International Railway Organization in 19th and 20th century Europe.

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! # Transport and Mobility Conference, October 2005 Irene Anastasiadou Version September International Railway Organization in 19th and 20th century Europe. 1. Introduction And, indeed, the railway
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! # Transport and Mobility Conference, October 2005 Irene Anastasiadou Version September International Railway Organization in 19th and 20th century Europe. 1. Introduction And, indeed, the railway itself is an object lesson as to the futility of mere artificial restrictions on progress. The passenger boards his train at Calais, and frontiers are wiped out between the English Channel and Brindisi; or he sets out on his journey from St. Petersburg and his destination is the distant port of Vladivostock in the Far East. For him the artificial distinction that calls this Europe and that Asia is wiped out. 1 International railway traffic was already running in the 19th century. The Orient Express running from Paris to Constantinople since 1883 was one only from the trains de luxe , as they were called, providing for international railway passenger traffic in Europe in the 19th century. 2 International trains de luxe were run throughout the 19th and 20th century by the International Sleeping Car Company. Other known examples of international railway services are the Trans-Europe express high-speed trains running in the post second war world period. Known as T.E.E. trains, these were designed to provide a fast and comfortable passenger service between what their iniators regarded as the most important business centers in Europe . 3 In analogy to these passenger services, international goods trains have run throughout the 19th and 20th century, providing for international freight services. 4 As existing historiography on railway documents, the political unit of the nation-state has provided the political context in which railway technology was introduced and railway networks developed in Europe. If this is the case, then the following question, consequently, arises: how did international railway traffic become possible? What agents shaped this process? Some authors of railway history refer to the work of international railway agreements and organizations and their importance in promoting international railway traffic. 5 However, an overall account of these 1 From an article in the journal Railway Gazette of the 1910s, The International Railway Congress , in: The Railway Gazette, 33, (1910), p The International Sleeping Car Co. , in: The Railway Gazette, XXXII, 41, (1900) 3 High-Speed Diesel-Electric Trains for International Services , in: The Railway Gazette, 107, (1957), pp In an analogy to the T.E.E. trains, in the same period the Trans-Europe-Express-Marchandises (T.E.E.M.) provided for fast long-distance rail services over the systems of several countries.g. Baum, The T.E.E.M. Trains of Western Europe , in: Tha Railway Gazette, 114, (1961), pp Laurent Tissot, Les Modeles Ferroviaires Nationaux et la Creation d' Un Systeme International de Transports Europeens, Coordination, Integration ou Unification? , in: Relations Internationales, 95, (1998)Laurent Tissot, 'Naissance d' une Europe Ferroviaire: La Convention Internationale de Berne (1890)', in Michele Merger and Dominique Barjot, eds., Les Enterprises et Leurs Reseaux: Hommes, Capitaux, Techniques et Pouvoirs XIXe-XXe siecles. Melanges en l' honneur de Francoic Caron. (Paris: 1998)Laurent Tissot, 'The Internationality of Railways; An Impossible Achievement?', in Die Internationalitat der Eisenbahn (Zurich: Chronos, 2003)Douglas J. Puffert, 'The Technical integration of the European railway Network', in Albert Carreras, Andrea Giuntini, and Michele Merger, eds., European Networks: The Development of a Trasnational System of 1 organizations, their work, mission and their history, as well as an assessment of their importance for the history of railways and the history of European integration has yet to be done. In this paper I aim to fill partially this gap in historiography. In particular, my aim is to make an inventory of international organizations and to identify the ones that were most prominent in providing international railway traffic. Following in broad lines the canonical periodization of political historians, I divide my narrative in three periods, each of which is defined by the political situation and, as I will show, by the dominant international organizations: 1830s to 1910s, 1910s to 1940s and finally 1940s to I base my narrative on my research in secondary literature, railway journals and particular the Railway Gazette (R.G.), the Bulletin of the International Union of Railways and research in the archives of some of the most prominent organizations, including the Transit and Communications Committee of the League of Nations (1919), the Inland Transport Committee of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (1947) and the European Conference of Transport Ministers (1953). 