20 Vintage Railway Scenes from the Glory Days of Train Travel

20-vintage-railway-photos-images

Throughout the Victorian period and the early part of the 20th century, railways were a source of great civic pride and prestige for both private citizens and the companies controlling them. And while newer networks tend to be more environmentally friendly than their forebears, the march of progress and modernisation has brought utilitarian trains and often soulless, unimaginative architecture. This article looks at 20 classic railway scenes across the world, spanning the past 180 years.

railway-1 (Image: via Wikimedia, public domain)

Railway Exhibition, Russia – reflecting the pride of the railways during the early 20th century, this seen depicts an exhibition of locomotives and other railway equipment in 1900 Russia.

new-york-penn-station-historic (Image: via Wikipedia, public domain)

Pennsylvania Station, New York City – captured on April 24, 1962, New York’s Penn Station was the first and best known as the Pennsylvania Railroad’s grand terminals. Opened in September 1910 for the Long Island Railroad and later the eponymous Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR), demolition of the above-ground structure began in 1963. Today the site is occupied by Madison Square Garden, while the station below is owned by Amtrak.

trans-siberian-railway (Image: via Kneiphof, public domain)

Trans-Siberian Railway, Russia and the Far East – this 1903 image shows the west side of the station constructed alongside the Khilok River in Chita Oblast. This section of the vast Trans-Siberian Railway opened in 1900. Khilok was ultimately granted town status in 1951.

southern-belle-train (Image: Kansas City Southern Railroad, public domain)

The Southern Belle, Kansas City Southern Railway – this 1941 postcard features the named passenger train service known as the Southern Belle, operated by the Kansas City Southern Railway (KCS) between Kansas City, Missouri and New Orleans, Louisiana from 1940 to 1969.

euston-station-great-hall (Image: Ben Brooksbank, cc-sa-3.0)

The Great Hall, London Euston Station - built in 1846 by the newly-created London & North Western Railway at Euston Station, the terminus of the former London & Birmingham Railway, the Great Hall boasted a statue of railway pioneer George Stephenson, beyond which a grand staircase led to a gallery and shareholders’ rooms. It was destroyed in 1962 to make way for the bland, controversial replacement that still stands today. The statue, thankfully, survives.

silver-star-train-new-zealand (New Zealand Railways Department, public domain)

Silver Star (NZR Train), New Zealand – pictured during the 1970s, the six stainless steel carriages of New Zealand’s famed Silver Star train are pulled by a DX class locomotive. Left unpainted, the Silver Star coaches were a distinctive sight on the country’s railway system.

southern-aurora-dining-car (Image: State Records of New South Wales via Wikipedia, cc-3.0)

The Southern Aurora, Victoria and New South Wales, Australia – dining in style aboard the Southern Aurora, this 1962 photograph reflects the elegance of train travel between the Australian cities of Sydney and Melbourne.

Chicago-and-North-Western-Railway-Company-Illinois (Image: Library of Congress, public domain)

Chicago and North Western Transportation Company, Illinois - pictured here around 1910, the grand lobby of the Chicago and North Western Transportation Company station building reflects the grandeur of railway architecture during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The “North Western” operated until 1995 when it was purchased by Union Pacific Railroad.

corris-railway (Image: John Thomas, public domain)

Corris Railway, Wales – taken in the late 19th century, this photograph of the narrow gauge Corris Railway in Montgomeryshire, Mid Wales, shows one of three steam engines purchased from Hughes Locomotive Company in 1879. The line closed in 1948 with much of the track lifted the following year. In 1951, the nearby Talyllyn Railway became the word’s first preserved railway. Meanwhile, efforts by a team of enthusiasts in the late 1960s saved what was left of the Corris line.

chicago-and-north-western-dining-car (Image: Chicago and North Western Railway, public domain)

Chicago and North Western Transportation Company – this elegant dining car reflects the opulent days of travel enjoyed by first class passengers across the Midwest United States. The company is now owned by Union Pacific Railroad.

caledonian-railway-edinburgh (Image: Ben Brooksbank, cc-sa-3.0)

Passenger Train on the Caledonian Railway, Edinburgh – photographed after departing from Princes Street railway station in Edinburgh, a Caledonian Railway locomotive pulls a train past the now-abandoned Dalry Road station on the North Leith Branch (to the left of this image).

chinese-eastern-railway (Image: via Wikimedia, public domain)

In this early 1900s postcard, workers gather around a steam locomotive on the Chinese Eastern Railway. Titled “The Plains of Manchuria”, the picture reflects the vast region of northeast Asia that spans both China and Russia, and the courage and sacrifice of those that helped bring the railway.

city-hall-station-new-york (Image: US National Park Service, public domain)

City Hall Station, New York City Subway – without a doubt the finest station on the NYC subway and arguably one of the grandest stations of any subterranean rapid transit system, New York’s City Hall stop has been considered a ghost station since it closed in 1945.

south-manchuria-railway (Image: Library of Congress, public domain)

South Manchuria Railway, China -an express train travels the South Manchuria Railway, which was headquartered in Dalian, Northeast China. This image was originally published by Bain News Service.

cape-town-railway-station (Image: South African Railways & Harbours Publicity & Travel Department, public domain)

Cape Town Railway Station, Western Cape, South Africa – pictured in 1896, Cape Town railway station is a far cry from the modern structure. In 1997, the historic Blue Train was refurbished and relaunched, providing luxury transport between Cape Town and Pretoria.

kings-cross-london-express-trains (Image: Andy Dingley, public domain)

King’s Cross Station, London – in this scene from 1928, morning express trains prepare to leave London’s iconic King’s Cross station bound for northern England and Scotland, or simple ‘The North’. Among them are the 10:15 am to Leeds and the non-stop ‘Flying Scotsman‘, as well as the 10:20 am to Peterborough.

union-of-south-africa-A4 (Image: Ben Brooksbank, cc-sa-3.0)

Union of South Africa, London and North Eastern Railway – powering north on the former London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), which ran from Kings Cross to Inverness and Aberdeen, the Gresley A4 Pacific locomotive Union of South Africa cuts an elegant form as it approaches. The LNER now forms part of the East Coast Main Line. The preserved Union of South Africa, meanwhile, remains operational to this day.

empire-builder-train (Image: Great Northern Railway, public domain)

The Empire Builder, United States – first running in June 1929, the Empire Builder is still operated to this day (by Amtrak) through the Midwestern and Northwestern United States. One train passes in each direction daily, theoretically timed to travel through Glacier National Park during daylight hours.

canadian-pacific-railway (Image: Andy Dingley, public domain)

The Imperial Limited, Canadian Pacific Railway – founded in 1881 and operated by the Canadian Pacific Railway Limited, this historic route stretches between Montreal and Vancouver. In total, the company owns some 14,000 miles of track.

stephenson's-rocket (Image: Vasárnapi Újság, public domain)

Stephenson’s Rocket, United Kingdom – last but certainly not least, Stephenson’s Rocket, built in 1829 by Robert Stephenson and Company at Forth Street Works, Newcastle upon Tyne. While the innovative Rocket wasn’t the first steam locomotive, it became the template for most steam engines that evolved over the next 150 years.

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