Friday July 20th, 2018
The look of the engine house has been fully revised and now reflects each era. We’d like to take this opportunity to shed some light on the fascinating history of the locomotive.
Hop on board, please!
Mind the steps. Down the aisle on the left. On the right is the door to your cabin. Head on in, stow away your luggage and take a seat. Time to relax. Now lay back, rest your head on the cushion, stretch out your legs, place your arms on the armrests and have a look out the window. We’ll now begin our Rail Nation journey through history.
Around 1825 – 1925
Night falls, but there’s no darkness. Light still glimmers from the factories where large plumes of smoke rise above the city. Industrialisation will change humanity forever.
In the north-east of England, between Stockton and Darlington, the first ever passenger transport takes place in 1825. It is hauled by the engine named ‘No. 1’ on the railway track initiated by Edward Pease. Close to the tracks, there are clusters of people marvelling and cheering as history is being made.
In a different corner of the world, thousands head to the rivers to try their luck in the recently discovered gold fields. The 19th-century gold rush has fully gripped the USA.
The DeWitt Clinton is the first scheduled US engine, entering service in 1831 and travelling between Albany and Schenectady at a tremendous speed of 50 km/h. Passengers sit both within the carriage-like waggons as well as on top of them – a trend that doesn’t survive long in light of the steam-powered engines. In the same year, the first line on the European continent, Saint-Étienne – Lyon, opens in France.
In Belgium, the first steam engine enters service between Brussels and Mechelen in 1835. Soon after, a national railway network is built, which, until the middle of the 19th century, is considered the densest railway network on the continent. Our oldest engine, the Eagle, is also born.
Following the American Civil War, the railway industry becomes the second largest industry in America. People like Edward Henry Harriman or Cornelius Vanderbilt rise as railway tycoons. One of the most prevalent engines of this time is the USARA 0-6-0.
Around 1920 – 1950
The 20th century starts with a terrible bang: the First World War devastates nations and significantly changes the course of history.
Reconstruction also affects the railways. Just like the cities, the need for transport, as well as the steam engines themselves, grows. The engine house adapts as a result: wooden beams make way for modern steal beams.
In 1938, the Mallard of the production series LNER-Class A4 sets a speed record for steam engines that remains unbeaten today: 201.2 km/h.
But before humanity can recover from the First World War, the Second World War breaks out. Europe’s trains are once again used in war.
The history of engines develops more positively elsewhere. The PRR-Class T1 becomes one of the world’s most powerful and fastest steam engines in 1942.
South of the equator, things also move ahead. The engines of the NSWGR-Class AD60 mainly transport coal and ore across Australia and, in 1952, are the heaviest steam engines in the southern hemisphere.
Despite all the events, the rise of the engine becomes unstoppable as we approach the next era.