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A long journey: Germany celebrates 175 years of rail travel

The Local · 7 Dec 2010, 11:30

Published: 07 Dec 2010 11:30 GMT+01:00

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Chancellor Angela Merkel will speak Tuesday night at a large celebration in Nuremberg, organised by national rail operator Deutsche Bahn.

Deutsche Bahn CEO Rüdiger Grube, Transportation Minister Peter Ramsauer, Bavarian Economy Minister Martin Zeit and other officials will also be on hand for the culmination of celebrations and exhibitions that took place around the country this year.

The Adler clocked 35 kilometres per hour on its first journey, flanked by jubilant citizens along the tracks. Just five years later the country had laid some 500 kilometres of railway, and by the First World War, Germans were travelling on a network of some 58,000 kilometres of tracks, which had become the vehicle of industrialisation.

Click here for a choo-choo photo gallery.

Troops were transported to the front during the war, and afterwards the country combined various state-level services to create a national railway.

Today high-speed ICE trains race through Germany at speeds of up to 300 kilometres per hour, though the network has been reduced to a route system of 38,000 kilometres.

But Germany’s railways also played a major role in the country’s darkest hours.

“Neither the war of extermination in the east or the deportation of millions to concentration and death camps would have been possible without the state railway,” Deutsche Bahn said.

When Germany was divided after the Second World War, rail service developed separately in the east and west. While trains in the west competed with cars and aeroplanes, East Germany’s main form of transport for both people and goods remained the railway.

Story continues below…

The two services were merged after reunification 20 years ago, and trains remain an integral part of Germany’s industry, tourism, and daily life.

Sadly the original Adler steam locomotive no longer exists. The steam engine was converted into factory engine in Nuremberg in 1858, though a replica stands in Deutsche Bahn’s museum there.


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Your comments about this article

20:29 December 7, 2010 by Thetrotter
Wow! 35 kilometers per hour, not much has changed then.
18:09 December 10, 2010 by ErickDDiaz
Hey! at least they have a rail system that goes somewhere. Try using the rail system here in Los Angeles. We have the Green thats called 'The nowhere line". Why? It was designed to connect to LAX airport , but instead stops 5 kilimeters short.

Second, the gold line travel as slow as car traffic and board the train at Toyoko station you must go threw a maze of barriers ans cross 2 tracks. ANyway, it goes on and on the shysta system we have.
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