Railroad history - Conrail, it isn't quite dead

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Good article on the importance of railways in Germany losing WW2.

Despite the uneven development of the network, the USSR had some of the most intensively used track in the world: In 1930 it had 1,738,000 ton-km per km compared to 1,608,000 for the United States. This was achieved by running the railway at a low uniform speed (29 km/hour in 1934), which eliminated delays from trains overtaking one another, reduced track wear, and allowed large numbers of trains to be run on the same stretch of track with primitive signaling. The low axle loading of engines (Э class 17 tonnes 28) and wagons (1934 — 15-tonne load for a two-axle wagon) allowed them to travel around most of the network, and their low load carrying was mitigated by using longer trains. All of these characteristics were ideal for operating railways in areas of military operations.



In the dark days of 1941, there remains one significant Soviet victory, and it was won by the NKPS (Narodnyi Kommissariat Putei Soobshchenia (NKPS; People’s Commissariat of Means of Communication) over the Ostheer. Due to the size of the country, in Russia mobility at the operational level could only be provided by railways, and by denying it to the Wehrmacht and using it effectively itself, the NKPS ensured that the Soviet Union would survive the onslaught. Once it had recovered from the initial shock of invasion, the railwaymen set about evacuating the motive power before it fell into the hands of the Germans: In total they lost around 2,000 locomotives, many of which were unserviceable, out of a total fleet of 24,20066 (1938). At Odessa, a floating dock was filled with track and locomotives driven into it before the dock was towed out to sea, while few of the German’s encirclements contained much rolling stock. The Soviets would lose around 40 percent of their network while losing 15 percent of the motive power, which meant that for the rest of the war they would have an abundance, especially as the wartime economy required less traffic, due to a switch to freight away from passenger traffic. This allowed the simultaneous evacuation of the great cities by millions of Soviet citizens and the war industries’ move to the Urals. However, the key factor in keeping the Soviet Union fighting was its ability to raise new divisions, and this was only possible if the NKPS could gather up the men from the farthest reaches of the Union, deliver them to the depots and then onto the front; at the same time in late 1941, it was transporting the Far Eastern armies to the west. At a time when the German Ostheer was withering away from a lack of replacements, the NKPS was moving millions of men for the Red Army in the other direction, over a network that the Germans were dismissing as old-fashioned and ramshackled.

Germany on the other hand, executed most of its railroad management professionals as they were disproportionately Jewish and continued through the war to allocate scarce rail resources to feed the extermination camps

https://www.hgwdavie.com/blog/2018/...y-operations-in-the-russo-german-war-19411945
 
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