Pointing to an actual or uniform date that marks the beginning of the history of railways in Europe is impossible. This is so because different European countries, such as Britain, Germany, Russia, and France, all had their own historical records for rail transportations. Nevertheless, since the greatest boom of railways transportation started in Britain before spreading to the other parts of Europe, we can say that we have a standing point. So going by Great Britain in 1840-1900, it can be deduced that the two important factors for the innovation of railways are; the prevailing wars of the 19th century and the first-ever massive advancement in technology.
Starting by the earliest design of railways, the first designs used steam engines. And the first railway to be approved by Great Britain parliament goes by the name; Stockton and Darlington railway. The locomotive of this railway was designed by engineer Stephen and it travelled 40km long carrying both passengers and freights in after construction in1825.
Previous to that event, steam engine-driven railways weren’t approved for two reasons. And these two observations lead to a landmark improvement. For one, the previous oscillation motion of steam engines that cold drives the wheels of trains was improved for rotary motion. This improvement was achieved by James Watt’s Sun and Planet gear invention which created a connection between the wheels of the train and the piston for forwarding drive. On the other hand, the second improvement was inspired by the need for a stronger iron to withstand the needed pressure for driving steam locomotions. This improvement, achieved in 1876, came place through the making of the rolling and puddling iron casting process that removes impurities from cast iron, thereby making it stronger, less brittle, and of less expansion to heat or heightened temperature.
Fast-forward to 1830, Engineer Stephen pioneered the establishment of a more advanced rail transport system known today as the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. It was an exception for its use of an all-new locomotive termed Rocket. This new locomotive gained worldwide attention and thus marked the beginning of railroad transport worldwide by 1939. As of this period, Great Britain had increased its railroad lines to 1, 500km.
Other European Countries
In Germany, the need for railway transportation was brought to the limelight in the 1830s. Fredrich List and other Economists, together with British capital investors in Germany came together in industrialized areas and mine-rich states. Therefore, the first 2 rails were constructed in 1825 and 1827; a 6km railroad in Bavaria and a long-distance railroad in Saxony.
Similarly, in Russia, the construction of railroads was embarked upon in the 1830s to combat the prevailing transportation problems. And between 1834 and 1836, 20 steam engines coupled with 3.5 kilometres of railroads were already built.
Finally, taking after Great Britain, France built its first railroad three years after Great Britain’s first railroad, and this took place in 1827. France started with short mineral lines in the 1820s and 1830s and later received legalization for main railroad constructions in 1842.