Koleją w nowoczesność – plany budowy połączeń kolejowych i ich realizacja na terenie Europy Środkowej w XIX i XX w.

Railway to modernity – plans for railway construction and their implementation in Central Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries

Dawid Keller

ORCID: Dawid Keller: 0000-0003-2586-3913

Pages: 39-57

Edition: Lublin 2023

DOI: https://doi.org/10.36874/RIESW.2023.4.2

Citation method: D. Keller, Koleją w nowoczesność – plany budowy połączeń kolejowych i ich realizacja na terenie Europy Środkowej w XIX i XX w., „Rocznik Instytutu Europy Środkowo-Wschodniej” Rok 21(2023), z. 4, s. 39-57, DOI: https://doi.org/10.36874/RIESW.2023.4.2

Keywords: , , , , , , , , ,

Abstract: The aim of this article is, based on the situation in Poland (according to the borders of 1945), Czechoslovakia (according to the borders of 1938), Austria-Hungary (within the borders from 1867 to 1918 and their immediate successors), i.e. the 19th century parts of Prussia (later Germany), Russia and Austria, to indicate (using selected examples) the method, circumstances, factors of planning the railway network and similarly the circumstances of their implementation. Therefore, an indirect aim will be also to present the differences and similarities between these countries in order to ultimately show the areas of the relationship between railways and modernity. The ‘hopes’ accompanying these plans and the ‘emotions’ absolutely present during implementation are also subject to analysis. All applicants for further railway investments expressed hopes of a ‘miraculous’ impact of the railways on economic and social life (in that order). However, this impact also varied depending on the time when the investment was made. Certainly, the existence of this phenomenon (and the associated danger of overinvestment) was recognised as early as the seventh and eighth decades of the 19th century, and it was pointed out in the analyses of the projects submitted that they would not provide a return of the sums invested. Nevertheless, such projects were not always abandoned. There was no similar consideration in many cases in interwar Poland. After 1918, Czechoslovakia basically pursued only politically-driven projects (as it had faced earlier overinvestment and invested in modern motorisation) – including those aimed at integrating the two parts of the country. Polish decision-makers (and communities), on the other hand, were still at this time largely pinning their hopes on the beneficial impact of the railways on economic development.