railway

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railway (railroad) Form of transport in which carriages (wagons or bogies) run on a fixed track, usually steel rails. Railways date from the 1500s, when wagons used in mines were drawn by horses along tracks. English mining engineer Richard Trevithick built the first steam locomotive in 1804. In 1825, George Stephenson's Locomotion became the first steam locomotive to pull a passenger train, on the Stockton and Darlington Railway. The first full passenger-carrying railway, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, opened in 1830, using Stephenson's Rocket. The growth of rail fed the Industrial Revolution. In the USA, Tom Thumb was the first domestically produced steam locomotive (1830). The first transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, when the Union Pacific Railroad from Nebraska met the Central Pacific Railroad from California at Utah. The world's first underground railway to carry passengers was the City and South London Railway in 1890. Steam locomotives are still used in India, but most countries use electric, diesel, or diesel-electric locomotives. Modern developments include high-speed trains, such as the Japanese ‘Bullet’ train or the French TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse), that travel at an average speed of c.300km/h (185mph). Maglev (magnetic levitation) trains use magnetic forces to hold them above a guide rail. The decrease in friction permits even greater speeds. Air trains hover above the track by an air cushion. Trains that do not run on wheels are usually propelled by the magnetic forces of a linear electric motor, or by jet engine.

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rail·way / ˈrālˌwā/ • n. chiefly British term for railroad.