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JULY and AUGUST : Travel and transport
on land, on water and in the air
How people and goods were moved on land, water and through the air. How the new infrastructure was planned and built.
Travelling today is very different from the Ancient Regime, thanks to railways, canals, harbours, roads, airports. We cross borders without difficulties, travel for commerce, for work or for enjoyment
The industrial society is in particular characterized by the expansion of the production systems: ever larger production centres produce more and more goods. Raw materials must be supplied - especially if they get exhausted in certain old industrial areas. Products must be transported to distribution points, to consumers or to processing industries. The range within which this happens is increasing: transport necessarily has to increase as well in scale as in capacity, a process which must follow the increase of the industrial scale.
The mismatch between the traditional transport systems and infrastructure, and the required mass transport was one of the first bottlenecks for industrial development. Transport between towns, later between regions and countries, and between continents became crucial.
The improvement of country roads and the construction of canals were the solutions from the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. Later railroads, trams, motor cars and bicycles, airplanes transported goods and people over longer and longer distances, faster and faster.
New construction technology and engineering was needed to build roads, bridges, locks, docks, tunnels, landing strips, ... New building types emerged as lock keepers houses, railway stations, airport buildings,... Steam and electric cranes were developed to load and unload the goods.
Transport changed life and even time.
Railways with fast trains (60 till 70 km/hr) and modern communication systems needed the adoption of time standards, as the use of solar time - even within countries - resulted in confusion. Already in the late 1870s a plan for worldwide standard time was outlined. Following this initiative, in 1884 delegates from 27 nations met in Washington, D.C., for the Meridian Conference and agreed on a system basically the same as that now in use.
But, when one reads the old Baedeker tourist guides, one remarks that even in 1910 travellers had to adapt their watch when crossing the French-Belgian borde. The Belgian time, based on the Greenwich time, was 9 minutes behind Paris time, and 4 minutes as regard the time used by French railways. The same when crossing the Belgian-Dutch border, as Belgian time was 20 minutes slow on the Dutch. Luxemburg was also following Greenwich, while there was one hour difference with Germany...
Roads and road transport
Canals and harbours
And in the air
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