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3. Map The railway network development in the Polish lands in the nine-teenth century

The railway network development in the Polish lands in the nineteenth century Click image to enlarge
Source: Map The railway network development in the Polish lands in the nineteenth century, [In:] G. Szelągowska, Historia. Dzieje nowożytne i najnowsze 1870 – 1939. Podręcznik dla klasy III liceum ogólnokształcącego, Warszawa 1994, s. 101.


The industrial and urban development has contributed to advances in communication, especially the construction of railways. In the years 1859-1885 in the Kingdom of Poland 1540 km of railway tracks were built. In 1862the first railway connecting Russia with Prussia and the line linking Warsaw and Bialystok, Vilnius and St. Petersburg were built. This line was the first railway connection linking the Kingdom with Russia. In 1866, the line Łódź-Koluszki connected the textile industry center with Warsaw – Vienna railway. In 1867 Warsaw – Terespol line was built, which established connection with Ukraine and central Russia (thanks to the line Kovel - Grajewo through Bialystok and Brest). In 1877 theVistula River Railroad Kovel - Mlawa through Lublin and Warsaw was completed, in 1885 the line Deblin – Dąbrowa Górnicza through Kielce and Koluszki - Ostrowiec through Tomaszów Mazowiecki.

The first railway line within the current Polish border was opened on May 22, 1842. The line was established in the territories annexed by Prussia and connected Oława with Wroclaw, and then it was extended to Brzeg. In 1843 the railroad already reached Opole. In the second half of the 1940s there was a great expansion of railways in Lower Silesia. These lines were used to transport coal from mines in Silesia into Germany. Railway began to develop in Pomerania and Greater Poland. In 1843 the line connecting Szczecin with the capital state - Berlin was opened. In the years 1846-1848 the main railway line to Poznan was built. In the 50s there was a development of railways in Pomerania, related to the construction of the main railway line connecting Berlin and Königsberg. In 1851, the line connecting Krzyż with Bydgoszcz was built. In 1852 the line reached Gdańsk through Tczew . In parallel, the line on the other side of the Vistula was built. In 1857, in Tczew a road-rail bridge on theVistula was built. In 1857, the main railway line was completed in the section Krzyż - Berlin. In parallel to the main railway lines in Silesia, the local railway lines connecting Szczecin with Kołobrzeg and Koszalin were built. In 1857, in the Upper Silesian Coal Basin the first narrow-gauge railway within the Polish territory in the current boundaries was completed. In the 70s in Pomerania, Lower Silesia and Greater Poland local lines were branched. There were also shortcuts and missing short sections between cities and townsdeveloped. Departure from the construction of typical freight railways (as most of these were completed) in favour of the construction of lines for tourist resorts. In the 80s in Prussia, the network was already formed. At that time there has been a development of narrow-gauge railways around large cities such as Poznań, Gdańsk, Słupsk, serving sugar factories and partly local traffic.

In Galicia, the first line was established in 1847, connected Krakow and the Upper Basin and with Prussia. In 1848, after finishing the Warsaw-Vienna line, Krakow – Szczakowa line was established. In 1855, in Galicia, more railway lines were built connecting the major cities with Vienna. In the '60s mainly local lines and short segments connecting Cieszyn and Dziedzice with the Upper Silesian Coal Basin were built. In the 70s in Galicia there were was a lot of lines running from south to north, connecting Galicia with the neighboring lands of Austria and Hungary. In the 80s in Galicia in the construction of railway lines came to a standstill. Only the lines around Jaslo were built for oil wells service. Railway ceased to be formed for the needs of industry and politics, lines started to be built leading to the resorts and connecting district cities.

In the late nineteenth century, the railway network in the Polish lands had already been developed. Apart from some railway lines linking Poland, after World War I and II, there were no new lines built.


  1. Point to differences in the development of railway network in the Polish lands in the second half of the nineteenth century.
  2. Explain the reason for the uneven development of the railway network in the Polish lands in the second half of the nineteenth century.
  3. Point on a map the biggest cities of the Kingdom of Poland, Galicia and the largest Polish cities located in the nineteenth century in Prussia (Pomerania, Province of Poznań, Silesia, East and West Prussia).

