Other nations with important railway lines include Great Britain, whose well-integrated railroad system, built mostly with private capital, was amalgamated into four lines by the Railway Act of 1921; nationalized in 1948, the system was largely privatized again by 1995. In Canada, the promise of a transcontinental railroad was a major impetus to confederation (see Canadian Pacific Railway). Railroads in France date from 1827, and after the 1840s France had one of the largest railroad systems in Europe. In 1994 the Channel Tunnel between England and France opened for passenger service, using a high-speed rail link. The first German railroad, running from Nuremberg to Furth, began operation in 1835. Soon Germany had a well-developed system, and by the beginning of the 20th cent. a majority of its railroads were owned by the state. The entire system was under state control by 1922. The first monorail line began operation (1899) in Elberfeld-Barmen (now Wuppertal), Germany.
In most other European countries, railroads date from about the middle of the 19th cent. and came increasingly under government ownership and operation. In Russian and other countries of the former Soviet Union, railroad construction, also begun in the mid-19th cent., received a great stimulus following the 1917 revolution, when railroads were first extended into Siberia. British capital and U.S. engineering skill laid the basis for many of the railroads of South America. Railroads of historical importance include the Baghdad Railway, the Trans-Caspian RR, the Chinese Eastern Railway, the Transandine Railway, and the Trans-Siberian RR.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.