~ The Railway Timeline ~

Steam
1800

1803: British engineer Richard Trevithick creates the first steam engine able to run dragging a load.

Locomotive Trevithick, 1803

1804: Richard Trevithick won a bet when his machine "Tram Waggon" dragged a convoy weighing more than 25 tonnes, traveling at a speed of four kilometers per hour.

1805

1808: Richard Trevithick presented in London his machine called "Catch me who can"; his intention was to make a business out of his machine in a kind of steam circus installed by him, but this project failed in this regard.

1810

1813: British engineer John Blenkinsop creates a gear and rack railway in the attempt to solve the problems related to adherence with the rails.

Locomotive Blenkinsop

1814: British manufacturer William Hedley finishes a locomotive which solved the problems of adherence by finding an appropriate relation between the weight of the locomotive and the load that it drags; weighing eight tonnes, it could drag a total load of 50 tonnes at a speed of eight kilometers per hour. British engineer George Stephenson builds his first steam locomotive; this one, weighing six tonnes, was able to drag a convoy of 30 wagons at a speed of 6.5 kilometers per hour.

Locomotive Hedley, 1814
1815
1820
1825

1825: The first railway line made on purpose for passenger transport is inaugurated in England, with a locomotive built by engineer George Stephenson, connecting Darlington and Stockton. In United States, engineer Gridley Bryant carried out a project for a railway connecting the Neponset River with Quincy City, but unlike in England, traction was given by horses, the rails of this railroad were still made in wood with a metallic cover and granite was transported instead of passengers.

The first train, 1825

1828: It started service the first railway line built in France and continental Europe; this line connected the mines in Saint-Étienne and the Loire River, transporting coal from the first place to the second one by means of animal traction.

1829: In January it arrives to United States the first steam locomotive, built by George Stephenson and baptized as "America".

Locomotive America, 1828
1830

1830: The locomotive "Tom Thumb" races against a horse along the line Baltimore-Relay in Maryland... and loses. The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad starts operating in United States as the first scheduled line transporting passengers, and also freight. In England the locomotive "Rocket" built by George and Robert Stephenson won a contest against other manufacturers in occasion of the opening of the railway line Liverpool-Manchester. French engineer Marc Seguin finished the railway line between Saint Étienne and Lyon.

Tom Thumb locomotive, 1830 Locomotive Rocket, 1830 Locomotive of the Baltimore & Ohio Day, 1832

1832: First steam-powered railway lines in France.

1835

1835: Germany inaugurated its first railway line connecting Nuremberg and Furth; this line operated with a locomotive built by Stephenson, baptized as "Eagle", and also a machinist imported from England as well. Belgium inaugurated its first railway line connecting Brussels and Mechelen.

1836: The first sleeping cars appear in Pennsylvania. Russia inaugurated it first railway line connecting Paulovsk and Konzimin.

1837: Austria inaugurated its first railway line connecting Florisdorf and Wagram. Inauguration of the railway line Paris-Saint Germain. In Philadelphia, the company founded by Matthias W. Baldwille produced 80 locomotives in a sole year.

1838: The first postal wagon enters service in the railway line London-Liverpool.

1839: Italy inaugurated its first railway line, between Naples and Portici; for the occasion three locomotives were imported from England, one of them baptized as "Bayard" after the French company which built the railroad. Holland inaugurated its first railway line connecting Amsterdam and Haarlem.

Locomotive Bayard, 1839
1840

1840: Second Italian railway, this time between Milan and Monza. First railway lines in Canada.

1843: France finished the railway line between Paris and Rouen. Thomas Russell Crampton built the first locomotive fitted with a rear driving wheel of large diameter.

Locomotive Norris, 1843
1845

1846: The railroad gauge adopted by George Stephenson, equivalent to 1435 millimeters, is adopted as standard in England.

Locomotive Norris, 1846 Locomotive Crampton, 1847

1847: First Swiss railway line, between Zurich and Basilea. Denmark inaugurated its first railway line connecting Copenhagen and Roskilde. France finished the railway line between Rouen and Le Havre.

1848: First Spanish railway line, between Barcelona and Mataró, operated with materials imported from England.

