47

The overall answer is that the Soviets were not rich in railways and destroyed much of it as they retreated. The Germans anticipated this, and had railway commandos rebuild much of the Soviet trunk lines and some feeders to standard gauge. They also maintained several of the wide gauge lines if captured intact and with enough rolling stock. Some efforts, ...


38

Could an SS officer get from Auschwitz to Berlin by train in July/August/September 1944? Yes. Per the many comments to your question they'd repair the rails as they'd get destroyed. Trains might get delayed, but they would arrive. And per John Dallman's answer the rail system only broke down in early 1945 when allies began to attack it systematically. ...


25

It was more of a nuisance, than a reason for defeat. The part of a track that is hard to build is the bed. To narrow a track, all you have to do is pull out the spikes, move the rail and drive the spikes back in again. The bigger problem for the Germans was that the rail system in Russia is a hub-and-spokes design where all roads lead to Rome, meaning ...


19

Seems to be an apocryphal story. The first steam locomotive that transported passengers is thought to be the Puffing Devil, created by Cornish inventor Richard Trevithick. Its first demonstration was on Christmas Eve 1801, after being assembled in a Redruth blacksmith shop. The event became a passenger carrying exercise because bystanders jumped on to the ...


16

The Germans changed the gauge from Russian to German and could then use their own equipment. "Die Eisenbahnpioniere" at lexikon-der-wehrmacht.de shows Wehrmacht military railroad engineers changing the gauge. Reichsbahn personnel, civilians and forced laborers were also used to change the gauge.


15

In August/September 1944, the German rail system was working reasonably well. It was heavily loaded, and sometimes damaged by bombing. However, the Western allies weren't doing much bombing east of Berlin, so there would not have been much interference with routes to Auschwitz. Starting in October, the Western allies began attacking the rail system ...


12

Actually, the problems were worse than just rebuilding the railroads to narrow the gauge. Soviet stations, where trains were refuelled were too far apart for German engines - the larger Soviet engines carried more fuel and water and could go farther. The Germans had to rebuild the railroad to a narrower and also create new stations along the path to ...


12

Reichsbahn operated reasonably well practically until the end of the war Reasons for this are easy to understand - unlike oil, Germany had ample supply of coal (Ruhr and Saar region, Kattowitz-Katowice in Poland etc ...). Direct threat for railway system came only from various partisan groups and from air attacks. Partisans were a significant threat for ...


10

According to what I read about Russian railroad troops, their operations could be divided in two parts - before the pre-war border and after. Inside the old Soviet border there were the roads re-gauged by Germans. But those needed no "re-re-gauging" - due to the extensive usage of railroad destroyers by German troops Russian railroad workers were thinking ...


9

The "Ohio" in the name was about the Ohio river, not the state. The background here is that when the Erie canal was built, it became a magnet for trade. A lot of western trade on the Ohio river used to be shipped overland to ports in places like Philadelphia and Baltimore, but now it was cheaper to haul it up to the great lakes, then through the new canal ...


8

The kind of strike you are talking about is called work-to-rule, and is not limited to any single action in one country. Here's an article about a British teacher's union using the tactic in 2012. I first heard about it being used by aussies, but its Wikipedia entry implies (without any backup that I can see) that it is known to be a favored tactic in Italy....


8

The railroad certainly received its share of harassment. Livestock was continuously rustled by tribal raiders, who also boldly shot up work crews and terrorized isolated station towns. Particularly vulnerable were route surveyors, who struck out on their own ahead of the work crews -- and sometimes paid for it with their lives. Twice, Native Americans ...


7

The National Land Survey of Finland site has digital maps from before 1939 available for viewing, including Karelia (below).


7

There were absolutely labor crunches while building the transcontinental railroads--these roads were stretching across a vast, unpopulated (by European Americans, that is) and harsh terrain. Labor shortages were worst during the Civil War, for obvious reasons. However, I can't find evidence of any major delays in the railroads' construction. This is due in ...


