History Of Trains

History Of Trains

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Never Despise The Small Beginnings Of The Train!


From the starting point when trains were first invented, many different types of engines where created to find out which one would work the best.

It was from this period in time, circa 1760, that Steam Engine Trains were first engineered.

But let’s not forget the humble beginnings of how the train evolved!  Let’s backtrack a bit, similar to shunting – but more on that another time!

Wooden Coal Cart And Horse https://trainloversparadise.com

It started when it was considered that shanks pony, horse riding and donkeys were considered too slow to transport bigger and heavier items from one destination to another.

Enter the wooden planks on wheels, running on two wooden parallel rails built from one point to another to run continuously without hindrance.

Cocopan Mining https://trainloversparadise.com

One of the main items transported in the 16th Century that brought this about, was coal from the coal mines.  The coal was transported in coco-pans which ran on wooden rails in and out of the mine, first made of wood and later made of cast iron.

It wasn’t until the mid 18th Century that plates of cast iron were used to reinforce the surface of wooden railways.

At this point in time an upgrade for the mode of transportation was needed in order to transport extremely heavy and long steel bars for which the wooden planks and wooden coco-pans did not suffice and they were very slow.

Enter The Age Of The Steam Engine Train!


Steam Engine Train https://trainloversparadise.com

This invention was inspired by the steam engine used to pump water out of mines. The Steam Engine Train had an added feature of being able to power a wheel instead of the wheel running freely and having to be empowered by human beings.

As engines go, there needs to be a piston in play and the engineers improved the construction of boilers so that high-pressured steam could directly move a piston.

At the start of the 19th Century, the first railway steam engine was built, and thus ensued the first railway journey by steam engine train.

Quite a few new inventions came about at this time, to name a few who invented:

  • Richard Trevithick – England – First Steam Engine Train Invented
  • Matthew Murray – England – Salamanca Twin Cylinder
  • Christopher Blackett and William Hedley – Puffing Billy Adhesion Only
  • George Stephenson – Bluecher / Locomotion / Rocket With Flanged Wheel Adhesion

You have to keep in mind that these Steam Engine Trains were humongous in size and because they were made of iron, they were extremely heavy to say the least.

These trains became world renown and George Stephenson became highly famous because of his inventions.  Transporting goods became a lot easier and the engines became bigger and more powerful.

Many were the joys and highlights of the Steam Engine Trains and enjoyed by all, however, there were downsides and the main one was pollution.

Enter The Age Of The Electric Powered Engine Trains!


Electric Train Wires Overhead https://trainloversparadise.com

It was therefore a great welcome in the 1830’s when Robert Davidson of Scotland invented the first Electric Train powered by galvanic battery cells.  He named his largest electric train Galvani after the type of batteries used.

This new electric train could haul 6 tons travelling at 6km per hour for 2km. Tragically, this new invention was vandalized as it posed a threat to railway employees.

Enter The Age Of The Tramway Trains!

In Berlin 1879 Werner Von Siemens built the first electric tramway.

Electric Tramway https://trainloversparadise.com

This was powered by overhead electric wire suspended all the way along the track from the station to the intended destination.

The 19th Century also saw great inventive talent coming from the United States of America.  Frank Sprague designed and pioneered the Richmond Union Passenger Railway with electric trolleys.

Enter The Age Of The Underground Subways!

Emerging as one of the more popular modes of transport were underground subways, obviously steam engine trains were out of the question due to pollution, so the next best solution was to use electricity.

Underground Subway Tunnel https://trainloversparadise.com

This proved very popular with subway trains and street trams.

Some noteworthy inventors of Electric Trains are:

  • Charles Brown – Switzerland – Electric Long Distance 3 Phase AC
  • Kalman Kando – Hungarian – 3 Phase Tramway Electric Motors and Generators

For SNCF fans, it is interesting to note here at this point in time that the evolving invention of AC Traction eventually resulted in the current day SNCF.

As the world evolved and there were different commodities invented for powering various forms of engines, petroleum and diesel were fast becoming popular in comparison to steam run engines.

Enter The Age Of The Diesel Powered Engine Trains!


