
12/5/1866, The direct railway from Cork to Macroom opened.
31/12/1863, The railway from Londonderry to Lough Swilly opened.
5/9/1853, The Waterford to Tramore railway opened.
1/10/1852, The Londonderry to Newtown Limavady railway, 18 ¾ miles, opened.
13/9/1852, The Newton Stewart to Omagh railway, 9 ½ miles, opened.
10/6/1852, The Wellington Inn to Mullaglass railway, 6 miles, opened.
3/5/1852, The Tipperary to Clonmel railway, 24 ½ miles, opened.
9/2/1852, The Strabane to Newton Stewart railway, 9 ¾ miles, opened.
6/1/1852, The railway from Portadown to Mullaglass, 16 ¾ miles, opened.
8/12/1851, The railway from Cork to Bailinhassig, 10 miles, opened.
1/8/1851, The Dublin to Galway railway, 76 ¼ miles, opened.
14/11/1850, In Kilkenny, Ireland, the Bagenalstown to Laristown Junction railway, 10 ¾ miles, opened.
6/5/1850, The railway from Belfast to Newtonards, 13 ½ miles, opened.
1/11/1849, The Mallow to Cork railway, 19 ¾ miles, opened.
17/3/1849. The railway from Limerick Junction to Mallow opened.
2/8/1848, The railway from Belfast to Holywood opened.
3/7/1848, The Thurles to Limerick Junction railway, 20 ½ miles, opened.
11/5/1848, The Kilkenny to Thomastown railway, 10 ¾ miles, opened.
11/4/1848, The railway from Belfast to Ballymena, 33 ½ miles, also the Carrickfergus branch (3 miles) and the Randalstown branch (2 miles) opened.
9/5/1848, The Limerick to Tipperary railway, 24 ¾ miles, opened.
26/5/1844, The Dublin to Drogheda railway opened.
12/8/1839, The railway from Belfast to Lisburn opened; extended to Armagh, 1/3/1848.
17/12/1834, The first railway in Ireland opened, from Dublin to Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire), 6 miles.
1962, Bodo, in the far north of Norway, was linked to Oslo by rail.
15/11/1950, Hjuksebø train disaster: Four runaway freight cars collided with passenger train no. 72, en route from Kristiansand to Oslo. With fourteen deaths resulting from the crash, it remained Norway's worst railway accident in peacetime until the Tretten train disaster in 1975.
1944, Stavanger was linked to Oslo by rail.
1938, Kristiansand was liked to Oslo by rail.
1921, Trondheim was linked to Oslo by rail.
1909, The Oslo to Bergen railway was built.
1905, Norway became independent from Sweden. Previously, its lines had ran mainly to Stockholm. After 1905 the Norwegian Government commenced the construction of a unified national rail system linking the major sities to Oslo.
1/9/1854, The first railway in Norway opened, Oslo (Christiania) to Eidsvoll, 70 km.
1917, A mineral line 2.5 km long, 1-metre gauge, opened at King’s Bay to serve the coal mines. It was the most northerly railway in the world. It closed in 1929, reopened in 1945, and closed permanently in 1965 after a mine explosion.
1950, The Stockholm metro (T-bahn) began operations.
1902, The railway from Kiruna was completed to the sea at Narvik (Norway). This line was necessary to facilitate the bulk export of iron ore from the great deposits at Kiruna. The Gulf Stream ensured that Narvik was ice-free all year round. The Narvik line was technically difficult due to mountainous terrain, necessitating long tuinnels. An earlier line from the smaller deposits at Gallivare had been built in the 1880s to the Baltic port of Lulea, but this port was icebound during the winter.
1/12/1856, The first railways in Sweden opened; Gothenburg to Jonsered and Malmo to Lund.
1862, The first railway in Finland opened, from Helsinki to Hameenlinna.
1927, Danish railways begn replacing steam locomotives with diesel; the process was completed in 1970,when the last Danish steam train ran.
26/6/1847, The first railway in Denmark opened; Copenhagen to Roskilde. The Altona to Kiel railway, opened 1844, was in Danish territory when built but from 1864 has been in German territory.
1927, The railway from Rotterdam to Amsterdam was electrified.
1908, The ralway from Rotterdam to The Hague was electrified.
1/1/1938, The Netherlands railways were nationalised, having gone bankrupt in 1937.
24/9/1839, The first passenger railway opened in The Netherlands. It ran from Amsterdam to Haarlem.
