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[Athena] [Appel à communication] Railways, Users and the City: Past, Present and Future

Chronological Thread 
  • From: "Auger, Jean Francois" <J.F.Auger AT>
  • To: "Athena" <athena AT>
  • Subject: [Athena] [Appel à communication] Railways, Users and the City: Past, Present and Future
  • Date: Tue, 21 Jul 2009 19:12:00 +0200
  • Mailscanner-null-check: 1248801240.78969@T9BgLHZ5ZeV5RO4C9WoBpw


Knitting the web

Railways, users and the city: Past, Present and Future


Mechelen, Belgium 27-29 May 2010

The Organizing Committee invites proposals for papers to be presented
at this International Conference to commemorate the 175 anniversary of
the first commercial rail operations on the European continent,
between Brussels and Mechelen, to be held in Mechelen, Belgium, from
27 to 29 May 2010.

The conference is organised by the City of Mechelen and the Belgian
State Railways together with the International Railway History
Association (Scientific support).

This conference should shed light on the complex relationship between
the railways, the cities and the user's consumers of this new
transport mode. Railway lines structure cities and create landscape.
Cities benefit from the railways, like railways benefit from the
cities. Railways bring in new culture, new identities and new
representations. The conference theme is: Railways, users and the
city; Past Present Future. This call for papers asks for papers in
this thematic approach but with a large open view on the topic.

The early 1830s brought not only new forms of transport, but also the
speed of the new transport system created new demand for travel, new
forms of labour relations and structured the cities in more than one
way. New railway lines changed nineteenth century travel behaviour. To
that extent broader and comparative research into the experiences of
nineteenth century rail operations and travel is needed in order to
help understand the demand for speed and distance in the twenty-first
century. Rail exploitation comes into a living world of travel and
transport experiences. Road networks have existed for many centuries,
and railways will add a new dimensions and functions to that existing
road network.

The railway station was a new object, a new place and a new building
in the city's environment. A new territory was born, a place of
exchanges that brought cities within a network of national and
international connections. With a railway station a city became part
of a greater chain of production and consumption in a network without
borders. If the railway station became a kind of territorial marker
for the cities, it stressed not only the hierarchic relation within
the town, but also the position and role of the city in that new
network. But a railway station was also constructed within the
rationale of a network, built up by others. In the nineteenth century
inhabitants and the town council had a lot of questions about that new
place of commerce and travel. The need to accommodate the railway
companies posed new questions to city councils, not only about the
level of urbanism, but also about network building, the geography of
transport and city architecture. Detailed research into the complex
relations between cities and their rapidly growing hinterlands and
into the transformation of cities by the early railway lines will help
us to understand the potential of railway locations for our near

But railway stations also affect people's behaviour in other ways. The
station not only helps to transport the masses; it brings in new
elements in policing the traveler, the user of train transport.

The conference welcomes papers on the first railway experiences in
Belgium and in other countries, with attention to the political,
geopolitical and economic context of the early and the new adaptors,
and the forms of network building, organisational structure and
financing of the early projects. Experiences in a transnational
context international exchange of knowledge, etc. are highly

The conference will also pay a full days attention to railway stations
as new places in or nearby cities; the role they played in structuring
the city and policing the masses; the way an identity is created
within that new entry into town; the user consumer of mobility on 19th
and early 20th century railways; the decline of the railway stations
in the 1950s and 60s and the revival of the railway station at the end
of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century due to new
investments in public transport, implementation of high speed rail,
investments in city development, etc. Therefore, papers are welcome on
these topics.

Papers on new experiences, new uses of heritage railway stations and
redesign of neighbourhoods are highly recommended in order to help
understand the opportunities and threats of the new urban development
planned in Mechelen. A special session or a round table session will
deal with this topic.

We especially encourage transnational and comparative approaches, and
welcome proposals of a more empirical nature, as well as proposals
exploring theoretical or methodological issues. Relevant contributions
are welcome from historians as well as from cultural geographers,
sociologists, anthropologists, urban planners and designers and other
scholars who do not define themselves as historians.

The deadline for abstracts and a short CV (max one page each; Word or
rich text format only) is October 15th. 2009. Please send proposals
to: trein AT

Submitters will be notified by the programme committee by January 15th
2010. Travel costs and accomodation are paid by the organisers for the
conference period (27-29 May 2010). It is the intention of the
organisers to publish the papers after the conference.

Scientific Committee:
Colin Divall Institute of Railway Studies & Transport History
University of York UK; Ralf Roth Wolfgang Goehte University Frankfurt
& IRHA Guy Vanthemsche Vakgroep Geschiedenis Vrije Universiteit
Brussel; Nico Wouters Heritage Centre Lamot and vakgroep Geschiedenis
UA Paul Van Heesvelde International Railway History Association.

  • [Athena] [Appel à communication] Railways, Users and the City: Past, Present and Future, Auger, Jean Francois, 07/21/2009

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