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Galatz


Railways    EN

Author: ARDELEANU KONSTANTIN

The first railways in Romania were built by foreign entrepreneurs who were granted concessions by the Romanian state. Such a lease was given in 1865 for a railroad between Bucharest and the Danubian port of Giurgiu, a line inaugurated in 1869. The construction of the backbone of the national railways network was entrusted in 1868 to a German consortium led by Bethel Henry Strousberg, who was to build the railroad Vârciorova – Bucharest – Brăila – Galaţi – Tecuci – Roman, with a total length of 915 kilometres. A part of the line, including the section from Tecuci to Galaţi, was provisionally opened in 1870, and the route Roman – Mărăşeşti – Tecuci – Galaţi – Brăila – Buzău – Bucharest was fully operational in 1872[1]. However, Strousberg was greatly affected by the outburst of the Prussian–French war of 1870, and during the next decade his concession was fiercely disputed between the Romanian authorities and the consortium’s shareholders. The problem was finally solved in 1880, when the state bought back the railway, after Germany made it clear that Romanian independence would be recognised only after a convenient solution to this dispute. By this period the Romanian state had bought most of the lines from their initial contractors and started to build new railroads with Romanian engineers and Romanian material (at a cost about half of that paid to foreign investors). The railroads were exploited by the General Direction of Romanian Railways, according to the provisions of a special law passed in 1883. The tables below show the progress of Romanian railways during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which by 1915 totalled 3,702 kilometres of railways and 443 stations and halts (for which the state spent almost 1.1 billion lei). At the same time there were in operation 932 locomotives and 25,790 carriages, most of them cargo carriages. The number of passengers and the quantities of cargo transported on rail greatly increased during this period, making Romanian Railways a profitable company. From 648,000 passengers and 376,000 tons of goods carried in 1873, the amounts grew in 1914 to 11,569,000 passengers and 10,899,000 tons of cargo. Most of the commodities were represented by grain and other agricultural goods, although we have to notice the great increase of oil quantities carried by rail.

Returning to the situation of the railroads connecting Galaţi to the country, the Moldavian outlet was to serve as a relay on the backbone of Romanian railroads started in 1868 and completed a couple of years later. However, due to technical difficulties in getting the line from the outer plain to the commercial and industrial area in the valley of the city (where the harbour was situated), Galaţi was only linked to the backbone by a branch line, a fact severely criticised by local economic circles[2]. By the excavation of a tunnel and the building of a new railroad between Hanu Conachi and Şerbeşti (30 kilometres), carried out during the period August 1881 – September 1882, the bypass was reduced, but the city and the harbour were not a relay along the continuous network of national railways, but rather the terminus of two different routes, one connecting it to northern Moldavia (via Tecuci – Mărăşeşti – Roman, and by connection lines further towards other destinations), and the other to the capital city of Bucharest, via Brăila and Buzău[3].

Another important line was that from Galaţi to Bârlad, an important junction for the connection with the agricultural districts of northern Moldavia. The project was voted in March 1892, but the actual construction proved extremely difficult, due both to financial shortages and to technical problems, such as the instability of the soil. Works started in 1892 from both ends of the route, and the section Galaţi – Ghibărţeni (70.8 km) was opened in 1898, followed in 1900 by the section Ghibărţeni – Bereşti (7.2 km). The works were interrupted during the financial crisis of the early 1900s and resumed in 1906. The most difficult works were for excavating the tunnel of Bereşti, with a length of 3,333 meters, the longest tunnel of simple line in Romania at the time. In 1909 the authorities inaugurated the section Bârlad – Talaşmani (24.1 km) and in 1912 the linking section Bereşti – Talaşmani (6.8 km). Thus, the entire railroad Bârlad – Galaţi (109 kilometres) was functional in 1912[4]. In 1895 there were intentions to build a line between Galaţi and Reni, along a previous military railway that was operational during the war of 1877–1878, and thus connect Romania to Southern Bessarabia[5].