1935, The first line in Belgium was electrified; Brussels to Antwerp.
1911, Construction began on the Brussels Midi line; a 6-track route through the centre of Brussels, part underground, part elevated, linking the city’s Nord and Midi termini. However World War One and economic depression delayed completion until 1938.
5/5/1835. The railway from Brussels to Malines opened (14.5 miles). The first railway in Belgium. Belgian State railways was the first State-owned railway company.
15/5/1933, Germany inaugurated what was then the fastest train service in the world, between Berlin and Hamburg, covering 178 miles in 138 minutes, an average speed of 77.4 mph.
15/2/1902. The Berlin underground railway opened.
19/9/1841. The first railway to cross a frontier was opened between Strasbourg and Basle.
1839, The first long-distance line in Germany opened, 121 km from Leipzig to Dresden.
7/12/1835, The first railway in Germany, the Ludwigsbahn, opened between Nuremberg and Furth.
14/2/1834, Construction of the first railway in Germany, 7 km from Nuremberg to Furth, was sanctioned by King Ludwig I of Bavaria.
1933, A new 590 km line to link the coal mines of Silesia to the new port of Gdynia was completed. It was built by a French company, due to financial problems in Poland at the time.
1910, The Swiss railways were nationalised.
9/8/1847, In Switzerland the Zurich to Baden railway, 24 km, opened.
15/6/1844. The first railway in Switzerland opened, Basle to St Ludwig.
1872, The railway through Vaduz opened.
27/1/1908, Austria announced plans to build a railway south towards Salonika, to assist trade and extend Austro-Hungarian political influence.
1860, The line from Vienna to Belgrade opened.
1853, The first railway through the Alps, from Vienna to Trieste, opened.
1852, The line from Vienna to Salzburg opened.
6/1/1838. The first steam railway line in Austria opened, between Vienna and Wagram via Florisdorf.
7/9/1827, The first railway in Austria opened. This was from Budweis to Trojanov, later extended to Linz, using horse traction.
15/12/2012, The 14·3 km extension of orbital tram route T3 following the Boulevards des Maréchaux ring road around the eastern side of Paris was opened for revenue service. This trebled the length of T3, which ran for 7·9 km across the south of Paris from Pont du Garigliano to Porte d’Ivry since 2006, and added 24 stops.
22/9/1981. The TGV was inaugurated in France. It ran at 300 kph (186 mph), was a quarter of a mile long, and set a record speed of 513.3 kph on 18/5/1990.
20/5/1977, The Orient Express, between Paris and Istanbul, ran for the last time.
25/9/1976. It was announced that the Orient Express, which had run between Istanbul and Paris since 1883, was to be withdrawn.
1961, Paris’ RER (Reseau Express Regional) railway network was begun.
1937, The Paris to Le Mans line was electrified.
12/10/1936, A London to Paris through train service began.
1914, Work on the line from le Puy to Lalevade d’Ardeche was suspended; it was never resumed.
10/7/1900. The Paris Metro opened. It was designed by Fulgence Bienvenue.
6/10/1883, The Orient Express made its maiden run from Paris to Bucharest, Romania, in just under 78 hours. The route was extended to Constantinople, now Istanbul, in 1889.
1876, The Wagon Lits Company was founded, taking over 53 sleeping raial cars from an earlier enterprise. From 1889 Wagon Lit services began in north Africa, in Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia.
3/1847, The Paris and Rouen railway was extended to Le Havre.
11/6/1842, France passed the Railway Law Act, stipulating that all French railways were to be under public ownership, with the State directing what lines were to be built and their operation. However lines could be leased to private operators.
19/9/1841. The first railway to cross a frontier was opened between Strasbourg and Basle.
26/8/1837, The Paris to St Germain railway opened.
9/7/1835. The St Etienne to Lyons railway opened to passengers.
25/6/1830, The first section of the St Etienne to Lyons railway, from Givors to Rive de Gier, opened. It was initially worked by both horse and steam. Horse traction ceased on 1/8/1844.
1/10/1828, The horse-drawn St Etienne to Andrezieux railway opened; the first railway in France. It was converted to steam in 1844.
1964, The main line through Monaco was reloved from the sea front and put in a tunnel. It was electrified in 1969.
28/10/1856, The first railway in Portugal opened; Lisbon to Carregado, 39 km.
1939, The Spanish broad gauge network was nationalised.
1875, First railway in Majorca.
