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A view from Dave Trott: Too obvious to see

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Railways are only 200 years old.

But actually they’re 2,000 years old, so how does that work?

It was one simple thought that changed them from small local wagonways into a system that revolutionised global transport.

It was the simple thought that made it possible for steam engines to use railways.

So what was that single simple thought?

The ancient Greeks were using wagonways in 600 BC.

If a path is used regularly by wheeled vehicles, it’s more efficient to have a track they can all move on; cut some grooves into rock and movement will be less bumpy and more efficient.

This made sense and was how wagonways progressed for hundreds of years.

But for places where wagonways couldn’t be cut into rock, they used wooden rails with flanges on the side, like an “L” shape, to stop the wheels coming off the rails.

For more than 1,000 years this was how wagonways worked, flanged wooden rails.

By 1758 this was still in use everywhere, like the Middleton........

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