Locomotive Crampton, 1849
1850

1850: Construction of the first locomotives for the railway line Paris-Orleans.

1851: Spain inaugurated its second railway line, between Madrid and Aranjuez. First railway lines in Peru. First connection between a train and a ferry boat, in the Firth of Forth, between Scotland and England.

1852: First railway lines in Chile.

1853: First railway lines in India.

1854: First railway lines in Brazil and Australia. From the workshops Ansaldo di Sampierdarena depart in 1854 the first locomotives of Italian manufacture. It was inaugurated in Austria the first mountain railway in the world, connecting Villach, Lubiana, Graz and Vienna.

1855

1856: Sweden inaugurated its first steam-powered railway line, following the route Nora-Ervalla-Orebro. First railway lines in Egypt. In occasion of the Crimean War, the railway is used for the first time to transport troops. Inauguration of the railway line between Saint Petersbourg and Moscow. First Portuguese railway line connecting Lisbon and Cintra.

1857: First railway lines in Argentina.

1858: George M. Pullman started to build in United States the luxury cars which took their name from him.

1859: Robert Stephenson delivers a luxury train to the viceroy of Egypt; that same year he died. The first sleeping car built by Pullman travels from Bloomington to Chicago.

Locomotive of the viceroy of Egypt
1860

1860: In this year the abundant inversions in the American railways had taken 28000 acres of land east of the Mississippi. In Australia it was inaugurated the railway line between Sidney and Parramatta. South Africa inaugurated its first railway line connecting Durban and Harbour Point.

1861-65: During the American Civil War are used trains equipped with armored artillery wagons and 25000 soldiers are transported in a time span of 12 days by 30 convoys.

Locomotive from the American Civil War

1862: The railway reached the mature age in United States with the constitution of the lines Union Pacific and Central Pacific. Swiss engineer Niklaus Riggenbach patented the system known as rack railway, obtaining authorization for a line in the Gotthard Pass.

1863: London inaugurated the first subway in the world operating with steam engines whose smoke was troublesome. The first dining car entered service in the railway line between Philadelphia and Baltimore.

1864: French engineer Alfred Belpaire introduced the firebox of square section.

British locomotive, 1887
1865

1866: The first operative rack railway was inaugurated in the slopes of Mount Washington.

Subway locomotive, 1866

1868: Engineer Scott Russell established a service of railway ferry boats in Lake Constance, Switzerland.

1869: After seven years of merciless work carried by military veterans and Irish and Chinese immigrants, the lines Union Pacific and Central Pacific are united in Utah; this meant the effective union of the East and the West, granting so a great impulse to United States facing its incorporation as one of the worldwide important powers. Argentina inaugurates the line Córdoba-Tucumán. First railway lines in Uruguay. First railway line in Romania, between Bucharest and Giurgiu. Scottish engineer Robert Francis Fairlie built his first articulated locomotive named after him, in which the driving wheels are mounted in pivoting bogies, and which often were built with a double-ended design to facilitate driving in reverse direction.

Wild West locomotive
1870

1870: Niklaus Riggenbach builds the first rack railway operative in Europe, in the slopes of Mount Rigi, in Switzerland.

1871: Excavation of the first Trans-Alpine tunnel in the Mont-Cenis Pass. American inventor George Westinghouse perfected the automatic air-compressed brake. First contract for transporting passengers in the Indian Mail.

1872: Shortly after the derogation of the shogunate, Japan inaugurated its first railway line, between Tokyo and Yokohama.

1873: Mexico inaugurated its first operational railway line between Mexico City and Veracruz. First railway line in Bolivia.

1875

1876: The first commercial railway in China connected Shangai and Wusung.

Locomotive John Bull, 1877

1878: By adapting an old steam ship, it was established a regular ferry boat line of 15 miles for trains, between New York and Cape Charles, in Maryland.

1880

1881: A ferry boat capable of carrying four trains simultaneously started service between San Francisco and Sacramento, in California, a course of 145 kilometers. The British luxury train Brighton Belle becomes the first luxury train in Europe completely fitted with Pullman cars. Introduction in England of the first Pullman car fitted with electric lighting.

1882: French architect Gustave Eiffel builds in France the Garabit Viaduct which reaches a height of 122 meters. Perforation of spiral tunnels in Saint Gothard, Switzerland.