1870, First railway to Cordoba.
1850, First railway in Madrid.
28/10/1848, The first railway in Spain opened; Barcelona to Mataro, 29km.
20/8/1925. Rome’s underground railway opened.
1857, The Milan to Venice railway opened.
1854, The Turin to Genoa railway opened.
1853, The first railway through the Alps, from Vienna to Trieste, opened.
1846, The railway reached Venice, via a 1.2 km causeway over the lagoon, ending the city’s status as an island.
4/10/1839, The first railway opened in Italy: Naples to Portici.
1883, The Valetta to Citta Vechia railway, 12 km at 1-metre gauge, opened. It was unable to compete from the start with horse-drawn road transport, and was taken over by the State in 1892, With the advent of mmotorised buses and cars, the line closed in 1931.
12/8/1888, The railway from Budapest to Constantinople opened.
15/7/1846, The first railway in Hungary opened; Pest to Vacs, 35 km.
Serbia / Yugoslavia
27/11/1975, A new modern railway from Belgrade to the Mediterranean port of Bar opened (construction began 1952).
15/9/1884, The first railway in Serbia opened; Belgrade to Nish, 151 miles.
16/11/1979, Bucharest Metro Line One opened, from Timpur Noi to Semanatoarea, 8.63 kilometres.
19/10/1869, The first railway in Romania opened; Bucharest to Giurgiu, 70 km.
1899, The Sofia to Varna railway opened.
1888, The railway across Bulgaria from Dragoman via Sofia and Plovdiv to Silvengrad (and on to Istanbul) opened; this routewas used by the Orient Express.
1866, The first railway in Bulgaria opened, from Ruschuk (Ruse) to Varna.
1949, The railway reached the capital, Tirana.
7/11/1947, The first railway in Albania opened. It ran from Durres to Pekinj, 42km.
1916, A 90 kilometre railway was completed linking the Greek railways to the rest of Europe.
21/10/1905, A 110 km line of gauge 0.75 metres opened from Famagusta (Cyprus) via Nicosia to Morphou. It closed on 31/12/1951.
1869, The first railway in Greece opened. It was 10km long and ran from Atens to the port of Piraeus. It was electrified in 1904.
9/7/1935. Engineers building the Moscow Underground discovered Ivan the Terrible’s torture chamber.
15/5/1935, The Moscow Metro railway was opened by Joseph Stalin.
1905, The Orenburg to Tashkent railway opened.
1/1/1905. The Trans-Siberian railway officially opened. Its aim was to facilitate trade between Russia and China. Furs, grain, and cattle from Siberia would be traded for tea, silk, and cotton from China.
21/7/1904. The Trans Siberian Railway was finally completed. The 4,607 miles of track took 13 years to lay.
1/10/1903, The Russian railway system was linked to European railways.
1898. The Perm to Kotlas (River Dvina) railway opened.
30/11/1897, The Vologda to Archangel railway opened.
1891, Construction began on the Trans-Siberian railway, Moscow to Vladivostock. See 21/7/1904.
1887, The North Caucasus Railway, connecting Baku and Novorossiak, opened.
1883, The Baku to Batoumi and Tiflis railway opened.
13/11/1851, The railway between Moscow and St Petersburg opened.
1838, The first railway in Russia opened, from St Petersburg to the Czar’s Summer Palace at Tsarskoe Selo.
1905, Samarkand was connected by rail with Tashkent.
1888, Samarkand was connected by rail with the Caspian Sea.
Appendix 4.2 Asian railways (ex former USSR)
1870, The first section of the Anatolian Railway, from Haidar Pasha to Ismid, 58 miles opened. Ismid to Angora, 301 miles, opened in 1892. A branch from Eskishehr (between Ismid and Angora) to Konieh, 276 miles, opened in 1896.
8/1892, The railway from Jerusalem to Jaffa opened.
17/7/1940, The Baghdad Railway was completed.
1899, The Baghdad Railway was first proposed in Germany. This was a scheme to build a railway from Berlin via the Bosphorus to Baghdad and possibly on to the Shatt al Arab, thereby linking to the Persian Gulf.The scheme alarmed Britain which perceived a threat to its interests oin southern Persia and India; also Russia which was seeking to develop the railway system in Persia from its own territories to the north.
