Rail transport is nowadays being widely used in many countries across the world. It is the type of transport in which people and goods are carried over long distances. The rails on which they run are also known as tracks. These tracks are commonly made of steel. This is the safest form of transportation.
Many people prefer railways over the road transport because of the increase in the number of accidents and huge traffic congestions. They are also less expensive compared to the other modes of transport. The tourists in countries like U.S, Australia, etc., travel via the trains to visit the different places across the country. Foldable bed, meals, etc., are also provided on the trains to increase the comfort levels of the people.
History of railways
The railways originated in the 6th century B.C in Greece. The wheeled vehicles were pulled by animals and people during that time. Later in the 14th century, wooden rails were constructed in Austria on which, the wheeled vehicles were pulled by people or animals. This is considered to be the first version of rail transport in the history of railways.
In 1604, the Wollaton Wagonway was constructed by Huntingdon Beaumont. Some people erroneously refer to this as the earliest British railways. Later, in 1758, the Middleton Railways were developed in Leeds, England. This is the known as the world’s oldest operational railway. The first railways in the U.S were built in the year 1764 in Lewiston, New York.
The use of steam engines and metal rails became prevalent in the 18th century after the advent of the industrialization. The first steam locomotive was built in the year 1804 in the UK by Richard Trevithick.
Later in the year 1837, the first electric locomotive was built by using the galvanic cells by Robert Davidson in Greece. In the 20th century, diesel-electric trains also came into existence.
Many further developments happened in the field of railways after the 18th century. Today, there are also electrified high-speed rails which run in many developed countries.
The Importance of Railways
- Railways help in the transportation of heavy goods which cannot be easily transported via the motor vehicles.
- This mode of transportation is important in the process of industrialization as it helps to transport coal and other raw materials at a cheaper rate.
- Railways help in the immediate transportation of materials to the different places in case of emergencies.
- It is the safest form of transportation. The number of accidents is less in the rail transportation compared to the other modes of transport.
- The passengers will be protected from sun, rain, snow, etc., in these modes of transport.
- Any number of goods and passengers can be transferred via trains. Hence, its capacity can be increased depending on the situations.
- Many people depend on this mode of transport to travel to the remote places where the road transport is not very common.
- This is the cheapest mode of transport.
Whether the railways are important or not is still a topic of debate in many countries. People who are against this mode of transport argue that this mode transport requires a huge investment of capital. The maintenance of the trains and the rails can also incur huge losses to our economy. Another disadvantage of the railways is that their routes and timings are usually not flexible, which may not be convenient for all the people.
Moreover, unlike the motor vehicles, the rail transport cannot offer any door-to-door delivery of the items, which can be a hassle at times. This mode of transport is also not considered to be economical for short distance travels. As it requires huge capital, there are some rural areas where the rail transport has not yet been implemented.
Also, if the sufficient number of passengers and goods do not use this rail transport, all the capital invested in the construction and maintenance of the trains will become a waste. This will also affect the economy of a country adversely.
Railways, hence, like any other mode of transport have both advantages and disadvantages. Nowadays, people have started using this mode of transport irrespective of its disadvantages. This is the best mode of transport for the public in the developing countries as they are very cheap. The comfort level offered by the current generation trains also cannot be compared with any other transportation facility. The governments are also trying to increase the number of trains and railway routes to help the people even in rural areas. Hence, railways are very important in the current world for both the developing and the developed countries.