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Description and Analysis

  1. Since 1842, when the first railway line on Polish territory within the current boundaries was built, connecting Wroclaw with Oława, by the end of the nineteenth century in the development of the railway lines on Polish lands great differences were marked. They were visible between Silesia, Pomerania, Greater Poland that belonged to Prussia and Mazovia and northern Malopolska in Russia, and Galicia located within the Austrian Empire. These differences in the interwar period and after World War II were partially levelled, however, still the Prussian-Russian border is visible in the Polish rail network.
  2. The cause of the uneven development of railways in the Polish lands belonging to the Prussian, Austrian and Russian invader should be sought in different levels of industrialization and urban development on these lands. The fastest developing industry was in the lands, which were under Prussian rule, and hence there was the highest density of railway lines connecting the cities of the annexation. Much worse in terms of economical development were Polish cities under Russian and Austrian rule, and this meant that the railway network was much less developed.
  3. The largest cities of the Kingdom of Poland were: Warsaw, Lodz, Czestochowa, Kielce, Siedlce, Kalisz, Lublin. The largest Polish cities under Austrian rule in Galicia: Krakow, Lwow, Przemysl, Rzeszow, Tarnow, Tarnopol, Stanislawów. The largest Polish cities in Prussia were: Wroclaw, Poznan, Szczecin, Gdańsk, Opole, Bydgoszcz, Torun, Legnica, Piła, Olsztyn.

Geographical/Historical Context

The economic development of the lands of any annexation proceeded differently. The Kingdom of Poland was one of the most industrialized part of the Russian Empire. In the second half of the nineteenth century, large industrial plants grow mainly in Warsaw, district of Lodz (textile industry) and the Coal Fields of Dabrowa and the Old Polish Industrial Region (heavy industry). In heavy industry In the late 70s and in the early 80s blast-furnaces using coke, steel and modern open-hearth mills were developed. Huta Bankowa in Dabrowa Górnicza, plants in Ostrowiec and Starachowice located in the Old Polish Indistrial Region were expanded and modernized, rail factory was founded in Praga, a distric of Warsaw. In metal industry and machine construction industryWarsaw plants became leaders. The plants of the greatest importance were: Lilpop, Rau, Loewenstein, Borman, Schwede and Co., and K. Rudzki and Co. Textile industry, particularly cotton, was concentrated in the district of Lodz. The major breakthrough in the use of steam engines in textile industry took place in the years 1865-1875. In 1880 there was a total mechanization of weaving in the cotton industry. Initially, production was for the internal market, since the 80s therole of Russian markets grew, which resulted in the significant developments of the textile industry. Apart from the bigfactory of Scheibler in Lodz, and Poznański, his competitor, and finally Geyer, large plants were built also built in Zawiercie. There has been a rapid development of wool industry. Its centers were Lodz, Zgierz and Tomaszów Mazowiecki, a bit later Sosnowiec and Marki near Warsaw. These plants mainly supplied domestic market. Beyond the borders of the Kingdom the center of wool industry were: Supraśl, Choroszcz and Bialystok. In the linen industry, Żyrardów held a monopolistic position and in the years 1856-1876 there was a large-industrial production, in the 80s it became the largest industrial plant of the Kingdom of Poland.

Best-developed industry in the Polish lands was under Prussian rule. In Poznan district the development of agriculture was accelerated by the enfranchisement of the peasants, realized in the years 1808-1865. As a result of the introduction of modern methods of farming, agriculture in Greater Poland since the late nineteenth century strongly dominated among all the Polish lands. In Upper Silesia after 1815 there was a rapid development of industry (iron, zinc, mining of metal ores). Coal mining increased gradually. Rapidly grew the number of workers and the bourgeoisie appeared, composed mainly of Germans.

In Galicia, the overall economy level was the lowest among the three partitions of the Polish lands.Only alcohol-distilling and sugar industry developed, and from the second half of the nineteenth century – oil mining. Oil deposits were discovered in 1850 near Borysław. In 1853, the hospital halls in Lviv were lit with oil lamps. Other deposits of oil were discovered in Poland in the Carpathian Mountains. During the extraction of crude oil a technique called deep drilling was used, which has brought excellent results. Production has increased from 2 300 tones in 1883 to 2 053 000 in 1909. At that time, Galicia was in the fourth place among world oil producers.