1864, The Hejaz Railway. A ‘pilgrim’s railway’ was first proposed, to run from Damascus and Cairo to Mecca and Medina. The idea failed to gain headway until the British gained influence in the region due to the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. That incentivised Germany, along with Ottoman Turkey, to create a rail link under Turkish control down into Saudi Arabia. A Turkish engineer surveyed the route in 1900. The route would follow the old caravan route, which had water supplies, needed by steam engines as well as people. A unique rail guage of 105 cm was chosen so no other nation’s rolling stock would fit. The route from Damascus to Medina, some 1400 km, opened on 1/9/1908. During World War One, the Arab revolt against Ottoman Turkey, led by Lawrence of Arabia, resulted in this railway being largely destroyed. However the northern section between Ma’an and Damascus was repaired by the Allies as they needed it for the assault on Damsacus and further north in 1918. Plans to restore the entire line were made in the early 1960s but were cancelled due to the Six Day War in 1967. Restoration plans continue to be proposed in the early 21st century.
1/1939, The Trans Iranian Railway was completed, after nearly 12 years under construction, linking the Caspian Sea with the Persian Gulf.
13/5/1861. The first railway in what is now (2016) Pakistan opened, from Karachi City to Kochi, 105 miles.
1854, The first line of the East India Railway Company opened,
18/4/1853, The first railway in India opened; Mumbai to Thana, 30 km. By 1856 rail lines linked Mumbai, Kolkata, Madras and Nagpur.
2/10/1865, The first railway in Sri Lanka opened, from Colombo to Ambepussa.
1888, The railway from Yangon (Rangoon) to Mandalay opened.
1956, the Trans-Mongolian Railway opened, linking to Beijing and to the Trans-Baikal Railway at Naushki.
28/9/2009, Line Four of the Beijing Metro, 28.2 km long, opened.
8/12/2007, Construction work began on Line L2 of the Beijing Metro, running 23 km from the southern terminus of Line Five. Trains began running in December 2010.
2006, The first railway from China into Tibet opened, from Golmud to Lhasa.
1/10/1969, The first line of the Beijing Metro, 24 km long, opened. Construction had been approved in 1965.
1936, The Canton to Hankow railway was completed.
1912, The first Chinese President, Sun Yat Sen, called for a railway to be built from China into Tibet. This was a political move, to counter the British occupation of Tibet proceeding from India.
1888, The Tangshan to Tientsin railway opened. It was extended to Shanghaikuan in 1894,and to Feng’tai near Beijing in 1896.
1866, First railway in China opened.
1/4/1987, Japan privatised its railways, to seven companies.
1964, The ‘Bullet Train’ was inaugurated between Tokyo and Osaka. It averaged 163 km/hr (101 mph).
1927, The frst line of the Tokyo subway opened.
16/3/1906 Japanese railways were nationalised.
14/10/1872, The Yokohama to Shinagawa line was extended to Tokyo.
12/6/1872, The first railway in Japan opened; Yokohama to Shinagawa.
1892, Railway from Manila Bay to Gulf of Linguven, 120 miles, opened.
Appendix 4.3 Australasian railways
23/2/1970, Passenger services began on the railway between Perth and Sydney, Australia, a distance of 2,461 miles.
22/10/1917, The Trans-Australia Railway opened, from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta.
1912, Construction of the Trans-Australia railway began.
31/7/1865, The Ipswich to Grantchester railway, 21 miles, opened. The first railway in Queensland.
21/4/1856, The Adelaide to Port Adelaide railway, Australia, opened.
26/9/1855, The first railway in New South Wales opened, Sydney to Parramatta.
12/9/1854, The Flinders Street to Port Melbourne railway opened, the first steam railway in Australia.
18/5/1854, The Port Elliot & Goolwa railway, South Australia, opened. Drawn by horse, this was the first public railway in Australia, carrying goods and people.
1837, The first railway in Australia ran in Tasmania from Norfolk Bay to Long Bay across the Tasman Peninsula. Passengers were pushed in open wagons by teams of four convicts.
1864, A railway, 18km was opened from Westport to the coal mines. Westport to Fairdown via Sergeants Hill opened 31/12/1875; extended to Seddonville 1895. These railways remained isolated until joined to the national network by the opening of the Stillwater to Westport via Buller Girge railway, 1942.
1/12/1863, The first steam railway in New Zealand opened, from Christchurch to Ferrymead.
Appendix 4.4 African railways
1862, First railway opened in Algeria. The foundation stone of Blidah Station, on this line, was laid in 1859.
