Rail transport has changed its face over the years. Starting off in the mid 14th century it has changed dramatically over the years. The earliest rail can be dated to 1350 in Germany and it was a stained glass window kind. The design of a funicular railway was developed in Austria in 1515. The lines were then made of wood and the carts or compartments were propelled by people or animals.
Wooden railways continued up to 1768, the year in which the first iron plate was invented. This consisted of iron plates cast atop the wooden rails. These were then succeeded by steel plates in 1857.
The Steam Engine
The first steam engine dates back to 1769, when it was patented by James Watt, but this engine was not suitable to be pull locomotives. In 1804, the first steam engine was developed which could haul a locomotive by using steam of high pressure. These railway lines however spanned across distances of only a few kilometres. The first line which linked two major cities was started in the year 1930. The Transcontinental line was started in 1869.
Dieselization and Electrification
Electrical rail experiments started right since 1838, when Robert Davidson made and experimented with a carriage powered by a battery. Much later in the year 1883, the first electric railway was developed and in 1888 overhead lines of electricity were put in place. By the late 19th century several major countries all over the world had a vast system of electric lines in place.
The metro or metropolitan line started in the late 19th century. The first rapid transit electric rail was started in 1890 and after years of innovation it has spread to major urban areas, in cities worldwide.