7

According to Sophie Basch in "Le voyage à Constantinople: l'Orient-express" [Snoeck-Ducaju & Zoon, 1997], a first class ticket to Istanbul in 1913 cost 586 gold francs from Paris, or £20.11s from London: Au début du XIXème siècle, les voyages étaient particulièrement dispendieux: entre 27.543,70 frs pour Flaubert, dont la mère tient les comptes avec ...


6

The best candidate for protagonist in this story is probably William Murdoch, an employee of Boulton and Watt's who had an interest in using Watt's steam engine concepts for locomotion. What is well-documented is that in 1784 he built a working model in his living room (yes, household model trains are older than real trains!), and then probably another ...


6

I was surprised to find out that, yes there were troubles with labor shortages. From Public Broadcasting Station "American Experience" article on the "Workers of the Central Pacific Railroad", In early 1865 the Central Pacific had work enough for 4,000 men. Yet contractor Charles Crocker barely managed to hold onto 800 laborers at any given time. Most of ...


6

This website suggests that it was competition from the growing aviation industry that spurred development of higher speed trains in the 1930's. There also are inferences in OP's site link that advances in track technology were the driving factor in the higher attained speeds starting in the mid-1930's; not advances in the locomotives themselves. Note that ...


6

Some aspects can and have to observed for that endeavour, some cannot, some just can't be provided by me now, but some you are also free to invent. Of course, try to be careful with what to 'invent' if writing such a story and around that topic. First, the physical aspects: Wikipedia: KZ Auschwitz We see that the actual train rails lead to Kattowitz/...


5

I think it's a combination of factors: In 1850, rail was by far the fastest way to travel. This remained so until the 1930s, when cars and aircraft became common and (as a competitor) a possible threat to the railways. The railways (in Britain, at least) responded by offering faster passenger services on some lines, and designing new, fast locomotives to ...


5

(If you're still looking...) This photo from 1959 shows what's clearly a Whitcomb centercab. It appears identical to locomotives for the Bas Congo - Katanga railway, and closely related to those for Brazil's EF Sorocabana and the Portuguese Class 1300. Thomas Kautzor's reports on Mali and Senegal suggest more. The BB500 series are given as "Alsthom 1955", ...


5

Terminal train stations were built in continental Europe because many railroads connected only two cities in the early to mid 19th century. There were not many rail lines, and the stations built were terminal stations. As the railroad network increased, the terminal stations could not be converted to passthrough anymore.


5

Using information about the Orient Express en de: What is the average travel speed of a train going from one European capital to another in the late 19th century? German wiki says: 48 km/h (over the whole length of the Orient Express)  Vienna/Paris was served by the Orient Express, duration: 2 nights + 1 day. Vienna/Berlin Accoring to this ...


4

Originally, ten locomotives were entered for the Rainhill Trials. In the event, only five took part. Cycloped, Novelty, Perseverance, Rocket, and Sans Pareil. The locomotives were to be transported to the Liverpool & Manchester Railway’s Millfield Yard where they were to be assembled ahead of the trials. Most were transported by sea to Liverpool, and ...


3

Railroads were considered by economic historians to be central to the development of the United States beginning from the second half of the 19th century. Despite this obvious benefit, farmers and city dwellers alike feared that the railroads were earn monopoly profits by "charging what the market would bear." Beginning in the 1880s, there were calls for ...


3

As MichaelF pointed out, it is physically possible to travel across the US on a train - there are more than enough rail lines, though today they're all for freight. As for using Amtrak lines, for the most part Amtrak does not run on rail lines that it owns. The only track that Amtrak owns outright(as far as I remember) is the Northeast Corridor, between ...


3

The Imperial German rail network, in the late 19 Century, was largely designed and financed to facilitate military mobilization. THus any terminal stations would have been designed as arrival stations for debarking troops, first in South Saxony and East Bavaria in preparation for the Austro-Prussian war of 1865, and then in the West Rhinelands in preparation ...


3

This is completely nonsense. As @jjack mentioned in his answer in the mid 19th century the rail road net wasn't as large as today and connected few important cities, only. The advantage of such a terminal station was also that you can build it closer to the city. Terminal station today's disadvantage wasn't present in the past because of the usage of steam ...


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