9/1908, First railway in Morocco opened, from Casablanca to Ber Rashid. This line was to export the agricultural produce from the area.
1987, The Cairo metro opened; the first subway system in Africa.
1856, The first railway line in Africa opened, between Cairo and Alexandria.
1906, The Suakin to Berber railway opened.
1918, The railway from Addis Ababa to Djibouti was completed.
6/2/1902, France agreed with Ethiopia to finance a railway from Djibouti to Addis Ababa. Britain and Italy both protested.
1885, The first railway in West Africa opened, between Goree (Dakar) and St Louis.
1903, Railway opened running inland from Abidjan.
1905, The railway reached Abomey.
1912, Railway to Kano opened.
26/12/1901, The Uganda Railway was completed, linking Mombasa with Lake Victoria.
2/2/1914, A 900-mile railway opened between Dar-Es-Salaam and Tanganyika.
6/10/1902. A railway between Bulawayo and Salisbury was completed. It ran a total of 2000 miles down to Cape Town.
1956, The railway between Bulowayo and Lourenco Marques opened.
22/6/1904, The Cape to Cairo railway opened.
8/7/1895. The opening of the Delagoa Bay railway, from Johannesburg to Maputo Bay, gave the Transvaal access to the sea independent of the British colonies.
1894, The railway reached Mafeking.
1892, The Cape Town to Johannesburg railway was completed.
13/2/1862, In South Africa, the Cape Town to Erste River railway opened.
26/6/1860, The first railway in South Africa opened; Durban to Point (Natal).
Appendix 4.5 North American railways (US, Canada)
9/3/1919, The Canadian Grand Trunk Pacific Railway went bankrupt. It was nationalised in 1920.
25/1/1915. In Canada, the Northern Railway from Lake Superior to the Pacific Coast was completed.
23/5/1887, The Canadian Pacific Railway reached Vancouver.
28/6/1886, The first through train for the Pacific left Montreal.
7/11/1885, The last spikes were driven in at Craigellachie in British Columbia, completing the Canadian Pacific Railway after 4 ½ years work. The Government of British Columbia had stipulated that they would only join the Canadian federation, rather than the USA, if they were connected by railway to the rest of Canada by 1891. Trains running from Montreal to Port Moody, capital of British Columbia from 1886, took 5 to 6 days.
1881, The Canada Pacific Railway Company was founded.
21/7/1836, The Champlain & St Lawrence Railroad, the first steam railway in Canada, opened between Laprarie and St John.
27/3/1976, The first 4.6 miles of the Washington DC subway system opened.
1/5/1971, Amtrak, the US rail operator, began operations.
1949, General Motors and other auto companies were found guilty, in a trial that had begun in 1947, on Federal antitrust charges. They had, from the late 1920s, secretly purchased many of America’s tram and light rail systems so as to close them down, to boost the car market. However the Judge in the case, William J Campbell, imposed only a nominal pena;lty, a fine of US$ 5,000 on GM and the other companies, and a fine of US$ 1 on each of the dirctors.
28/2/1936, The Interstate Commerce Commission ordered a reduction in basic rail passenger fares from 3.6 to 2 cents per mile everywhere in the United States.
18/12/1935, The Huey P Long Bridge in Mentaine, Louisiana, opened. It was the world’s longest railway bridge.
27/12/1917, The US Government took over the American railways.
12/3/1914, George Westinghouse, American engineer who patented the Westinghouse Railway Brake in 1868, died in New York City.
2/2/1913. Grand Central Station in New York, the world’s largest railway station, opened.
1906, The Hepburn Act allowed the US Interstate Commerce Commission to regulate railway services.
27/10/1904. The first section of the New York subway opened. Trains ran from City Hall to Broadway and 145th Street.
1903, In the US, the Elkins Act forbade rail companies to give preferential carriage rates to favoured customers, and forced them to issue public notices of rates.
1901, Henry R Huntington incorporated the Pacific Railway Company, and began construction ofinter-urban lines around Los Angeles. By 1913 the network reached 42 cities, provoking a building boom.
19/10/1897, George Pullman, US manufacturer of railway sleeping and dining cars that bear his name, died in Chicago, Illnois, aged 66.
1895, The Chicago overhead electric railway, 29km, opened.
18/9/1893. In the USA, the Great Northern Pacific Railway opened. This was the most northerly of the USA’s rail routes between the Mississippi River and the Pacific.