2. The first railway organizations of an international scope: 1830s to 1910s. International co-operation in the field of railways started early in the 19th century. This mainly took the form of bilateral or multilateral agreements between railway administrations, or in some cases even treaties between governments. In many cases such agreements established organizations, international in character. Such organizations were limited initially as far as their geographical scope of activity was concerned. 6 Many subsequently expanded their geographical field of activity and broadened their field of interests. An early development that made international railway traffic possible throughout Europe was the adoption of gauge of 1435m by the railway systems of many European countries. This later became the standard gauge for railways in most countries in Europe. Existing historiography refers to this process as an ex ante standardisation of gauge, which was a result of a process of diffusion of railway technology and technical knowledge from the United Kingdom to continental Europe in the initial phase of development of railway technology. 7 This ex ante standardisation of railway gauge during the initial period of railway construction in Europe made possible the establishment of connections between some of the independently evolving national railway networks. Through their interconnection, national networks provided the basic material infrastructure on which international passenger and good trains run. 8 Transport and Communications (1994)Michelet Pierre, Les Transports au Sol et L' Organisation de L' Europe (L' Universite de Lausanne, 1961) 6 Ralph L Wedgwood and J. E. Wheeler, International Rail Transport (London, New York, Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1946), p In particular, according to historiography Stephenson himself built lines in several parts of Britain and much of Belgium during the mid-1830s, while other British engineers introduced his gauge to several parts of Germany and Italy by the early 1840s. These pioneering railways set the pattern for subsequent lines that branched out from them, as compatible gauges were clearly adopted to facilitate through traffic. 8 Douglas J Puffert, The Economics of Spatial Network Externalities and the Dynamics of Railway Gauge Standardization (Stanford University, 1991), also Puffert, 'The Technical integration of the European railway Network', pp Among the international unions established in the 19th century between railway administrations, of particular interest is the work of the Union of German Railway Administrations (in German V.D.E.V.). It is important because within its sphere of activity, it covered the whole field of international railway conditions for technical conisderations to legal standardisation, timetables etc.. 9 The V.D. E.V. was set up in 1846 as the Union of Prussian Railway Administrations (Verein Preussischer Eisenbahn Verwaltungen). A year later, the Union changed its name into Union of German Railway Administrations (Verein Deutscher Eisehnbahn Verwaltungen, 1847). A modification of the status of the Verein which brought an expansion of its activity, took place in The new status relaxed the conditions of admission to the Union, and thus membership was broadened. In particular, according to the conditions for membership as defined in this statute, all railway administrations that exploited lines in the territory of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and the Grand- duchy of Luxembourg could become members of the Verein, but exclusively for the part of these lines that were situated in the above mentioned territories. 10 In 1879, it united 110 railway administrations from Germany, Austrio-Hungary, Luxemburg and the Netherlands, representing in total a network of kilometres. 11 It included eight committees responsible for a variety of issues such as the transport of goods and passengers, the material infrastructure, technology and exploitation, statistiques, the statute of the Verein, its journal etc. 12 In the second half of the 19th century the Verein was developing technical standards. In particular, already in 1856 it published a Technical Convention for the construction and exploitation of the railways of the meber-networks. 13 Under the support of the Union of German Railway administrations grew up another organization, important for the promotion of international railway traffic. During the European Time-Table Conference, as it was named in 1891, railway administrations met and decided the time-table of international trains with the purpose of establishing correspondence of services between the railway services of different countries and the achievement of agreements with regard to the composition of international trains. Other international unions of railway administrations that were established in the 19th century were the International Exchange Union (head office at Magdeburg) which was responsible for enforcing the Regulations for the Use of Rolling-Stock between its member Administrations, the Austro-Oriental Union (with offices at Budapest), and the Union between Railways of Central Europe and Italy (with offices at Strasburg and Magdeburg). 