Portuguese Railways (1853-1914): Representations, Expectations and Achievements from the Periphery

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review

Abstract

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.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2019
EventThe Railway Journey from the 19th to the 21st Centuries. A Cultural History of Railway Transport and Mobility - Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Duration: 12 Sep 201914 Sep 2019

Conference

ConferenceThe Railway Journey from the 19th to the 21st Centuries. A Cultural History of Railway Transport and Mobility
CountryRomania
CityCluj-Napoca
Period12/09/1914/09/19

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Portuguese Railways (1853-1914): Representations, Expectations and Achievements from the Periphery'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this