Including systems with man or horse power, and tracks or guides made of stone or wood, the history of rail transport dates back as far as the ancient Greeks.
Wagonways were relatively common in Europe (typically in mining) from about 1500 through 1800. Mechanised rail transport systems first appeared in England in the 1820s. These systems, which made use of the steam locomotive, were critical to the Industrial Revolution and to the development of export economies across the world. They have remained the primary form of land transport ever since for most of the world.
Wagonways and tramways
Reduction in friction was one of the major reasons for the success of railroads compared to wagons. This was demonstrated on an iron plate-covered wooden tramway in 1805 at Croydon in England.
The earliest evidence found so far of a wagonway, a predecessor of the railway, is of the 6 to 8.5km long Diolkos wagonway, which transported boats across the Isthmus of Corinth in Greece from around 600 BC. Wheeled vehicles pulled by men and animals ran in grooves in limestone, which provided the track element, preventing the wagons from leaving the intended route. The Diolkos was in use for over 650 years, until at least the 1st century AD. The first horse-drawn wagonways also appeared in ancient Greece, with others to be found on Malta and various parts of the Roman Empire, using cut-stone tracks. They fell into disuse as the Roman Empire collapsed.
It is also commonly referred to as train transport. In contrast to road transport, where vehicles run on a prepared flat surface, rail vehicles are also directionally guided by the tracks on which they run. Track usually consists of steel rails, installed on ties (sleepers) and ballast, on which the rolling stock, usually fitted with metal wheels, moves. Other variations are also possible, such as slab track where the rails are fastened to a concrete foundation resting on a prepared subsurface.
Rolling stock in railway transport systems generally has lower frictional resistance when compared with highway vehicles and the passenger and freight cars (carriages and wagons) can be coupled into longer trains. The operation is carried out by a railway company, providing transport between train stations or freight customer facilities. Power is provided by locomotives which either draw electric power from a railway electrification system or produce their own power, usually by diesel engines. Most tracks are accompanied by a signalling system. Railways are a safe land transport system when compared to other forms of transport. Railway transport is capable of high levels of passenger and cargo utilization and energy efficiency, but is often less flexible and more capital-intensive than highway transport is, when lower traffic levels are considered.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
History (from Greekἱστορία, historia, meaning "inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study of the past, particularly how it relates to humans. It is an umbrella term that relates to past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of information about these events. Scholars who write about history are called historians. Events occurring prior to written record are considered prehistory.
History can also refer to the academic discipline which uses a narrative to examine and analyse a sequence of past events, and objectively determine the patterns of cause and effect that determine them. Historians sometimes debate the nature of history and its usefulness by discussing the study of the discipline as an end in itself and as a way of providing "perspective" on the problems of the present.
Stories common to a particular culture, but not supported by external sources (such as the tales surrounding King Arthur), are usually classified as cultural heritage or legends, because they do not show the "disinterested investigation" required of the discipline of history.Herodotus, a 5th-century BC Greek historian is considered within the Western tradition to be the "father of history", and, along with his contemporary Thucydides, helped form the foundations for the modern study of human history. Their works continue to be read today, and the gap between the culture-focused Herodotus and the military-focused Thucydides remains a point of contention or approach in modern historical writing. In Asia, a state chronicle, the Spring and Autumn Annals was known to be compiled from as early as 722 BC although only 2nd century BC texts survived.
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