10/8/1885, The first electric street car railway in the US was opened in Baltimore by Leo Daft.
1876, The first railway reached Los Angeles (Southern Pacific Railroad). The Santa Fe Railroad reached Los Angeles in 1885. For a time the rail fare westwards from Chicago was just 1US$, although considerably more going east. This pricing strategy was adopted to encourage more settlers to move west, so railway income from fruit harvested around Los Angeles would increase.
6/9/1876, San Francisco and Los Angeles were now lined by rail.
1/8/1873, The first street cable cars in the world were installed in San Francisco, on Clay Street Hill; the steep terrain made horse buses impractical. They were the invention of engineer Andrew Smith Hallidie, 37.
19/12/1871, The city of Birmingham, Alabama, was incorporated. In 1870 the site of Birmingham was a cotton field crossed by two railways. Birmingham was founded by a land company backed by the railways.
24/7/1870. The first transcontinental train arrived in New York from San Francisco.
26/2/1870, The first underground railway in the USA opened, in New York.
10/5/1869. The first railroad across the USA from east to west, 1,776 miles long, was completed after three years work at a ceremony west of Ogden, in Utah. The Union Pacific Line finally met with the Central Pacific Line. Both companies raced to lay as much track as possible as they converged, spurred on by government payments of US$16,000 per mile, more for mountainous areas. A golden spike was driven in at Promontory Point, Utah, where the railways met. Travel time between New York and San Francisco was slashed from 3 months to 8 days.
1865, The first train hold-up, at North Bend, Ohio.
1859, The Pullman carriages on the Chicago and Alton railroad were first equipped with toilets.
1856, The Illinois Central Railroad was completed between Chicago and Cairo, Illinois.
1854, The B&O railway between Baltimore and Wheeling opened.
1851, The railway reached Cleveland, Ohio,
6/10/1846, George Westinghouse, US engineer and inventor of the railway air brake, was born in Central bridge, New York State.
1841, The Boston to Albany railway opened.
18/4/1836, The Long Island Railroad, USA, began operations.
24/8/1835, Passenger rail services began into Washington DC, USA.
9/11/1833, The first passenger train accident in the US. 12 of the 24 passengers on the Camden and Amboy line between Spotswood and Hightstown, New Jersey, were seriously injured.
6/6/1833, The Baltimore to Ohio railroad became the first railway to carry a US President, Andrew Jackson.
30/6/1831, The Baltimore to Ohio railroad became the first railway in the US to carry troops.
3/3/1831, George Pullman, who developed the Pullman Railway Carriage, was born in Brocton, New York State.
15/1/1831, The South Carolina Railroad opened in the US. It was the first in the US with a regular passenger service.
25/12/1830, The first steam-powered regular train service in America began, running from Charleston on the South Carolina Railroad.
14/12/1830, The first practical rail locomotive capable of running a regular passenger service began operations on the South Carolina Railroad. Full passenger services began on 25/12/1830.
25/8/1830, A lighter steam locomotive began operating on US rails; and was capable of 13 mph.
24/5/1830, The first passenger railway in America opened, from Baltimore to Ohio, 22 km.
9/10/1829, In the US the Carbondale to Honesdale railway was opened by the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company. However the steam locomotives were too heavy for the track, which was initially worked as a gravity line.
7/8/1829, The first steam railway engine ran in the USA. It operated on the Delaware and Hudson Bay railways, but was too heavy for the rails so was impractical.
4/7/1828, Construction began on the Baltimore and Ohio railroad.
7/10/1826, The first railway in the USA opened, at Quincy, Massachusetts.
25/8/1819, Allan Pinkerton, founder of the Pinkerton detective agency, which specialised in railway theft, was born.
Appendix 4.6 Central & South American railways (inc. Mexico)
1970, The Mexico City metro system opened.
28/1/1855. The 47-mile Panama Railway, linking the Atlantic and Pacific across the Isthmus of Panama, opened.
1883, Railway from Caracas to the port of La Guaira, 38 km, opened.
30/4/1854, The first railway in Brazil opened.
20/2/1948, The 863 kilometre railway from Salta, Argentina, to Antofagasta, Chile, was completed.
1913, The first urben metro system on South America opened, in Buenos Aires.
1911, A Trans-Andean railway from Argentina to Chile was completed.
14/12/1865, The Buenos Aires to Chascomus railway, 70 miles, opened.
30/8/1857, The first railway in Argentina opened, Parque to Floresta.