Session I: New perspectives on Portuguese railways
Organizers: Ana Cardoso de Matos (Universidade de Évora); Hugo Silva Pereira (Universidad Nova de Lisboa); y Magda Pinheiro (ISCTE-IUL)

Research about the history of Portuguese railways has taken vigorous steps in the past couple of decades, in the wake of the seminal academic efforts of the 1980s. More recently, the lines built or financed by Portuguese agents in the former colonies of Africa and Asia have attracted the interest of academia. However, and as a consequence of a wider and availability of new primary sources (documents, statistics, iconography), and the development of new concepts and methodological approaches (some of which encompassing different disciplines), it is now possible to revisit the previous historical knowledge and to produce new knowledge about unaddressed issues of the history of railways in Portugal. In this session we welcome proposals that analyse unknown processes in the history of railways in Portugal and its former colonies or that shed new light on subjects previously examined by other authors.

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Session II. Borders and railways
Organizers: Rafael Barquín (UNED); Carlos Larrinaga (Universidad de Granada); Pedro Pablo Ortúñez (Universidad de Valladolid)

The construction of railway networks in Europe was conducted from a national perspective. Immediately after the opening of the first lines, the States adopted a more present role in the financing and planning of its networks. However, rapidly the essence of the railway as a means of transportation of a national scope proved to be inadequate. The national markets of goods and services were incapable of answering the growing economic needs of different countries. Beyond the borders, new business opportunities arose. The international agency of large economic groups, like the Rothschilds, favoured the establishment of synergies between national networks. On the other han, many border regions were particularly dynamic thanks to the development of certain industries. Consequently, the border was, more than a barrier, an additional reason to extend railway networks.

In this session, we invite the presentation of proposals that analyse the planning of international railway networks and/or the cross-border railways interchange of goods and services. Examples of the analysis we look for include: 1) studies about railway projects and accomplishments; 2) studies about the role of large capitalist groups in the planning of international networks; 3) studies about the consequences of transnational railways on national economic sectors or borderlands; 4) studies about the consequences the changes in borders had on railway service and national economies; 5) in general, any research that analyses the issue of the interaction between border and railways. Preferred context is Europe, however, we are willing to consider studies about other continents.

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Session III. The travels of directors and experts: a form of knowledge transfer
Organizer: Miguel Muñoz Rubio (Fundación de los Ferrocarriles Españoles)

Considering that Iberian railways since their inception were dependent on foreign expertise, it was customary for railway companies directors and experts to travel to countries that led the development of this means of transportation, to know the organizing systems and most advanced technologies, and to decide whether to develop those systems and technologies or to import them.

Despite the importance these travels had, as many were the antechamber for several significant decisions (such as the choice of locomotives for the first railway or the implementation of the Scientific Organization of Labour in Renfe’s workshops), our historiography barely did not analyse them.

With this session, we aim to analyse this form of knowledge transfer, by calling for papers about cases of travels of learning, examining: its motives; its description; the knowledge gathered (usually in surveys or reports); and its practical applications, if any.

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Session IV: Land freight transportation: complementarity and competition between railways and roads (nineteenth/twenty-first centuries)
Organizador: José Luis Hernández Marco (Universidad del País Vasco/EHU, jubilado)

Apart from regions served by rivers, until the implementation of railways, freight was transported by land exclusively by carriers, animals, or ox-wagons. Railways soon took the role of medium and long-distance freight (and passenger) transportation, between cities, between regions, and between harbours and the countryside. The growth of exchanges brought about by the industrialization and the changes in the characteristics of railway networks increased the need to transport people and goods from the stations to the urban, semi-urban and rural hinterlands they served, that is at short distances. Therefore, the demand and the offer for this additional transportation service grew dramatically. The development of electrical traction, of urban tramways, and the growth of the railway networks in the suburbia affected significatively the traditional means of transportation of people in the urban scope. Since the First World War in some American regions and some areas of Europe, the initial development of the automobile and of vehicles to carry goods and passengers began competing successfully in the market of short distance transportation. After the Second World War, the technological developments in the automobile industry and the improvements in the planning and construction of roads and motorways rendered the automobile the main means of transportation to transport freight, specially those of higher value or perishability, at medium and long distances. Nonetheless, the spectacular growth of the utilization of containers, tanks, and trailers in the railway sector since the beginning of standardization in the 1960s, both in the national and international service, as well as the development of logistics, paved the way for new possibilities of complementarity and intramodality in freight transportation.The goal of this session is to present discuss papers about the coexistence of railways with other means of land freight transportation, since the nineteenth century to present day, in an international compared perspective. We welcome transport and railway historians and historians of other fields alike.

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Session V: Railways and cities. The impact of railway infrastructures in the urban development of the cities of the Iberian peninsula
Organizers: Jordi Martí Henneberg (Universitat de Lleida); Eduardo Olazabal (Universitat de Lleida); Maria Ana Bernardo (Universidade de Évora)

The research questions that base this session are the following:

How did cities develop and how did the surrounding areas transform since the opening of railway stations? Which commonalities can be identified for each city and do they differ from other cases? Consequently, the goal of this session is to determine the circumstances in which railways contributed to transform the urban spaces of the cities of the Iberian Peninsula. Other countries may be debated as terms of reference.

