フランス鉄道史ドイツ鉄道史英国鉄道史History of Japanese Railwayアメリカ鉄道史

HISTORY OF GREAT BRITAIN

Great Britain's network of roads was somewhat poor, as compared to those in other European countries, and the primary means of transportation was by river or canal, until the last half of the 18th Century. As new industries developed, the need for raw materials increased and new mines were opened. This created a demand for a better means of transportation of minerals from the mines to the factories especially since the canal system was not reliable door in dry seasons. Better roads were developed and the idea of a railway was conceived with power being supplied by animals. Thus, mine operators engendered the construction of the first railways in Great Britain for the haulage of minerals and, following this, public passenger railways were built using the horse as the primary source of power. During the first quarter of the 19th Century, Britain developed steam locomotives to power the railways and this was the vital contribution which led to the expansion of heavy industry and its associated ability to produce wealth.

George Stephenson is often referred to as the "Father of British Railways" and, while he deserves much credit for bringing steam powered railways into existence, their parentage was much too complex to be credited to one person since it involved both the development of the locomotive as well as the railway system. Names such as Thomas Savery, Thomas Newcomen and James Watt must be celebrated for their contributions to the development of the steam engine while that of Richard Trevithick should be credited for his contributions and ingenuity in early locomotive design. In 1800, Trevithick began experimenting and designed several successful steam locomotives. Unfortunately, he did not realize much commercial success from his efforts since horses were on inexpensive and readily available source of power however in June of 1812, the world's first successful steam railway began operation at the Middleton Colliery in Leeds using locomotives built by Matthew Murray along the lines of Trevithick's patents. Steam powered roads soon followed at other mines and on Tuesday, September 27, 1825, the Stockton and Darlington Railway, which was the world's first public steam powered line, was officially opened. If had originally been planned to operate this line using horses as motive power but steam won out. By October 10, 1825, regular passenger service was offered by the S&D. The famous Rainhill Trials of 1829, established George Stephenson, and his son Robert, as the world's most brilliant steam locomotive designers; their locomotive, ROCKET, which won the trials by significantly outperforming all other entries, became the model for future development. New lines began to spring up everywhere as public enthusiasm for the new high technology mode of transportation grew. The opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway on September 15, 1830, marked one of mankind's greatest engineering achievements as it overcame obstacles which even today would be considered formidable.

In 1835, the Great Western Railway was opened utilizing a track gauge of 2140 mm, (approximately seven feet), which had been adopted by the GWR's visionary engineer Isambard K. Brunei. He hoped to show the superiority of this gauge from a standpoint of speed, stability and roominess of coach interiors, to the 1435 mm gauge, (4 foot 8 1/2 inches), which had been recommended by George Stephenson. In 1848, Brunei succeeded in attaining a speed of 100 km/hr with the locomotive GREAT BRITAIN which had been designed by Daniel Gooch. However in the same year, T.R. Crampton, who worked under Daniel Gooch, attained the speed of 126 km/hr on 4 foot 8 1/2 inch gauge track using a locomotive fitted with large driving wheels. This "Crampton Type" locomotive became the basis for the design of future 4 foot 8 1/2 inch gauge express locomotives thus ending Brunei's dream of his 7 foot gauge becoming the standard.

By 1850, a vast net of railway lines crossed Great Britain and locomotives continued to improve both in speed and power. Unfortunately, operating at the cutting edge of technology also unveiled new problems when phenomena such as metal fatigue occurred. This resulted in axle failures and caused many accidents until better design details, such as avoiding sharp corners on members subjected to repeated loads, were employed. Advances were also made in the understanding of thermodynamics which led to better boiler and cylinder configurations since design decisions could be made on quantitative comparisons rather than merely instinct.

Unfortunately, rail gauge had not been standardized among the railways and it was not until the later part of the 19th Century that 4 foot 8 1/2 inches was selected as being the nation's standard. This was the gauge supposedly used by George Stephenson for his first colliery railways and recommended by him for the standard however it is interesting to note that the actual gauge of the colliery lines was 4 foot 8 inches and there is no known record which explains the addition of the extra 1/2 inch. It is possible that Stephenson felt that the extra width would provide a small increment of additional lateral stability and simply recommended 4 foot 8 1/2 inches based on his judgment. The GWR altered their 7 foot gauge line, which consisted of 275 km of track, to the new standard in only three days. Later, the GWR attained a speed of 163 km/hr with their special mail train TRURO. Steam locomotives were enjoying their most glorious days.

During WW, the railways came under government control; after the war, the railways experienced a severe economic slump and in 1923, approximately 120 companies were organized into four regional groups; London, Midland and Scottish Railways, (LMS), London and North Eastern Railways, (LNER), Great Western Railways, (GWR), and Southern Railways, (SR). Economic problems continued to plague the companies, with the exception of the Great Western, however the consolidation resulted in standard locomotive types, liveries and prices and introduced many famous express locomotives. The LMS introduced the ROYAL SCOT in 1927 and Stanier's DUCHESS in 1939. The LNER presented Gresley's A-1 Class in 1922 and A-4 Class in 1938. The GWR launched their CASTLE Class in 1923 and KING Class in 1925 while the SR began operation of their KING ARTHUR Class in 1923 and SCHOOLS Class in 1933.

The railways once again were put under government control at the beginning of WWand remained that way after its conclusion. In 1948, the railways were nationalized; the four regional companies and the London Transport Board were united as BRITISH RAILWAYS.

During the 1960s, BRITISH RAILWAYS maintained more than 30000 kilometers of permanent way and employed 570,000 people. Although BR enjoyed a privileged position within the transportation system, its top management never allowed the organization to become stagnant and were constantly on the alert for ways in which to improve. Modernization was an ongoing activity; railway systems in other countries were studied and analyzed. A singularity of British Railways is its possession and operation of both ships and ferries.

Much thought was given to the well being of travelers even in the earliest days of railway operations. In 1839, the first railway hotel was opened at London's Euston station and, up to the 1950s, the Transportation Authority was operating 36 hotels and 363 restaurants at various stations. The service quickly developed to a very high standard and gained an international reputation.

Eventually, steam was no longer a viable source of power for the railways and the need to electrify became apparent for several reasons among which can be listed economic and environmental. The age of steam has ended in Great Britain but its glory will last forever.

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