In 1906, daily trains left Galaţi railway station and headed to Bucharest, Constanţa, Piatra Neamţ, Bereşti, Focşani – Tg. Ocna and Jassy[6]. By the early 1890s the railway station was one of the largest in Romania by its incomes (in 1889 this totalled 1,979,784.76 lei). Galaţi also hosted a mechanical plant for the mending of carriages and engines, and was the headquarters of a regional direction of the Romanian Railways. A number of 39,876 civil passengers and 3,653 military ones were recorded by local statistics in 1889, at the same time with 19,558 grain wagons and 5,257 wagons loaded with planks[7].

Picture 4.2.1_1. The Railway Station (1920s)
Source: www.bvau.ro

Picture 4.2.1_2. The Romanian Railways Network (1913)
Source: Ing. Stelian Petrescu, Călăuza Căilor Ferate Române, first edition (Bucharest: Atelierele Grafice Socec, 1913)

Picture 4.2.1_3 The Map of Romanian Railways Network (1930s)
Source: Enciclopedia României, vol. IV, Economia naţională. Circulaţie, distribuţie şi consum (Bucharest: Imprimeria Naţională, 1943), 53.

Table 4.2.1_1

Railways and railway stations, 1869–1915[8]

Year

Length

(km)

Number of railway stations

Number of halts

1869

172

19

-

1870

248

25

-

1871

292

28

-

1872

-

72

-

1873

648

101

8

1874

648

103

6

1875

921

126

7

1876

921

126

7

1877

921

126

7

1878

921

126

7

1879

921

135

9

1880

921

135

9

1881

951

143

9

1882

1,089

143

9

1883

1,200

148

11

1884

1,271

157

12

1885

1,359

162

12

1886

1,402

187

13

1887

1,896

224

17

1888

2,135

236

19

1889

2,409

236

19

1890

2,421

239

20

1891

2,429

239

20

1892

2,470

247

21

1893

2,496

250

21

1894

2,513

251

21

1895

2,534

264

24

1896

2,818

276

24

1897

2,880

276

24

1898

2,916

293

26

1899

3,081

299

26

1900

3,100

300

26

1901

3,149

304

30

1902

3,177

306

31

1903

3,178

306

32

1904

3,179

306

32

1905

3,179

339

-

1906

3,181

341

-

1907

3,186

347

-

1908

3,187

352

-

1909

3,186

337

11

1910

3,437

369

21

1911

3,479

372

21

1912

3,532

377

21

1913

3,549

-

-

1914

3,588

404

39

1915

3,702

404

39

Table 4.2.1_2

Railways built and carried into operation, 1869–1914[9]

Year

Railways (km)

1869

172.3

1870

75.7

1871

44.2

1872

321.0

1873

321.0

1874

21.4

1875

274.0

1879

84.6

1881

90.3

1883

39.4

1884

81.8

1885

60.9

1886

283.5

1887

414.6

1888

124.6

1889

19.1

1892

67.8

1893

16.2

1894

7.5

1895

163.2

1896

140.0

1898

168.8

1899

40.2

1900

7.2

1901

72.0

1902

7.3

1905

2.0

1907

5.8

1910

286.7

1911

17.2

1912

58.2

1914

150.9

Table 4.2.1_3

The cost of railways until 1915[10]

Category of works

Length (km)

Credits

(thousand lei)

Nominal capital issued for the sums effectively spent (thousand lei)

Sums effectively spent (thousand lei)

TOTAL

3.701.7

1,537,614.7

1,198,387.4

1,096,348.9

Railways built “a forfeit” on the expense of the state

175.9

56,032.2

64,179.3

56,032.2

Railways bought by the state

979.1

350,768.2

354,363.5

323,687.4

Railways with concession acts exploited by the state

222.4

61,231.4

61,322.5

61,231.4

Railways built directly by the state

2,324.6

353,979.3

371,039.0

327,827.9

Different works and commands done by the state from different funds

-

715,603.6

347,483.0

327,570.0

Table 4.2.1_4

Means of transportation on the Romanian railways, 1873–1915[11]

