One of the most important developments in European history, the railways helped create the social and economic fabric of the continent. In the æGolden AgeÆ of the railways, from the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth, there was no more exciting, exotic or desirable way to travel. - - As the major railway companies quickly became huge industrial powers in their own right, they began to influence the infrastructure of trade, industry, agriculture and settlement. In some countries the bulk of the railway network was centralised under state control, while in others corporate and personal fortunes were won and lost as railway fever spread far and wide. - - Crossing stunning landscapes, linking the continentÆs great cities, and bringing natural wonders within the - reach of ordinary people, the railways encouraged the growth of tourism industry, which in turn spurred the - development of dramatic poster art. - - All these aspects of the early decades of European railway history are explored in this elegant, lavishly - illustrated volume. The social, economic, environmental and technological challenges and achievements are all - covered, together with highlights of the routes and the experiences of eager train passengers. - - The Golden Age of European Railways contains more than three hundred contemporary illustrations as well as - route maps, schedules, technical appendices, and the fascinating perspectives of a team of award-winning - writers and acknowledged railway experts.