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History of the Railway - Part II: 1835-1915

Friedrich List designed an all-German railway network in 1833

Previous Part: History of the Railroad - Part I: Early 17th Century - 1835

Friedrich List designed a German railway network as early as 1833. The first German railway line between Nuremberg and Fürth went into operation on December 7, 1835 with the famous “Adler” locomotive (Bavarian Ludwig Railway). The first railway in Prussia was the Berlin-Potsdam Railway, which overcame 14 km from Zehlendorf to Potsdam and continued to Berlin a few months later. From December 1, 1838, the Duke Brunswick State Railroad operated between Braunschweig and Wolfenbüttel. The Düsseldorf-Elberfeld Railway, opened on December 20, 1838 with the Düsseldorf – Erkrath section, was the first steam railway in the Rhineland and the Prussian Rhine Province.

The first German long-distance route (Leipzig - Dresden) was built at the instigation of Friedrich List and opened in 1839. It had a route length of 120 kilometers and the first railway tunnel in Germany, the Oberauer Tunnel. Andreas Schubert builds the first “Saxonia” locomotive built in Germany. Political reasons were problematic for a faster development of the railways in Germany. The German Reich was split up into several smaller nation states, each of which had traffic sovereignty. So there was no common movement to establish the railroad in Germany. Furthermore, Germany was still an agricultural country with a partly low level of industrialization. This technical deficit compared to England and France as well as the permanent capital shortage of willing investors prevented the faster development of an all-German railway network.

In other European countries - especially in England - and the USA, development is progressing rapidly at the same time:

In 1838 the first rail mail car was put into operation in England, and the foundations for railway safety were laid with the development of railway telegraphy. The first rail ferry service in England was established in 1851, and Pullman built the first sleeping car as early as 1858. The only thing missing is the dining car. This was first used in the USA in 1863. In 1870 Westinghouse developed the air brake, in 1885 the first bogie was presented by Krauss and Helmholtz. The world's first superheated steam locomotive was built in 1898 and Knorr developed the first rapid brake in 1900. However, technical development did not stop there: Föttinger developed the transmission in 1905, and the first battery lighting was introduced in 1910.

At that time, the German railway network had also reached a certain size. Before 1870, many state and private railways existed side by side. As a result of the unification of the empire, work was carried out on a comprehensive nationalization of the railway sector. In 1873 the first Reich Railway Office was to be founded. In order to build an all-German railway network, the Reich planned to buy the state railways from the federal states. However, this failed due to the resistance of the countries. Thereupon Prussia attempted to buy up private railways from other countries. In response, many countries nationalized the private railways in order to remove them from Prussian influence. This resulted in eight large regional railroad administrations: Baden, Bavaria, Saxony, Württemberg, Hesse, Alsace-Lorraine, Mecklenburg and Oldenburg.