Most sources I checked only present how the maximum train speed developed over time. For example, the top speed for a passenger train in 1854 was around 130 km/h. This record was set by a steam-powered train in the UK and I assume this was accomplished on a straight line with tracks in perfect condition and no passengers.
The average speed for train travel would of course be way slower. Train tracks have to bend and curve to match the surrounding terrain and depending on the level of maintenance, these tracks would not always be in the best condition, especially in rural areas. In addition, such trains would have to stop regularly at train stations, in order to allow passengers to board and exit the train.
According to Wikipedia, the average travel speed of steam railways went from 50 km/h in the 1870s to 90 km/h in the 1910s. But I’m not sure if these number reflect short, medium or long distance travel. This question focusses mostly on long distance travel. The following sub-questions are my main interest:
What is the average travel speed of a train going from one European capital to another in the late 19th century? The traveller in question would choose the fastest rail connection, probably avoiding regional trains in favour of long-distance traffic options. Of course I'm not looking for detailed statistics about the railway connection between each and every European country. Just the average speed a train would travel each day.
- However, if someone has detailed information about the connection between Vienna/Paris and Vienna/Berlin, it would be much appreciated.
Would such trains also travel during the night? I know that sleeping cars are around for a long time, but I’m not sure how frequently they were in use on different routes.
How much would such cross-country trains be impeded or delayed by customs posts?