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From the history of railways

I: Read the text and fill in the table:

A. The early railways were not like the railways we have today. The very first railways used horses for drawing trains and were put into operation for transporting such products as coal, ore and timber. Later on, the horse railways were used as passenger transport in large cities. But these railways did not last long.

B. The idea of using steam locomotive engines interested many inventors and goes back to the 19th century. But the history of steam traction began much earlier when an English engineer, William Murdock, built a working model of a steam locomotive in 1784. It was a baby locomotive about a foot (30, 5 cm.) high. It had three wheels and its boiler was heated by a spirit lamp. One day Murdock wanted to test his engine. He lighted the spirit lamp and soon the water began boiling. The engine ran fast along the street with loud roaring (рёв). Unfortunately, nothing came of Murdock’s invention because his little locomotive was thought of as the creation of the Devil.

C. The next attempt to use the steam engine to draw passengers and freight trains was made in 1808 by Richard Trevithick, an Englishman, who demonstrated his working model in London. This locomotive was looked at with interest when it ran on a circular track of iron rails. For a shilling the public could travel in a carriage drawn by the steam engine. The locomotive was called “Catch-Me-Who-Can”, and people could really catch it because it developed only 12 mph. But one day a rail broke and locomotive overturned, ending Trevithick’s career as an inventor.

D. In 1829, George Stephenson, an English inventor and engineer, built a successful steam locomotive which he called the “Rocket”. This locomotive was much smaller and lighter than the steam locomotives developed later on and it was much slower. However, it could draw a small train of loaded cars on the railway and developed an unheard-of speed of 13 mph (12kph). The invention of the steam locomotives made the railway the most important of all means of transportation. Stephenson not only constructed the world’s first steam locomotive but he was also the builder of the first public railway in England – the Stockton and Darlington railway using both steam and horses as tractive power. This railway was a success and Stephenson was asked to build another railway, now steam-powered, between Liverpool and Manchester. It is difficult for the people, living at the beginning of the 21th century to imagine the opposition to the building of the early railways. Most of the people did not believe that it was possible to make locomotives suitable for service. Many of them were afraid of the railways when they first appeared and they did all to stop railway construction.

E.In Russia, many people like in Great Britain had doubts about the possibility of using steam engines in the Russian winter. Nevertheless, the first railway using steam traction was put into service at the Nizhni Tagil metallurgical works. It was a short distance line covering only 854 meters. This railway was soon followed by another one constructed in 1837. It was a 15-mile public railway between St.Petersburg and Tsarskoye Selo.

F. The first steam locomotive in Russia was built by the Cherepanovs, father and son, who were talented and skilled workmen of their time. Thanks to them our country may be placed among the countries which were the first to use steam as tractive power.

G. In the course of railway history research was carried out which was aimed at developing cheaper and more efficient means of transportation. They are of some interest from different point of view.

H. In 1862, L.D. Girard, a French inventor, surprised the world when he announced that he had invented a Gliding Railway based on an entirely new wheelless design. A train without wheels! People called it fantastic and criticized the idea of a train moving like a skate on a water base. According to the project the train was to move on six plates. While the train was running the water was to be spread evenly between the plates and the track. When constructed, the experimental line was a success. People travelling on this strange railway were surprised by its smoothness, the noiseless operation of trains and the speed attained. This railway proved much cheaper in comparison with conventional railway since it did not need a rail track.

I. Still another interesting proposal for an unusual railway goes back to the principle of using skids (тормозной башмак). William H. Reinholz, USA, proposed to use a water base for his track. But unlike Girard he thought the water was to be frozen and the trains would move over a bed of ice. According to Reinholz the atomic energy ought to be used for freezing water, and the track ought to be enclosed in a gallery of transparent plastic to decrease air friction and power losses. The stream-lined trains, which were to run on this track, should be made of aluminum.

J. Many details of the plan had to be worked out, but the designer expected speeds of 300-500 mph would be achieved on the railway. However, some specialists had doubts whether these speeds could be really attained. They criticized the project and found it non-effective.


inventor invention place of invention (city, country) date of invention results of invention
…, an English engineer       His little locomotive was thought of as the creation of the Devil.
  the steam engine      
…, an English inventor and engineer        
The Cherepanovs …   Russia    
        This railway proved much cheaper
William H. Reinholz, an American designer and inventor        

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 | II. Put the plan in correct order according to the contents of the text.

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