14 The Union Internationale des Voitures et Fourgons, 9 Wedgwood and Wheeler, International Rail Transport, p7. 10 M. Philippe, Notice Sur L' Union (Verein) des Chemins de Fer Allemands , in: RGCF, 2, 4, (1879), p Philippe, 'Notice Sur L' Union (Verein) des Chemins de Fer Allemands', pp Later on railway administrations from Roumania became also members. Wedgwood and Wheeler, International Rail Transport, p The Verein published two periodicals: the Organ Fur die Fortschritte des Eisenbahnwesens, established in 1845 by the German railway engineer, Edmund Hensiger von Waldegg. According to existing historiography since 1864, under the responsibility of the Verein this became the leading engineering weekly newspaper for the European railway world. Furthermore, the Verein published De Zeitung des Vereins since 1861, two times per week. Philippe, 'Notice Sur L' Union (Verein) des Chemins de Fer Allemands', p Philippe, 'Notice Sur L' Union (Verein) des Chemins de Fer Allemands', p Geographically, the union covered the greater part of the Austro-Hungarian, Belgian, Dutch, French, German, Luxembourg, Roumanian and Swiss Railways. 3 was founded in 1889 to deal with questions of exchange of international traffic, with the aim to regulate the international use of carriages and vans. 15 Activity with regard to the promotion of international railway traffic was not confined to the level of railway administrations. In the second half of the 19th century the Swiss Federal Government took the initiative for the establishment of agreements between governments that would facilitate international railway traffic. This was a few years after the opening of the St. Gothard railways, in a period when the Swiss railway networks were facing financial difficulties. 16 It seems legitimate to suggest that the Swiss Governmnet by promoting these agreements promoted the transit character of the country so as to help its railway networks to come out from their financial predicament. On the invitation of the Swiss Federal Government, representatives from the governments of several central European countries participated in a series of meetings which resulted in the establishment of two intergovernmnetal agreements promoting uniform technical and legal conditions for the running of international railway traffic. Both agreements were binding with respect to international traffic on the railway administrations in the countries members. 17 The geographical scope of the European countries which eventually adhered to these agreements grew significantly towards the end of the 19th century and in the first decades of the 20th century. The initiative began when the Swiss Government first invited the governments of its neighboring countries (Germany, France, Italy and Austria) to a conference in 1874 with the purpose of reaching an agreement on a common regulation for the transport of goods by rail. After much negotiations, the first international conference took place in Berne in 13 May During a series of conferences (September 1878 and July 1886) the convention on the transport of goods by rail took shape. It was signed by the representatives of governments from Germany, Austria, Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Russia and Switzerland in Berne in 14 Octobre It came into force in 1st January 1893 after the ratification of the countries that signed it. 18 When ratified, the convention became part of the legislation of each ratifying country. 19 This convention is of great importance for the history of railways for two reasons: first, it established for he first time an international code of merchandise traffic between the countries that signed it. 20 Second, it established a Central Office at Berne under the supervision of the Swiss Federal Council with a duty to receive suggestions for modifications of the Convention, to prepare for the periodical meetings of the Conference, to arbitrate on disputes and to facilitate financial relations between the member administrations The initiative came form the Prussian and Bavarian Railways, who invited their neighbour administrations to a conference in As a result of this action a Conference was established for regulating the international use of carriages and vans. Meetings were held in conjunction with the European Time-Table Conference.Wedgwood and Wheeler, International Rail Transport, pp Tissot, 'Naissance d' une Europe Ferroviaire:' 17 Wedgwood and Wheeler, International Rail Transport, pp Revision Conferences took place in 1896, 1905 and 1911 in Berne. Umberto Pipia, 'Trasporti Internazionali', in Diritto Ferroviario (Milano: Societ`a Editrice Libraria, 1912), pp Wedgwood and Wheeler, International Rail Transport, pp These were the governmnets of Austria-Hungary, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Russia, and Switzerland. 21 Wedgwood and Wheeler, International Rail Transport, p. 4. 