1883: Inauguration of the first great international railway line, the Orient Express.

French locomotive, 1891

1884: The European countries established an international railroad gauge whose value was a tolerance term between 1435 and 1445 millimeters; however to this standard did not adhere Russia, Spain and Ireland. Swiss engineer Anatole Mallet built his first articulated locomotive, in which the fore part is supported by a bogie whose wheels are actuated by low-pressure cylinders, while the main driving wheels are actuated by high-pressure cylinders.

1885

1885: Canada inaugurated the transcontinental railway line between Quebec and Vancouver.

1886: Alfred George de Glehn built the first four-cylinder "Compound" locomotive.

1887: Inauguration of the railway line Sud-Express following the route Paris-Madrid-Lisbon.

British locomotive, 1887

1889: Inauguration of the railway line Moctezuma Special connecting New Orleans and Mexico.

1890

1890: The works for the Trans-Siberian railway line, which should connect Moscow with Vladivostok, were started in Russia.

Mountain locomotive, 1891

1894: A maritime line operated by powerful ferry boats displacing about 1000 tonnes made possible for the first time to pass trains across Lake Michigan; the line ran along 56 miles which were covered in five or six hours.

Snow locomotive, 1897
1895

1897: Ethiopia started the construction of the railway line between Addis Abeba and Djibouti, but only a minor part of the route was completed.

1898: The Republic of the Congo inaugurated the railway line between Matadi and Leopoldville.

1900

1904: End of the works of the Trans-Siberian railway line. Italian manufacturer Ansaldo introduced in the Adriatic lines locomotives fitted with axles that can move sideways relative to the frame, to facilitate cornering.

1905

1905: The steam locomotive M 7002 of the Pennsylvania Railroad allegedly reached a speed of 205 kilometers per hour while dragging the convoy Broadway limited.

1906: Inauguration of the Simplon Tunnel, the longest one in the world, which connects Italy and Switzerland.

1907: Garratt patented his very characteristic system for articulated locomotives; these are divided in three parts, the fore one containing a water tank, the central one being the machine properly said and the rear one containing the tender with coal.

1910 Locomotive type Fairlie, 1910
1915

1916: The Baldwin Company built a gigantic Mallet locomotive fitted with six cylinders and twelve driving axes.

1917: Inauguration of the Trans-Australian railway line.

1918: The armistice of the First World War is signed inside a dining car parked in a sidetrack.

1920

1922: Inauguration of the luxury railway line Calais-Mediterranean-Express, better known as "Le Train Bleu".

1925

1925: The Pioneer Limited train with destination Milwaukee introduced the first car fitted with panoramic view and wireless telegraphy.

1930

1931: Inauguration of the Turkestan–Siberia Railway connecting Almaty and Novosibirsk.

1935

1937: In England a streamlined steam locomotive was inaugurated in honor of the coronation of George VI, covering the line London-Edinburg.

1938: The locomotive "Mallard" achieved a speed record for steam propulsion when reaching 203 kilometers per hour. Construction of the most emblematic of the few Soviet streamlined steam locomotives ever built; the Voroshilovgrad "Blue Streamliner", fitted with two cylinders and three driving axes for large-diameter wheels, was declared "the best Soviet locomotive ever", capable of speeds around 180 kilometers per hour.

Soviet locomotive, 1938
1940

1941: The American Locomotive Company built the first units of the Big Boy, a powerful steam locomotive fitted with four cylinders and eight driving axes.

1942: The Pennsylvania Railroad introduces into service the powerful steam locomotives of the T1 class fitted with four cylinders and four driving axes for wheels of large diameter; this decision was however controversial, since such machines were complex and costly to maintain.

T1 4-4-4-4 Duplex Drive locomotive, 1942
1945
1950
1955 Beyer-Garratt locomotive, 1956
1960
1965
Electric
1800
1805
1810
1815
1820
1825
1830
1835
1840
1845
1850
1855
1860
1865
1870
1875

1879: German engineer Werner von Siemens effectuated in Berlin the first demonstration of the viability of electric locomotion during an industrial exposition.

