Benedikt Weibel

  • The railroad before its third century
  • Lecture

The invention of the railroad was preceded by thousands of years of innovation. Where horses had served as the main means of transportation since their domestication at around 15 km/h, the much more powerful trains were now used in one fell swoop. The railroad became the engine of industrialization and changed cities, landscapes and ways of life. Its development was repeatedly marked by crises. After the Second World War, the triumphant advance of the car set in and the railroads seemed to have been sidelined. But as early as the 1950s, people in Japan realized that the flow of traffic in this densely populated country could only be managed by rail. In the meantime, the view has also prevailed in Europe that – 200 years after its invention – the railroad has a more important role to play in the future.

Benedikt Weibel, born in 1946, has worked for the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) since 1978 and was its Director General from 1993 to 2006. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of the French state railroad SNCF, chaired the World Association of Railway Companies and was Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the private Austrian Westbahn for many years. He knows the eventful history of the railroads better than almost anyone and is an inspiring storyteller.

In the series Potholes

Foto: Privat

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