4 This was the first intergovernmental body established in Europe, dealing with issues of international railway traffic. 22 In the same period, the representatives of governments from Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland were gathered in the first technical standards conference that was held at Berne after the initiative of the Swiss Federal Government, in During the conference, the Swiss representative proposed the conclusion of an agreement that would settle down the standards for the circulation of railway rolling stock in the railway systems of different countries. As a result of this first encounter a final protocol was signed (21 October 1882) that laid down the conditions to be fulfilled by rolling-stock passing between the countries named. The protocol on the Technical Unity on Rail Transport (L 'Unité Technique, UT) that was actually put into force on 1st of April 1887 included provisions that secured uniformity in rolling-stock exchange on the Continent: it determined technical parameters such as the dimensions of loading gauge, the maximum length of vehicles and maximum axle load, it fixed the position of couplings, continuous brakes and steam heating pumps. 23 More conferences followed that led to a new version of the convention on the technical uniformity of railways, which came into effect on July 1st 1908, while 24 the regulations were modified again in the following years. After 1912, the conference stopped convening. Instead, an international commission was established, responsible for the enforcement of new treaties, while the Swiss Federal Council was charged to make it approved throug correspondence with the countries that had signed the agreement. 25 Throughout the period of its existence, the Technical Unity on Rail Transport issued books setting out the standard requirements laid down in their regulations, covering gauge, construction details, maintenance of wagons on foreign lines and loading. The various governments implemented the decisions 22 In order to supplement the provisions of the C.I.M., a Union of Railway Administrations was established in 1902 which in turn set up a special Committee, known as the C.I.T. ( Comit`e International des Transports par Chemin de Fer). Its function was to deal with regulations supplementary to the C.I.M. and to keep them up to date. These regulations, together with those of the C.I.M. itself, formed the R`eglement uniforme pour le transport international des merchandises par chemins de Fer. 23 Unite Technique des Chemin de Fer (UT), TE , (Plaquette du centenaire) (L' Office Federal des Transports, Berne, Administration gerante de l' Unite Technique, 1982), pp. 4, In particular, a second conference in which 10 states participated was held at Berne in 1886, and a third with the participations of 16 states was held in Berne in In particular, Roumania and the Netherlands joined in, in 1887, Servia in 1888, Greece and Belgium in 1890, Bulgaria in 1891, Sweden and Russia in Spain and Portugal, having only broad-gauge railways did not adhere In 1911, 1912, the commission elaborated the third version of dispositions (that was called version 1913) which was entered into force on 1st may In the interwar period, the UT co-operated closely with the UIC (see below) and published a revision of the Protocol in technical Unity in By this time almost all countries of standard gauge of continental Europe participated in the organization. See Puffert, 'The Technical integration of the European railway Network', p. 137, The European Conference of Ministers of Transport (E.C.M.T.), Booklet issued for the Centenary Session of the Committee of Deputies held in Stockholm on 10th June, 1969, p. 11. Pierre, p. 25,, List of Permanent International Organizations (Digest No. 40), International Chamber of Commerce, Digest No.40, (Paris: International Chamber of Commerce, 1923), pp Also, with regars to the technical unit see Standardisation on Continental Railways; L' Unite Technique des Chemins de Fer , in: Tha Railway Gazette, 17, November 15, (1912) Standardisation on Continental Railways, Continuous Brakes for Goods Trains- The Recent Trials at Vienna , in: Tha Railway Gazette, 17, Novmeber 22, (1912) Standardisation on Continental Railways; The Westinghouse IUmproved Brake for Goods Trains , in: Tha Railway Gazette, 19, November 14, (1913) International Equipment , in: The Railway Gazette, 28, Septembre 6, (1918), p reached by the Unit`e Technique but this legislation was not (as the Berne Convention referred to later) embodied in international treaties. 26 Different in character from the above mentioned organizations was the International Railway Congress Association (IRCA, 1885). It was established during a meeting of railway men of various nationalities held in Brussels in 1885 with the object of celebrating the Jubilee of the Belgian state railway system. It had a worldwide scope. During its meetings, delegates met and discussed developments in railway technology. Its main concern was the development and disseminatio
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