Dutch Railways

Railways began in the Netherlands in September 20, 1839, when the first train, broad gauge, drawn by De Arend, successfully made the 16 km trip from Amsterdam to Haarlem.

There are roughly six eras, namely the period up to 1839, when the first plans were made for a railroad and early development included two Broad Gauge lines, under the influence of I.K.Brunel; the period 1840-1860, when the railroads experienced their early expansion; the period 1860-1890, when the government started to order the construction of new standard gauge State lines and the Broad Gauge lines were converted to standard gauge; the period 1890-1938, when the railroads were consolidated into two large railroads; the period 1938-1992, when the Nederlandse Spoorwegen was granted a monopoly on rail transport; and finally the period from 1992 to the present, when the Nederlandse Spoorwegen lost its monopoly.

Belgian Railways

The Belgiums opened the first continental European railway on May 5, 1835, between Brussels-Groendreef/Allée verte and Mechelen. The first trains were Stephenson engines imported from Great Britain. The engines were called Pijl meaning Arrow, Olifant meaning Elephant, and 'Stephenson' (obviously named after its designer). They pulled bench-cars and diligences. On the return from Mechelen, the Olifant pulled all 30 cars. By 1840, Ghent, Bruges, Ostend, Antwerp, Mechelen, Brussels and Leuven were connected. The lines that had to reach Liège, Mons and Kortrijk were partially completed. In 1843, when the major East-West/North-South axes were complete, private companies were allowed to construct and use their own rail systems. These were crucial in the industrialisation of the country.

In 1870, the Belgian state owned 863 km of rail lines, while the private enterprises owned 2,231 km. From 1870 to 1882, the railways were gradually nationalised. In 1912, 5,000 km were state property compared to 300 km private lines. Full nationalisation was considered at the time but was not enacted until 1926, when the SNCB was started. It was named the SNCB (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Belges) or NMBS (Nationale Maatschappij der Belgische Spoorwegen), named in a similar way to the French rail network, SNCF. In 1958 the network was fully state-owned. On 5 May 1935 the SNCB started with electrification on the line Brussels North to Antwerp Central, 44 km.

Railway of Luxembourg

Railways in Luxembourg were initiated in 1845 however it wasn’t until the 25 November 1855, that Four main lines were built from Luxembourg city to Bettembourg, Kleinbettingen, Wasserbilig and Ettelbrück in the late 1850s-early 60s and two smaller lines were built to transport the iron ore to the blast furnaces at Dommeldange:

One railway line received the name of the Dutch King and Grand Duke of Luxembourg: "Guillaume Luxembourg" (GL). Which was administered until 10 May 1871 by the Compagnie Francaise de l'Est. After this, the Prussians, having just won the Franco-Prussian War and subsequently having annexed the Alsace, transferred the French rights into a new Compagnie EL (Reichseisenbahn Elsass-Lothringen).

On 19 March 1869, a law created the Compagnie des chemins de fer Prince-Henri, the Lieutenant-Governor of Luxembourg. Further lines were built in the 1870s although the customers of the ironworks were losing interest in Luxembourgish cast iron due to its high phosphorus contents, it was too brittle and the Prince-Henri company went bankrupt.

In 1877, the government stepped in and in 1878 formed a new company, along with private investors, the “Société Luxembourgeoise des Minières et Chemins de Fer Prince Henri”. Its abbreviation remained “PH”. From 20 April 1880 the steel industry was reignited due to a new process.

1880: The first express train Luxembourg followed on 1 June 1881: The Kautenbach – Wiltz, line, A number of narrow gauge lines were built and further developments of the standard gauge network to include expansion to the Belgium border. On 8 August 1900, the new Pétange – Dippach – Luxembourg line opened. This was the point of PH's greatest expansion.

On 10 May 1940, German troops invaded Luxembourg and confiscated the rail lines for use by the occupying army. In November 1941, Luxembourg was officially annexed by Nazi Germany. The Reichsbahn took over the running of the railways; a part of the employees were dismissed, moved to Germany or imprisoned.

Liberation happened on the 10 September 1944, with military transports soon being joined by supplies of steel for European reconstruction.

The Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Luxembourgeois (CFL) was founded on the 17th April 1946 and soon took over all the railways of Luxembourg. Electrification of Kleinbettingen, Bettembourg via Luxembourg City occurred in 1959.

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