Diesel Engine Goods Train https://trainloversparadise.com

Diesel powered engines were introduced in about 1888 when William Priestman designed a prototype of a combustion engine using diesel.

It wasn’t until 1906 when Rudolf Diesel and others began to build diesel engines for trains.  The first diesel engine train’s journey came about in 1912 in Switzerland.

Great Diesel Engine Trains to take note of are:

  • Diesel-Sulzer-Klose – Switzerland – Diesel Powered Locomotive
  • Hermann Lemp – Germany – Diesel-Electric Locomotives

As with all things, trains evolved quickly over time and the race was on to see who could make it bigger, better and more powerful.

Enter The Age Of The High-Speed Rail Engine Trains!


High Speed Rail https://trainloversparadise.com

The brilliant minds of the far eastern countries came into play in the mid 20th Century.  They had been taking part in this unspoken competition and they came up with High-Speed Rail which was introduce in 1964. Today they celebrate 54 years since their invention of Tokaido Shinkansen.

The age old adage of humanity following the path of least resistance lives on through the ages as Aeroplane Flights took over the ever popular Passenger Liner services, so High-Speed Rail took over short Aeroplane Flights as it was quicker and easier.

Enter The Age Of The Maglevs!


Maglev Train https://trainloversparadise.com


Even faster and better and way above our expectations is the Maglev – short for Magnetic Levitation.  All this means is that the train hovers above a monorail driven by the force of magnets which elevate it.

These trains are among the fastest trains out there and arguably, they are not really trains.  Many people enjoy the fast paced life and need to be doing so much before their life ends that they revel and thrive on the speed of the Maglevs today.

Are Hydro Trains The Next Best Mode Of Transport?


Hydro Train
Credit Given To Alstom For Picture

A point to mull over, are Hydro Trains the next best thing in our world where we try to be bio-friendly and save the world from pollution?  What are your thoughts?  Leave your comments below we’d love to hear from you!

Nostalgia creeps in with each one of these eras as one looks back and wonders what life would have been like in those days.

There are many transport and train museums that will help you to relive that memory, there are even some of those trains still operating today that you may be able to take your great rail journey on today!

Take your time to visit our website, maybe you’ll find one of those trains available to help your dreams come true at Train Lovers Paradise!

16 thoughts on “History Of Trains

  1. Very good article covering the beginning of train development to the present day designs. 

    I actually have driven some switchengines at my job moving our railcars around our yard. The first one was built in 1946 but was still in service until the early 2000’s.

    I live in Texas and it is interesting seeing the differences between the European trains and those in the United States.

    Thanks for sharing this information,


    1. Thank you Chad for your kind words and for sharing your own experience with us.

      That’s great to know that you’ve actually driven some switchengines at your job!  If I’m ever in the vicinity, may I pop and in a hitch a ride with you and you can explain all the dials and mechanisms to me as we drive along?  That would be a wonderful train trip! 🙂

      Yes!  You are so right.  The differences in European and US trains is quite significant, as are Russian and Australian trains.  I’ve noticed this in my game Train Station by Pixelfederation – as soon as I’ve collected a new train in the game, I read up on it and increase my knowledge of trains.

      Hope to actually meet you some day Chad!  Thank you for making a train stop here!

      The Train Conductor

  2. Technology has evolved into something that gives a solution to the issue of traffic because of vehicle congestion on every road.

    I’m pleased to see a site that gives a history to the developments of one of the best land transport system on earth. 

    This is also the best when it comes to environmental friendly technology since as of this time it is powered by a magnet.

    1. Yes, Abagatan, technology is moving faster than ever today, just like the Maglev trains are by magnet and we would do well to keep up! 🙂

      Thank you for your good words and encouragement on the history of the train, I tried to cover each phase simply so one could see an overall view of how trains have developed throughout the ages and still continues to evolve.

  3. Hi Train Conductor, this is a very interesting page with lots of information on the evolution of trains throughout the years, isn’t it amazing how advanced they are today when only a short 50 years ago i sat on my veranda watching steam trains load and unload at the station across. The history of trains and how you layed out entering the ages is well done makes for a very informative article. You are obviously a train enthusiast and in my hometown we have a restored Purry Steam Tram in fully working condition. I believe it is the only one in the world, you may like to take a look at it on you-tube.

