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Spread of Railways in 19th Century

This document takes the data in Table 6 of Spread of the Industrial Revolution and presents it in different ways in order to show how statistical data may be used.

Table 6

Spread of Railways in Ten Selected Countries

(Length of line open [in kilometers [1km = 5/8 mile])





Austria-Hungary 144 4,543 18,507 36,330
Belgium 334 1,730 4,112 4,591
France 496 9,167 23,089 38,109
Germany 469 11,089 33,838 51,678
Great Britain 2,390 14,603 25,060 30,079
Italy 20 2,404 9,290 16,429
Netherlands 17 335 1,846 2,776
Russia 27 1,626 22,865 53,234
Spain - 1,917 7,490 13,214
Sweden - 527 5,876 11,303

Visually this version of the table can be presented as follows. In this version the percentage of total European railways belonging to each country in particular years is shown. Great Britain, a small island, had well over 60 percent of railroads in Europe in 1840, but a much smaller percentage, even though its absolute amount of track increased tenfold, by 1900.

In this next graph, the same data are present in a way which emphasizes the absolute increase in railroads during the period.

This text is part of the Internet Modern History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts for introductory level classes in modern European and World history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use of the Sourcebook.

(c)Paul Halsall Aug 1997

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© Site Concept and Design: Paul Halsall created 26 Jan 1996: latest revision 5 June 2023 [CV]