The railway network promoted a quick interconnection between the main cities of the Iberian Peninsula from the second half of the nineteenth century onwards, a timeframe during which cities began to overcome the isolation created by medieval city walls. As a result, both the location of the station and the railway routes became key-elements for the urban development that followed next. Sources and methodologies for this analysis are varied and may include approaches from different disciplines: economic history, urbanism, architecture, civil engineering, geography, digital humanities, etc.

To facilitate this type of approach and its divulgation, we especially welcome proposals that include the digitation of historical documents, as these allow the interpretation of the relationship between urban space and stations, deemed the new city doors from the second half of the nineteenth century onwards.

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Session VI. Young historians and new perspectives on the history of Ibero-American railways
Organizers: Magda Pinheiro (ISCTE-IUL) and Javier Vidal Olivares (Universidad de Alicante)

This session aims to create an open space for the discussion of new researches by young scholars, about railway history, the railway system, and its different impacts. Recently, a growing interest of young historians by railway history is noticeable. New interests include new conceptual frameworks, new research methodologies and data processing, new original sources, and the study of new geographic areas.

Amidst the new concepts, one may highlight the analysis of the culture of techno-scientific and socio-technical institutions associated with railway operation. In the methodologies it is possible to enhance the use of Geographical Information Systems. New primary sources include the study of maps and railway planimetry and the systematic use of imagery as a key element that supports historical research.

This session will offer a space of debate for all these issues and for other subjects that eventually may be incorporated in the discussion about research on Iberian railway history conducted by junior researchers.

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Sesión VII: Metodología y herramientas para un inventario patrimonial
Organizadores: Ana Cardoso de Matos (Universidade de Évora); Domingo Cuéllar (Universidad Rey Juan Carlos); Aurora Martínez-Corral (Universitat Politècnica de València); y Hugo Silva Pereira (Universidad Nova de Lisboa)

El patrimonio ferroviario (y el industrial, en general) tiene hoy en día una visibilidad que no presentaba hace unos años, lo que ha permitido que su puesta en valor y difusión esté en la agenda política y social de nuestros países de manera casi permanente. Igualmente, museos y otras instituciones de conservación de este patrimonio proliferan con un éxito de público y difusión bastante notable. Todo esto es una excelente noticia.

Sin embargo, consideramos que la labor académica de investigación y sistematización del patrimonio ferroviario no debe perder entidad ante la dimensión mediática que presenta en estos días la cuestión patrimonial. Creemos que es necesario avanzar en una metodología común en la búsqueda de resultados concluyentes que no estén condicionados por cuestiones ajenas al proceso crítico de la investigación social.

En este sentido, queremos convocar a especialistas y estudiosos del patrimonio ferroviario de España y Portugal para una de las sesiones del congreso que se debe realizar en Lisboa en 2020. Por un lado, queremos presentar la sesión en formato taller de debate que ha realizado una sesión previa en Entroncamento este 2019, con el objetivo de madurar los contenidos que se presenten al congreso del año siguiente. Por otro lado, dada la amplitud de temas a tratar, queremos en esta ocasión concretar la línea de trabajo en la arquitectura ferroviaria menos conocida, más allá de los relevantes edificios de viajeros, como talleres, muelles y almacenes, entre otras muchas tipologías. No buscamos análisis individuales, sino estudios de conjunto, bien empresarial o geográfico, que ayuden a avanzar en el desarrollo de inventarios y catálogos.

Animamos, pues, a los investigadores interesados a que presenten propuestas de trabajo y organización de estudio de este patrimonio, bien a través de clasificaciones clásicas de materiales y usos, o a su sistematización, o bien con la utilización de nuevas tecnologías en la aplicación de estos trabajos.


  • Constituir un grupo abierto, más o menos estable, que sistematice la investigación en patrimonio ferroviario.

  • Hacer aportaciones en la construcción de los conceptos básicos del patrimonio ferroviario, así como de la funcionalidad de cada uno de sus elementos.

  • Trabajar en la metodología para la elaboración de modelos de ficha inventario para un patrimonio tan particular como el ferroviario.

  • Ayudar en la elaboración de criterios de conservación.

  • Explorar ámbitos de disciplinas relacionadas con el estudio patrimonial, como arquitectura, biblioteconomía, estadística, tecnología y otras, y su aportación al mismo..

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Session VII. General
Organizer: Francisco Polo Muriel (Fundación de los Ferrocarriles Españoles)

Besides the sessions mentioned previously, the VIII Railway History Conference aims to promote the discussion and the divulgation of studies and researches about issues that are not debated in those sessions. Therefore, the general session welcomes proposals that address any other subject connected to railway history (construction of lines, role of the State, railway legislation, heritage and tourism, railway biographies, railways and imperialism/colonialism, etc.) in different geographical and chronological contexts. We specially invite those researchers that study railway history outside the Iberian Peninsula to submit and present their works.

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