Railway - Continental Europe
European Railway History, Companies, Steam, Diesel and Electric Locomotives
The initial section of the French Saint-Étienne to Lyon line was the first passenger railway to open in Continental Europe in 1830 with horse-drawn carriages and wagons; steam locomotives were introduced in 1831 and the line completed in 1832. The second line was in Belgium from Brussels to Mechelen in 1835, being the first section of a line from the industrial town of Mons to the port of Antwerp completed in 1836. In Germany, the Bavarian Ludwig Railway between Nuremberg and Fürth was the first locomotive operated railway also opening in 1835, while the first main line was that between Leipzig and Dresden, fully opened in 1839. In the Netherlands, the first line, Amsterdam to Rotterdam, was completed in 1847.
Across Continental Europe the railway network developed rapidly from the early 1840s onwards, although political and economic factors led to certain countries establishing a network more rapidly than others. Private companies, driven by the needs of industrialisation, built many of the lines in countries such as Belgium and Germany, while in others, such as France, the state was far more involved in directing rail policy and the network was developed in the 1850s or later. In Russia, real expansion did not start until the 1880s and continued in the Soviet era. Across Europe individual railway companies were amalgamated during the nineteenth century, eventually creating single operating companies, many of which becoming national state-owned enterprises in the first part of the twentieth century.
The first steam locomotives in Continental Europe were developments from the pioneering ‘Rocket’ design and supplied from Great Britain by George and Robert Stephenson. In France, Belgium and Germany the first locomotives were imported from England, including the Bavarian 2-2-2 ‘Adler’ locomotive in 1835 and the Marc Seguin designed first French locomotives in 1831. The first locomotive built in continental Europe was ‘Le Belge’ in 1835 operating on the Brussels to Antwerp line. European manufacturers developed, such as Borsig and Henschel in Germany, the steam locomotive through to the end of steam. Electric and diesel locomotives were developed from the beginning of the twentieth century and replaced steam in most leading countries by the early 1970s.
As networks expanded, long distance international trains provided new possibilities for freight and passenger transport. The Orient Express first operated in 1883 between Paris and Vienna, the Rheingold express operated from Geneva to the Hook of Holland from the 1920s, and the Trans-Siberian Railway was built from the 1890s. In the later twentieth century, high speed trains, such as the TGV, ICE, AVE and Eurostar, established the model for modern rail development.
This listing covers all books on Continental European railways, while the sub-categories on the left of this page cover specific countries. Click the book image for more details including the examples in stock.
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