The train industry has undergone a rollercoaster of invention, innovation and improvements that have left the human community unable to trace the origin of the idea regarding railway lines and trains. To most people in modern times, the training industry dates back to the time the wagons were first used to ferry people as well as carriage across a longer distance.

Hence, the railway industry is about 200 years old, and since that time, the industry has grown from small steam engines to modern machines that connect the entire world.

The First Railway

Consequently, the first railway line was developed in Great Britain by George Stephenson when he successfully implemented the steam technology of those times, to create a successful locomotive. His work was so impressive that the United States used the first engines they bought from him in England for their systems. What’s more, before the civil war broke, England exported rails to the US as they had realised that the use of railroads dropped the shipping cost of goods and passengers by over 65%.

The Wooden Railway

However, there are arguments that before the invention of steam technology, railways still existed in Australia. A wooden railway line that was operated by man or animal existed, and it is still available in modern times, however in a more updated format. As a result, this means that Australia invented the first railway in the 1550s, and the wooden rails were used to move ore tubs from mines and back.

Soon, the invention became popular in Europe among miners as they continued to search for the easiest way to move their mined products from the pits. From the wagon-way with wooden rails to a funicular railway in Shropshire in the early 1600s that transported coal to riverside towns a couple of miles away.

These form the oldest railway lines in Britain, but they are not as famous as the Wollaston Wagon-way developed by Huntingdon Beaumont in 1604 that moved from Strelley to Wollaston. As technology grew, in 1758, the first railway in Leeds was built, and it is now known as the oldest railway that finally became operational. The Middleton railway was upgraded, and it is still in operation today. In 1764, America developed the first railway line in New York right before the introduction of the metallic rails.

Iron plate rails mounted on stone blocks ― the Derby Canal Railway

The First Iron Railway

In 1803, south of London, William Jessop opened the first iron railway, the surrey railway that they used for public transportation. The introduction of this surrey railway was an improvement after William had earlier introduced iron edged rails and flanged wheels on a forest canal at Leicester. He partnered with Butterley company by 1790 and by the end of that decade, he unveiled Lake Lock railroad that mainly ferried coal, but it also carried passengers.

The invention by William was after several attempts by other inventors and mechanical engineers like James Watts, William Murdoch, and Richard Trevithick.

First Locomotive

Arguments state that the first working steam railway line was developed in the United Kingdom by Richard Trevithick from Cornwall and while it is clear that the first railway line was from the UK, it is contradictory as to who the engineer was. As earlier mentioned, some arguments state that it was Stephenson from Great Britain who invented the first operational steam locomotive.

Either way, the first country to build the first railway line was Great Britain UK. The steam engine by Trevithick was driven using one-power stroke from the high-pressure steam. This locomotive made its first journey in February 1804, but it never went beyond experimentation stage since the engines were deemed too heavy for the plate-way tracks made of cast iron.

Later, in 1812, Matthew Murray built the first rack railway for Middleton railway, Christopher Blackett in 1813 made the first railway locomotive using adhesion only right before George Stephenson, in 1814 who created the machine powered by steam technology.

Stephenson’s invention revealed improvements of earlier works of his predecessors, Trevithick, Murray, and William Hedley who had worked with Blackett. Hence, Stephenson is considered the original inventor of the first railway line as his work has played a critical role in the enhancement and extensive application of steam technology in the transport industry.