Year

Locomotives

Total carriages

Passengers

Mail

Cargo

Cisterns

1873

83

1,765

383

6

1,376

-

1874

106

2,010

404

18

1,588

-

1875

114

2,264

404

18

1,842

-

1876

114

2,550

404

18

2,128

-

1877

114

2,550

404

18

2,128

-

1878

118

2,550

404

18

2,128

-

1879

118

2,707

253

28

2,426

-

1880

141

3,652

274

28

3,350

-

1881

144

3,666

266

28

3,372

-

1882

193

4,691

377

35

4,279

29

1883

193

4,699

377

35

4,287

29

1884

193

4,699

377

35

4,287

29

1885

197

4,769

393

39

4,337

32

1886

227

4,980

425

46

4,509

32

1887

241

5,214

425

46

4,743

32

1888

241

5,796

430

73

5,293

32

1889

265

6,602

700

82

5,820

53

1890

302

7,236

811

82

6,343

53

1891

317

7,551

781

90

6,680

126

1892

335

8,212

772

90

7,350

126

1893

414

9,395

820

89

8,486

140

1894

433

9,454

870

89

8,495

154

1895

433

9,481

875

89

8,517

156

1896

441

10,192

911

93

9,188

177

1897

441

10,081

904

93

9,084

230

1898

449

10,185

917

92

9,176

342

1899

455

10,593

1,042

92

9,459

422

1900

464

11,436

1,038

92

10,306

612

1901

482

11,580

1,031

91

10,455

603

1902

512

11,748

1,042

91

10,615

591

1903

512

11,723

1,030

91

10,602

763

1904

512

11,695

1,020

91

10,584

915

1905

537

12,292

1,019

106

11,167

1,114

1906

588

15,136

1,024

106

14,006

1,546

1907

639

15,316

1,025

106

14,185

1,756

1908

648

15,874

1,144

123

14,607

2,015

1909

688

16,137

1,185

123

14,829

2,028

1910

691

16,506

1,198

133

15,175

2,170

1911

772

19,693

1,443

133

18,117

2,427

1912

821

19,789

1,499

143

18,147

3,271

1913

888

20,116

1,500

153

18,463

3,935

1914

932

21,359

1,497

153

19,709

4,027

1915

932

25,790

1,490

153

24,138

-

Table 4.2.1_5

Passenger and cargo traffic on Romanian railways, 1873–1915[12]

Year

Passengers

Cargo

Thousands

Thousands / km

Thousands

Thousands / km

1873

648

54

376

52

1874

684

57

555

80

1875

779

63

551

88

1876

742

65

579

93

1877

1,350

248

843

182

1878

1,156

200

877

160

1879

730

80

822

131

1880

764

71

795

111

1881

969

80

975

128

1882

1,164

89

1,136

138

1883

1,383

110

1,352

165

1884

1,354

109

1,211

162

1885

1,422

109

1,557

215

1886

1,619

116

1,641

212

1887

1,994

146

2,065

283

1888

2,114

158

2,261

357

1889

2,354

175

2,655

374

1890

2,907

253

3,111

430

1891

4,333

325

3,389

492

1892

5,365

364

3,360

454

1893

5,757

374

4,186

564

1894

6,004

390

3,724

502

1895

5,851

375

3,519

485

1896

6,469

418

4,228

570

1897

5,696

385

3,898

508

1898

5,779

401

4,788

649

1899

7,052

407

3,623

529

1900

5,472

348

3,997

575

1901

5,344

350

4,642

657

1902

5,556

375

4,742

675

1903

5,734

406

5,009

750

1904

5,599

398

4,241

681

1905

6,591

462

5,762

934

1906

7,600

540

6,099

955

1907

8,193

562

6,795

1,001

1908

8,320

582

6,401

999

1909

9,170

631

6,966

1,094

1910

10,233

722

8,264

1,276

1911

11,428

819

10,986

1,478

1912

12,239

877

10,462

1,430

1913

11,083

829

10,360

1,496

1914

11,569

871

10,899

1,230

1915

12,056

-

9,407

-

Table 4.2.1_6

Cargo transported on Romanian railways, by categories, 1876–1914 (thousand tons)[13]

