The combination of the steam engine and the rail at the beginning of the 19th century contributed tremendously to man's possibilities of high-speed travel. As early as 1854, trains travelled at a commercial speed of about 60 km/h, as against 6.5 km/h for the stage coaches of 1840. Until the end of the century, the steam engine was practically the main instrument of the striving for higher speeds. After initial tentative efforts, between 1845 and 1855, between 1887 and 1907, and then between 1932 and 1938 the greatest progress was made in improving the rate of travel of trains, as well as the haulage loads. Toward the end of the 19th century appeared electric traction, followed by heat-engine locomotion toward 1930: diesel locomotive and rail-cars began to appear on non-electric lines. After the second World War, higher speeds and loads were achieved for all types of traction. In 1955, the experimental record of 331 km/h was set with electric traction. The steam engine, with its low energy efficiency, was gradually replaced. Electric and diesel locomotives continued to improve their performance. The gas turbine, develop initially for aeronautics, was adatped for railway traction toward 1965. Train speeds on all the railways of the world are constantly improving, and research is continuing for even faster rail-travel possibilities.

  • Corporate Authors:

    Federation Nationale des Trav Publ & des Synd Aff

    6 Avenue Pierre Premier de Serbie
    Paris 16e,   France 
  • Authors:
    • Nicolas, P
  • Publication Date: 1973-8


  • French

Media Info

  • Pagination: p. 10-13
  • Serial:
    • Travaux
    • Publisher: Federation Nationale des Trav Publ & des Synd Aff

Subject/Index Terms

  • TRT Terms: High speed rail; History
  • Subject Areas: History; Operations and Traffic Management; Passenger Transportation; Railroads;

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00050596
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Federation Nationale des Trav Publ & des Synd Aff
  • Report/Paper Numbers: No. 461-462
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jan 31 1976 12:00AM