The uncompleted railway across Northern Siberia was one of the most shameful projects of the post-war era, involving many deaths and huge discomforts. Hailed by Stalin himself as a major part of his 'Great Plan for the Transformation of Nature', the scheme was dropped at his death in 1953. By that time, less than 600 kilometres were in working operation, even though up to 300,000 persons had been involved and about a third of them had perished, while more than 40 billion rubles of capital investment had been wasted. Ghostly labour camps, rusting rolling stock and rails, hundreds of bridges remain in what has been called 'an open air museum of human technology', preserved by nature's refrigerator - the tundra. The article describes the reasons for the railway project and the 'Great Plan', the organization involved, and the conditions in which the enslaved workforce struggled for survival and died.
'The Dead Road' (1947-1953)
Victor L. Mote
Focusing on the wide-ranging scholarship on how railway technology, travel, and infrastructure has affected South Asia‚ this article highlights recent interventions and shifts. It discusses how questions about land‚ labor‚ capital‚ and markets are being increasingly integrated with questions about how railways affected society‚ culture‚ and politics. It also stresses the increasing interest in comparative work‚ both in terms of locating railways within wider structures of transport and mobility as well as analyzing how South Asia’s engagement relates to the global impact of this technology.
In the debates surrounding the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway, the transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railway was used as a model. This article traces how eyewitness accounts of Canadian settlement patterns were used by Russian entrepreneurs to argue the case for the financing and organisation of the Trans-Siberian Railway. Given the tense international political climate at the end of the 19th century, the Trans-Siberian also became a focus for imperial rivalry. This article gives a good overview of comparative colonial enterprise in two great continental colonies.
Dhan Zunino Singh
Considering ‘urban mobility as an important everyday life practice that produces meaning and culture,’ the present review discusses underground railway history in cultural terms. Following Colin Divall and George Revill, culture is understood here as representations and practices, and the underground railway ‘as mediation between the imaginable and the material.’ This review does not cover the prolific literature about this topic, but gathers perspectives from within and beyond transport or mobility history to contribute to a historical and comparative assessment of spatial representations and practices related to the production and uses of this subterranean mode of transport. The sources of these perspectives are Benson Bobrick’s Labyrinths of Iron, Rosalind Williams’s Notes on the Underground, Michael Brooks’s Subway City, David Pike’s Subterranean Cities, and Andrew Jenks’s A Metro of the Mount.
Australian railway historiography, like its railway history and indeed like Australia itself, poses a curious paradox. Why is such a fortunate and civil polity so parochial and so divided geographically? It is now more than 230 years since British colonisation began. Ever since, Australia has been prosperous; relatively egalitarian, at least for its white population; generally free from civil strife; and efficiently and effectively governed. The temperature of its debates and conflicts rarely has risen above levels characterised by civil disobedience and strikes, which have been controlled by police and courts within usual legal frameworks.
Though railway stations originated in nineteenth-century Europe, they have inspired renewed interest worldwide since the 1980s. To be convinced of that suggestion, one need only consider major projects such as Washington DC’s Union Station (1988), Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof (2006), St Pancras International (2007), or the complete renovation of Gare du Nord in Paris since 1998.
To introduce recent historical research on railways in Brazil, the case of one of its states makes a useful example. Concentrating on railway history in São Paulo will permit a more historiographical and thematic point of view. The São Paulo state railway is of particular significance in Brazil. At 4,041 km in 1907, it accounted for more than one-fifth of the total extent of all Brazilian railways (17,605 km), well ahead of runners up in the states of Minas Gerais (3,932 km) and Rio de Janeiro (2,422 km).2 The state of São Paulo also led in cargo transportation. The São Paulo Railway Company alone transported 1.9 million tons of cargo. Among the six most profitable transportation companies in Brazil, four were in São Paulo: São Paulo Railway Company, Sorocabana Railway Company, Paulista Railway Company (Companhia Paulista de Estradas de Ferro) and Mogiana Railway Company (Companhia Mogiana de Estradas de Ferro). Doctoral theses and academic papers on the history of Brazilian railways have grown in the last ten years, and studies of São Paulo predominate.
Hugo Silveira Pereira
This article aims to describe the evolution of Portuguese railway historiography and to speculate on which research trends could be further developed in the future. The author lists and performs a short critical appraisal of some works that illustrate the major lines of research thus far. He then pinpoints areas that could benefit from further research and that could become investigation trends in a near future, despite the budget cuts that universities and research as a whole are currently undergoing.
The invention of railways in the nineteenth century changed the world, displacing older technologies and modifying how humans perceived space and time. Further, the implementation of the railroad coincided with the institutionalization of nation-states in Europe and the Americas. The creation of a nation consisted of three major tasks—formalizing national borders, creating institutions, and capitalizing on the international division of labor. Railways played a major role in each of these endeavors. They played a key role in aiding politicians and entrepreneurs in efforts to achieve specific economic growth and political consolidation. They also structured each country’s territory via infrastructural connection. Argentina and its neighbor countries each experienced these elements of railroad construction.
On 5 December 2009, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, together with
the director-general of the Ferrovie dello Stato (FS), Mauro Moretti,
officially opened the new high-speed/high-capacity railway line, linking
Turin, Milan, and Salerno at the central station in Milan. The
work, which had taken almost 40 years to complete, had involved
the laying of just less than 1,000 kilometers of track that is specially
designed to carry high-speed trains. The following day, the high-speed
train service provided by Trenitalia began operating on the line with
the latest ETR (Elettro Treno Rapido) 500 Frecciarossa and ETR 600
Frecciargento trains. The year 2010, therefore, marked the official
operational start of the project that had first been drawn up by FS in
the early 1960s with the aim of providing high-speed rail links for the
main Italian cities along a north-south axis in response to two clear
challenges—the growing competition from airlines and an increasing
preference for road use.