Year

Cereals, vegetables, oleaginous plants, seeds, potatoes

Oil, refined products

Coal

Timber, construction wood

Fire wood

Different iron products

Cement, lime, plaster, cement plates

1876

726

10

15

12

66

16

36

1877

139

8

13

30

47

32

6

1878

236

10

38

33

83

14

44

1879

379

10

21

51

72

13

98

1880

401

12

7

41

71

18

57

1881

517

14

15

35

72

11

76

1882

546

20

24

68

91

19

99

1883

488

29

46

102

116

48

144

1884

417

31

50

135

98

43

140

1885

615

28

50

128

156

29

165

1886

583

23

58

167

169

58

184

1887

783

25

59

163

179

55

388

1888

1,024

30

60

193

223

22

224

1889

1,040

33

78

276

285

19

47

1890

1,117

39

92

324

229

21

54

1891

1,234

49

101

439

310

41

16

1892

1,088

55

107

406

311

42

32

1893

1,616

56

119

411

419

45

28

1894

1,215

64

128

361

394

80

16

1895

1,230

64

135

329

356

56

19

1896

1,767

75

158

340

386

51

17

1897

1,309

85

182

335

390

52

19

1898

1,712

126

250

398

454

72

27

1899

888

176

163

442

407

80

33

1900

1,424

219

111

403

436

43

22

1901

2,214

200

134

500

366

33

10

1902

2,310

200

116

484

414

37

8

1903

2,170

312

119

641

373

49

17

1904

1,329

350

103

636

371

64

27

1905

2,326

470

116

613

335

140

26

1906

2,359

600

117

618

444

158

36

1907

2,155

784

181

760

556

216

51

1908

1,569

769

169

669

559

182

59

1909

1,825

866

179

799

591

180

214

1910

2,808

942

168

800

671

216

227

1911

3,297

1,200

204

884

696

274

286

1912

2,258

1,548

266

654

877

311

312

1913

2,415

1,439

254

736

846

325

286

1914

2,176

1,307

173

456

966

185

257

Table 4.2.1_7

The staff of Romanian Railways, by unit of rolling stock and kilometre of railroad, 1889-1914[14]

Year

Staff

Staff for an engine

Staff for a carriage

Staff for a km of railway

1889

12,739

48.1

1.9

5.3

1890

13,870

45.9

1.9

5.7

1891

15,427

48.7

2.0

6.4

1892

16,334

48.8

2.0

6.5

1893

17,580

42.5

1.9

7.1

1894

17,337

40.0

1.8

6.9

1895

19,365

44.7

2.0

7.7

1896

19,046

43.2

1.9

6.8

1897

20,515

46.5

2.0

7.1

1898

20,129

44.8

2.0

6.6

1899

18,209

40.0

1.7

5.9

1900

17,724

38.2

1.5

5.7

1901

17,867

37.1

1.5

5.7

1902

18,513

36.2

1.6

5.8

1903

19,065

37.2

1.6

6.0

1904

20,299

39.6

1.7

6.4

1905

20,753

38.6

1.7

6.5

1906

23,829

39.9

1.6

7.4

1907

23,807

37.3

1.6

7.5

1908

24,697

38.1

1.6

7.8

1909

26,069

37.9

1.6

8.2

1910

28,301

41.0

1.7

8.2

1911

29,889

38.7

1.5

8.6

1912

31,459

38.3

1.6

8.9

1913

34,422

38.8

1.7

9.7

1914

36,770

39.4

1.7

10.4

Table 4.2.1_8

Transport of passengers and cargo on railways reported by population, 1873–1915[15]