Siemens electric train, 1879
1880

1880: American inventor Frank Julian Sprague built in 1880 an electric railway for a mining gallery with the purpose of avoiding the health problems caused by steam machines in underground facilities. in France, a laundry company started to make use of electric trains to gather the sheets from the fields in which they were whitened.

1881: German engineer Werner Von Siemens built the first important electric tramcar. The rails supplied electricity directly to the motors through the wheels. However, the pedestrians and horses that stepped into the rails suffered electric shocks, so this type of tramcar did not last much, and was later perfected by introducing electricity supply through overhead cables and trolleys.

1883: New York inaugurated an electric tramcar line which took the electricity from a third rail.

1885

1885: Frank Julian Sprague introduced the first electric tramcar which took the electricity from overhead lines.

1890

1890: The advent of electric locomotives allowed the construction of deeper subway galleries.

1895

1895: The State of Maryland established an electric railway that passed through the Baltimore Tunnel, in Chesapeake Bay; the locomotive, fitted with four 360-horsepower motors, had an electricity intake through the third wheel and it weighed 96 tonnes.

1900

1900: Italy inaugurated the first long-distance electric railway line, connecting Lecco and Sondrio, with a total length of 106 kilometers, in which the electricity was supplied by means of overhead cables.

British tramcar, circa 1900

1902: Italy inaugurated the electric railway line connecting Milan and Varese, with a total distance of 60 kilometers, in which it was used a third rail to supply the electricity.

British locomotive, 1904
1905
1910
1915
1920
1925
1930
1935
1940

1942: Spanish engineer Alejandro Goicoechea designs the system known as TALGO.

1945

1949: The first TALGO train is experimented in United States; the system known as TALGO, specially lightweight, stable and articulated, is one of the most decisive improvements in the modern railway.

1950

1953: The "Settebello", an Italian aerodynamic electric train capable of speeds of 150 kilometers per hour, starts service in the railway line connecting Rome and Milan, route which covers at an average speed of 105 kilometers per hour.

1955
1960

1964: Inauguration of the high-speed electric train "Hikari" in the line Tokyo-Osaka, capable of speeds around 200 kilometers per hour; automatized and remote controlled, this train fullfilled its route with an average speed of 129 kilometers per hour.

1965
Diesel
1800
1805
1810
1815
1820
1825
1830
1835
1840
1845
1850
1855
1860
1865
1870
1875
1880
1885
1890

1892: Rudolph Diesel built the first engine which is named after him.

1895
1900
1905

1906: Presentation in the International Exposition in Milan of the railcar Fiat-Diatto, first vehicle of its kind, in which were reunited in a single wagon the propulsion plant and the passenger department.

1910

1912: The first operative diesel locomotive started service in Germany.

1915
1920
1925

1925: Germany introduced the first Diesel locomotive for great express train, with a power of 1200 horsepower.

1929: The French company Michelin presented its particular railcar, innovative due of being fitted with rubber tires, but unsuccessful in the market.

1930

1930: Germany introduced an experimental railcar propelled by an aircraft engine attached to a rear propeller, capable of speeds of about 230 kilometers per hour, but which finally was deemed as unsuitable for a safe service and retired.

1935

1935: The German Diesel locomotive "Flying Hamburger" beats the speed record for locomotives of its type hitting 214 kilometers per hour.

1937: Italian company Fiat introduced the railcar "Littorina", vehicle which knew great success in Europe and North America.

1940
1945
1950 Canadian Pacific diesel-electric locomotive
1955 French diesel-electric locomotive
1960
1965

Locomotive cutaways

The first Hikari train

The steam locomotive

Steam locomotives
Typology

Locomotive Stamps
Leaders of the World

American locomotives

Australian locomotives

British locomotives
(19th century)

British locomotives
(20th century)

Canadian locomotives

French locomotives

German locomotives

Japanese locomotives

Other locomotives

Railway Timeline
Archetypical locomotives by lustrum

Railway Timeline
Archetypical locomotives by year

Railway Timeline
Steam locomotives by lustrum

Railway Timeline
Steam locomotives by year

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Non-steam locomotives by lustrum

Railway Timeline
Non-steam locomotives by year

Railway Timeline
American locomotives

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Asian locomotives

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British Commonwealth locomotives

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European locomotives