    Thanks for a really relaxing read, Shane.

    1. That is so true Shane!  It is quite mind boggling that we gave such credit and awe to those magnificent strong and robust Steam Engines and today we have a Bullet Train and Maglevs that are so much faster.

      My how time flies!

      Thank you so much for your valuable input about the Purry Steam Tram on YouTube!  I’ll definitely take a look!

      The Train Conductor

  4. Hi, how are you? I loved your post, it’s amazing how the trains have evolved. Let me tell you a bit about how it is around here, I live in Paraguay and according to history, Paraguay was the first country to implement the rail or train in South America, we also had the first steel factory in the region, unfortunately after the war against the triple alliance (a war in which Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay fought against Paraguay), the iron factory was destroyed and the trains ended. Right now we no longer have and I never had the opportunity to travel in one.

    1. Hi Paola!  I’m glad to meet you and to read of the history of trains in Paraguay.

      It’s great to have an enthusiast from Paraguay make a train stop here!

      Your informative fact about Paraguay being the first country to implement rail or trains in South America is most intriguing.

      It’s a shame the steel factory was destroyed by the war and ended the journey of trains in your country.  This is so sad.  Perhaps you will have an opportunity in the future to travel on a train in a nearby country.

      Thank you for sharing this with us, much appreciated.

      The Train Conductor

  5. It’s really amazing how trains have evolved, and how quickly they can get you to your destination.  I loved reading about the history of trains, and have learned quite a bit.  Whenever I go on holidays to Germany, we always take the ICE train to reach our destination, it’s so much faster and more relaxing than driving by car.  I would love to go to a train museum, I think it would be really fascinating to see.  I will definitely be checking out the rest of your website.  Thanks for sharing.


    1. I have to agree, the trains in Germany are amazing!  Quick, punctual, clean and the service is superb.

      You are right train museums create loads of fascination and I know that I can’t get enough of it when I visit a museum.  It is just so intriguing and I try and take in every detail I can because that helps me understand how they operated in their day.

      Thank you for making a train stop here on your train journey across the world!

      The Train Conductor

  6. I was surprised that the train evolved from a horse driven one until to the latest modern technology.
    Your interest is so crucial in our time, we need to solve the traffic issues as of these times. Every road is congested with vehicles of all sorts.
    Train is the only one that can lead people effectively in their works and engagements.

    1. Yes, it is amazing how technology has advanced from such a simple beginning. Trains are definitely an integral part of our everyday travel all over the world and they are quick, efficient and in some countries save a lot of travel time.

      As you so aptly put it, traffic is congested these days as there are more and more cars on the roads with the world population increasing at a rapid rate.

      I agree with you that they will probably be the most sought after mode of transport in the future.

      Thank you for taking the time to visit our site and for your thought provoking comment.

  7. What a nice read about trains. I love innovation that is tied to our history as modern human and I am pretty sure that Sheldon (from the Big Bang) would love this piece as well 🙂 My favorite version is probably the steam engine train because it’s so often found in storybooks that I grew up with. Even Harry Potter has it. I wonder if there’s any big train museums in the world that’s worth visiting…

    1. Thank you Cathy for your kind words.  I believe there are many train museum worldwide that are worth visiting.  You’ve just given me a great idea for a blog to list Worldwide Train Museums to visit!

      The Train Conductor

  8. Hi it’s great to meet a train enthusiast like yourself. I went to the science museum in London with my son recently and we saw how the first steam engines were created and I must say from then to now is amazing to see what has been achieved. Thanks, Kenny 

    1. I can relate to visiting museums in London and I can remember how enthralled I was with what had been achieved too! 

      Those steam trains are so magnificent and majestic, there is nothing that compares to them!

      I marvel every time I’m up close to any of them as they look so strong, powerful and like they could overcome anything!

      Thank you for stopping by to comment!  I wish you more wonderful encounters on your museum journeys worldwide.

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