Year

Passengers by 100 inhabitants

Passengers / km

at 1 inhabitant

Tons of cargo for 100 inhabitants

Tons km / cargo for 1 inhabitant

1873

14.9

12.4

8.6

11.9

1874

15.7

13.1

12.7

18.3

1875

17.7

14.3

12.5

20.0

1876

16.7

14.6

13.0

20.9

1877

30.1

55.4

18.8

40.6

1878

25.8

44.6

19.6

35.7

1879

16.2

17.7

18.2

29.0

1880

16.8

15.6

17.5

24.4

1881

21.0

17.3

21.1

27.7

1882

24.8

19.0

24.2

29.4

1883

29.0

23.0

28.3

34.5

1884

27.8

22.4

24.9

33.3

1885

28.7

22.0

31.4

43.3

1886

32.1

23.0

32.5

48.0

1887

39.0

28.6

40.4

55.4

1888

40.8

30.5

43.7

68.9

1889

44.8

33.3

50.5

71.2

1890

54.7

47.6

58.5

80.9

1891

80.3

60.3

62.8

91.2

1892

98.9

67.1

61.9

83.7

1893

104.9

68.2

76.3

102.8

1894

108.3

70.3

67.2

90.5

1895

103.8

66.5

62.4

86.1

1896

113.3

73.2

74.0

100.0

1897

98.3

66.4

67.3

87.7

1898

98.6

68.4

81.7

110.7

1899

118.4

68.3

60.8

88.8

1900

90.5

57.6

66.1

95.1

1901

87.2

57.1

75.8

107.2

1902

89.7

60.6

76.6

109.0

1903

91.2

64.5

79.6

119.2

1904

86.3

61.3

65.4

104.9

1905

101.7

71.3

88.9

144.2

1906

115.4

82.0

92.6

145.0

1907

122.6

84.1

101.7

149.8

1908

122.9

86.0

94.5

147.5

1909

133.6

91.9

101.5

159.4

1910

146.9

103.7

118.5

183.2

1911

161.3

115.6

155.0

208.6

1912

169.2

121.2

144.6

197.7

1913

150.7

112.7

140.9

203.5

1914

148.9

112.1

140.3

158.3

1915

152.7

-

119.1

-

 


[1] Paul Păltănea, Istoria oraşului Galaţi de la origini până la 1918, second edition, edited by Eugen Drăgoi (Galaţi: Editura Partener, 2008], vol. II, 133–134. The general context in Al. Cebuc, C. Mocanu, Din istoria transportului de călători în România (Bucharest: Editura Ştiinţifică, 1967), 113–120 and Const. Botez, Dem. Urma, Ion Saizu, Epopeea feroviară românească (Bucharest: Editura Sport-Turism, 1977), 80–94.

[2] Păltănea, Istoria, II, 133–134.

[3] Ibid., 199–200.

[4] Ion Plesnilă, Istoricul liniei Galaţi – Bârlad (Bucharest: Tipografia Gutenberg, 1898); Titus Enacovici, “Tunelul Bereşti”, Buletinul Societăţii Politehnice, 10 (1912); Păltănea, Istorie, II, 199–200.

[5] Tezaur documentar gălăţean, edited by Cezar Bejan, Alexandru Duţă, Stelian Iordache, Viorica Solomon (Bucharest: Direcţia Generală a Arhivelor Statului, 1988), 265–266; Păltănea, Istoria, II, 135.

[6] Prefectura Poliţiei Galaţi, Indicatorul oraşului Galaţi, cuprinzând adresele tuturor autorităţilor civile şi militare, ale caselor mari comerciale şi ale tuturor instituţiunilor etc. etc. (Galaţi: s.e, s.a), 113.

[7] Moise N. Pacu, Cartea judeţului Covurluiu. Note geografice, istorice şi în deosebi statistice, (Bucharest: Stabilimentul Grafic I. V. Socecu, 1891), 276–278.

[8] Victor Axenciuc, Evoluţia economică a României. Cercetări statistico-istorice, 1859-1947, vol. I, Industria (Bucharest: Editura Academiei Române, 1992), 323 (Table 298: Railways and rail stations, during the period 1869–1947).

[9] Ibid., 324 (Table 299: Railways built and carried into operation yearly, during the period 1869–1939).

[10] Ibid., 324 (Table 300: The cost of the railways from the beginning of the constructions until 1915).

[11] Ibid., 325 (Table 301: Means of transportation on railways, during the period 1873–1915).

[12] Ibid., 328–329 (Table 303: The main traffic of passengers and cargo on railways, during the period 1873–1947).

[13] Ibid., 329–330 (Table 304: Merchandise transported on railways, by categories, during the period 1876–1946).

[14] Ibid., 336 (Table 309: The staff of the Romanian Railways, by unit of rolling stock and kilometre of road, during the period 1889–1947).

