Our Notes & References
Rare statistical work on the Russian Railways, at a relatively early stage of development, complete with its detailed folding map.
A lovely example, inscribed by the author to the French Minister of Public Works.
Russia’s first public railway line, between Saint Petersburg and Tsarskoe Selo, was inaugurated in 1837. Over the next few decades, both the state and private companies laid several new lines in European Russia. Serious track building, however, did not get underway until the reign of Alexander II, when grand reforms were undertaken in the wake of Russia’s defeat in the Crimean War. In 1865, the Department of Railways was integrated into the newly formed Ministry of Communications, and a comprehensive development plan for the railways drawn up. Proposals were made for tracks to the south (Moscow-Sebastopol), east (Orel-Saratov), west (Orel-Smolensk-Vitebsk-Daugavpils), and south west (Ekaterinoslav-Rostov).
The present volume charts the progress of railway building in Russia since 1837 and offers extensive statistics on the state of the railways in the country, primarily for a foreign audience. The fourteen different tables of statistics not only include dates, measurements, passenger numbers, quantity of goods travelled, etc., but also the infrastructure costs and returns. From 1867 onwards much of the financing for railway building was raised from bonds and, according to the introduction, Statistique des Chemins de Fer Russes was intended to serve in part as a kind of investment brochure, promoting railway building as offering a good commercial return for foreign capital.
The French politician and historian Jules-Auguste Hovyn de Tranchère (1816-1898) was actively involved in helping expand the Russian railway network under Tsar Alexander II. He seems primarily to have worked in the private sector, likely helping to raise investment for construction, as well as indulging in a degree of speculation himself. During the early years many foreign engineers and administrators, particularly from France, were involved in building and running the railways in the country. French businessmen and entrepreneurs were also heavily involved in securing private capital for the railroad network in the latter part of the nineteenth century.
Scarce. WorldCat locates only 2 copies in the US (NYPL and Wisconsin), 3 in France (BnF, Strasbourg and Institut de France) and 2 other in Europe (Darmstadt and Madrid).
Provenance French Ministry of Public Works (Library stamp to title).