Since the early 1850s, Portugal, a country from the European periphery, undertook an ambitious public works programme, based on the principles of Saint-Simonianism, in which railways played a decisive role as tokens of progress and creators of civilizations of circulation. The main goal was to draw the nation closer from those of the European centre. From the 1870s onwards, that programme was transferred to the Portuguese overseas colonies (Angola, Mozambique, and Goa, India) in an effort to ascertain Portuguese sovereignty in those areas that were being coveted by other more powerful European nations. By the eve of World War I, the mileage of the mainland network was about 2,500 km, whereas in the colonies the network extended throughout more than 3,500 km. In this paper, I will analyse the representations Portuguese technocrats (State engineers and those of private companies, politicians and statesman, and army officers) had about the mainland and overseas territories under Portuguese rule and what their expectations were about the investment in railway construction (in economic, political, diplomatic and symbolical terms). I will proceed with a comparative analysis between what was expected and what was achieved: what lines were built, with which characteristics, how much did they cost, what was their operation revenue, did the traffic meet what was anticipated, did railways fortified Portugal as an imperial nation: and so forth. I will then conclude to examine the key factors that determined the shape of the network in the mainland and overseas and the key agents (national and foreigner) in that shaping: engineers, statesman, army officers, entrepreneurs or investors. To do so, I will rely on parliamentary debates, reports from the experts (technical, military, and colonial), statistics (of construction and operation, when available) and the general literature about those technical systems.
|Publication status||Unpublished - 2019|
|Event||The Railway Journey from the 19th to the 21st Centuries. A Cultural History of Railway Transport and Mobility - Cluj-Napoca, Romania|
Duration: 12 Sep 2019 → 14 Sep 2019
|Conference||The Railway Journey from the 19th to the 21st Centuries. A Cultural History of Railway Transport and Mobility|
|Period||12/09/19 → 14/09/19|