[15] Ibid., 341-342 (Table 313: Transport of passengers and cargo on railways, reported by population, during the period 1873–1947).


References

Websites:

Archival sources:

Serviciul Judeţean Galaţi al Arhivelor Naţionale (The National Archives, Galaţi Branch), Primăria oraşului Galaţi (The Municipality of Galaţi), files starting with 1831.

Serviciul Judeţean Galaţi al Arhivelor Naţionale (The National Archives, Galaţi Branch), Prefectura judeţului Covurlui (The Prefecture of Covurlui County), files starting with 1848.

Bibliography:

Axenciuc, Victor, Evoluţia economică a României. Cercetări statistico–istorice, 1859–1947, vol. I, Industria [Romania’s Economic Evolution. Statistical–Historical Researches, 1859–1947, vol. I, The Industry] (Bucharest: Editura Academiei Române, 1992).

Bastache, I., Situaţia judeţului Covurlui. Expunere prezentată Consiliului Judeţian în sesiunea sa ordinară de la 15 octombrie 1913 [The Situation of Covurlui County. Exposition Presented to the County Council in Its Ordinary Session of 15 October 1913] (Galaţi: Tipografia “Dunărea”, 1913).

Botez, Const., Urma, Dem., Saizu, Ion, Epopeea feroviară românească [Romanian Railway Saga] (Bucharest: Editura Sport-Turism, 1977).

Cebuc, Al., Mocanu, C., Din istoria transportului de călători în România [From the History of Passenger Transportation in Romania] (Bucharest: Editura Ştiinţifică, 1967).

Duca, I. Gh., Raport general asupra stării căilor ferate şi administraţiunii lor şi asupra mijloacelor de îmbunătăţire [General Report on the State of the Railway and Their Administration and on the Means to Improve It] (Bucharest: s.e., 1893).

Enacovici, Titus, “Tunelul Bereşti” [The Tunnel of Bereşti], Buletinul Societăţii Politehnice, 10 (1912).

Enciclopedia României, vol. IV, Economia naţională. Circulaţie, distribuţie şi consum [Romania’s Encyclopedia, vol. IV, The National Economy. Circulation, Distribution and Consumption], edited by Dimitrie Gusti at alii(Bucharest: Imprimeria Naţională, 1943).

Mănescu, Const., Istoricul căilor ferate din România [The History of Railways in Romania] (Bucharest: Editura Direcţiunii Generale a Căilor Ferate Române, 1906).

Pacu, Moise N., Cartea Judeţului Covurlui. Note geografice, istorice şi în deosebi statistice [The Book of Covurlui County. Geographical, Historical and Mainly Statistical Notes] (Bucharest: Stabilimentul Grafic I. V. Socecu, 1891).

Păltănea, Paul, Istoria oraşului Galaţi de la origini până la 1918 [The History of Galaţi from Its Beginnings to 1918], second edition, edited by Eugen Drăgoi (Galaţi: Editura Partener, 2008).

Petculescu, N. I., Problema C.F.R. Istoric, completări, îmbunătăţiri [The Problem of the Romanian Railways Company. History, Completions, Improvements] (Bucharest: Cultura Naţională, 1923).

Petrescu, Stelian, Călăuza Căilor Ferate Române [The Guide of Romanian Railways], first edition (Bucharest: Atelierele grafice Socec, 1913).

Plesnilă, Ion, Istoricul liniei Galaţi – Bârlad [The History of the Line Galaţi – Bârlad] (Bucharest: Tipografia Gutenberg, 1898).

Tezaur documentar gălăţean [Treasure of Galaţi Documents], edited by Cezar Bejan, Alexandru Duţă, Stelian Iordache, Viorica Solomon (Bucharest: Direcţia Generală a Arhivelor Statului, 1988).

Un cetăţean, Inegalităţile estreme ale agencilor a Companiei Strousberg în espropriaţiunea pentru causa de utilitate publică din judeţul Covurluiului [The Extreme Inequalities of the Agents of the Strousberg Company in the Expropriation for the Cause of Public Utility in Covurlui County] (Galaţi: Tipografia Frédéric Thiel, 1870).


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