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Following decline after World War II due to competition from cars, rail transport has had a revival in recent decades due to road congestion and rising fuel prices, as well as governments investing in rail as a means of reducing CO The history of rail transport began in the 6th century BC in Ancient Greece.

It can be divided up into several discrete periods defined by the principal means of track material and motive power used.

The change from canals to railways allowed for "national markets" in which prices varied very little from city to city.

The spread of the railway network and the use of railway timetables, led to the standardisation of time (railway time) in Britain based on Greenwich Mean Time.

In 1515, Cardinal Matthäus Lang wrote a description of the Reisszug, a funicular railway at the Hohensalzburg Castle in Austria.

Rail transport then commenced in mid 16th century in Germany in form of horse-powered funiculars and wagonways.

Modern rail transport commenced with the British development of the steam locomotives in the early 19th century.

With steam engines, one could construct mainline railways, which were a key component of the Industrial Revolution.

Also, railways reduced the costs of shipping, and allowed for fewer lost goods, compared with water transport, which faced occasional sinking of ships.

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