Exercise 49 Read and translate the following combinations.

By means of railroads; the safest means of travel; to run much faster than; to develop a speed; to develop a new method; due to the advanced technologies; to run a factory; to operate well; to be far slower and lighter; much more comfortable than; not so important as; thanks to new developments; the most powerful modern locomotives; to introduce electricity as tractive power; the introduction of diesel traction; to be ready to meet the challenges; the passenger and freight service; the invention of a steam engine; to draw a train; to be the backbone of any country’s economy; to be as successful as; to compete successfully; in terms of construction speed; to combine comfort and safety; to resemble aircraft in design.


Exercise 50 Match the words in the left column with the corresponding synonyms in the right one.

Goods, to be over, means of transport, safe, to resemble, high speed, to draw, to think, travel, to run, to build, thanks to, competition, to develop, to offer. Freight, to come to an end, fast, to pull, to operate, to propose, to construct, due to, to invent, contest, to consider, journey, reliable, vehicle, to be like.


Exercise 51 Pre-text discussion.

Do you know which country was the birthplace of railways? Do you remember any names or dates associated with rail history? What do you know about the early days of railways? What did the first trains and carriages look like? When was ‘the golden age’ of railway? What would you say about its present and future? Give some facts to prove that railway is the backbone of any country’s economy.




(1) Millions of people all over the world spend their time travelling either for pleasure or on business. Some choose automobiles for comfort and mobility; others prefer air travel especially if the distance is long and time is short. Anyway, railway is by far the most popular means of travel. In combining speed, comfort, safety and perfect service railways have no superior. But their most important function is to carry freight. Railways account for a major part of freight transportation, being, in fact, the backbone1 of the national economy.

(2) The world is now a very different place from when railways were developed. In May 2004 Britain’s National Railway Museum in York organized festivities to commemorate2the birth of the world’s first steam locomotive 200 years ago. The idea behind Railfest 2004 was to track the progress of rail transport from Richard Trevithick’s locomotive of 1804 to Britain’s new flagship3 Pendolino train. To better realize the challenges for modern railways, let us also look back at their start.

(3) The first trains were drawn by horses and transported such products as coal, ore and timber in mines and factories. Later on, the horse railways were used as passenger transport in large cities. However, the boom years of early railways began with the invention of the steam engine at the end of the 18th century. One of the first attempts to use the steam engine for trains was made in 1808 by Richard Trevithick, an English engineer, who demonstrated his working model in London. This locomotive was looked at with great interest when it ran on a circular track of iron rails. For a shilling the public could travel in a carriage drawn by the steam engine. The locomotive was called ‘Catch-me-who-can’, and people could really catch it because it developed only 12 miles per hour (mph). The locomotive was too heavy and finally broke the rail, thus ending Trevithick’s career as an inventor. Yet, he can be rightly credited4 as the father of steam locomotive.



(4) At about the same time, George Stephenson, an engineer of the coalmine of Killingworth, England, constructed the engine called Locomotion. This locomotive was much smaller and lighter than the steam locos developed later on, and it was much slower. However, it could draw a small train of loaded cars on the railway and developed an unheard-of speed of 13mph (21km/h). Stephenson was also the builder of the world’s first public railway – the Stockton & Darlington Railroad (1825) using both steam and horses as tractive power. It began regular service with the only locomotive every day except Sunday.

Yet, Stephenson’s really big triumph came in 1829 when he was asked to build another railway, now steam-powered, between Liverpool and Manchester. It was the first truly successful passenger railway in the world. The company offered a prize of 500 pounds for the best steam train. The prize was won by George Stephenson with his famous train The Rocket, which is now in London’s Science museum. It could travel at 29mph, which was very fast at that time. Soon the steam-powered railways were already in wide use. By 1854 every town of any size in England was connected by rail.

(5) The invention of steam locomotives made the railway the first and the most important means of mass transportation. In fact, until the invention of the motorcar in the early 20th century, railway had a monopoly on land transport.

(6) The first two steam locomotives built in Russia were made by the Cherepanovs, father and son, who were skilled mechanics in the Urals (1835). Many people had doubts about the possibility of using steam engines in the Russian winter. In 1837 the first public railway – a     15-mile line between St Petersburg and Tsarskoe Selo was built. In 1891 Trans-Siberian railway construction began which in terms of construction speed (12 years), length (7500km), and volume of work completed was the largest in the world. Europe got an access to the Pacific Ocean via Asia.


(7) Since that time many changes have taken place on railways. At present, the total length of the Ukrainian railway system is 22,800 km ranking fourth in the world after Russia, the United States and Canada.

Sometimes one can hear that the ‘golden age’ of railways is over because we live in the age of high technologies and super-high speeds. Modern railways are ready to meet these challenges. They compete effectively in the transportation market of the new global economy. Due to computer technologies high-speed trains become more and more ‘intelligent’. They resemble aircraft in design, fully automated operation and speed (the world speed record now is 581 km/h). Advances in rail transportation will make the trains still more powerful and our travel more comfortable with each coming decade.


1 backbone – основа, стержень

2 festivities to commemorate – свята на честь чого-небудь

3 flagship – флагман

4 he can be rightly credited – його можна по праву назвати

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