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History of trains

A replica of the first full-scale working railway steam locomotive, called the “Coalbrookdale Locomotive”. It was built by...Read More >>A replica of the first full-scale working railway steam locomotive, called the “Coalbrookdale Locomotive”. It was built by Richard Trevithick in 1802. On 21st February 1804 the world's first railway journey took place as Trevithick's steam locomotive hauled a train along the tramway from the Pen-y-darren ironworks, near Merthyr Tydfil, to Abercynon in South Wales. A train is a vehicle that runs on guide rails: a railway track. Miners have used simple wooden or iron railways called wagon-ways for hundreds of years to move rock, coal and ore in trucks. The trucks were pulled and pushed by animals or the miners themselves. The first locomotive powered by a steam engine was built in 1804 by English engineer Richard Trevithick, to haul trucks at an ironworks. The first passenger railway was the Stockton and Darlington Railway in England, which opened in 1825.

A painting of the Middleton Railway, featuring the Salamanca, the first successful steam locomotive, built in 1812

The first trains

The first steam locomotive to run on rails was built by Richard Trevithick. His four-wheel locomotive made a demonstration run on 22nd February 1804, reaching 20 km/h (12 mph) when empty and 8 km/h (5 mph, a brisk walking-pace) when loaded. Unfortunately, the weight of the train broke the rails. By 1812, stronger tracks had been built between Middleton Colliery and Leeds, England. They carried the first successful steam locomotives.
Stephenson's rocketIn 1829, while the new Liverpool and Manchester Railway was being built in northern England, a competition was held to find the best locomotive to run along it. The £500 prize was won easily by the Rocket, entered by George and Robert Stephenson. It reached the then breathtaking speed of 46.7 km/h (29 mph)—a world record—and its design was used to make all later steam locomotives. For the first time, people would be able to travel on land faster than by horse. Soon there were railways and locomotives all over the world.

The earliest passenger steam trains were converted horse-drawn carriages. Rich passengers sat in relative comfort inside the carriages. Poorer passengers sat outside on the top of the carriages and would be covered in smoke.

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