An armoured train at the station in Muszyna – 1916

World War I

Railways played a very important role during World War I. Among other things, they were used to transport considerable numbers of soldiers near the front line and to provide them with military equipment and other necessary supplies. Therefore, during the warfare, while conquering successive territories, the parties destroyed the existing railway infrastructure: bridges, culverts, crossovers, turntables, water towers, buildings, coal yards, and sleepers. The Prussians would even destroy their own facilities when they were forced to retreat.


In December 1914 the front became stabilised. At that time, to provide supplies to the front line, railway companies built normal-gauge connections and narrow-gauge railway networks in the direct vicinity of the front line logistics base. On the Russian side the lines: Volodymyr – Sokal (1915), Lublin – Rozwadów (1914), and Kovel – Kamin-Kashyrskyi (1915) where built on which narrow-gauge railways ran on the Lubieszów – Janów Podlaski – Ivatsewichy route. In 1915 – 1918 the Imperial and Royal Military Railway established field railway lines in the present-day Lublin region. Russian authorities carried out identical activities.

The use of railways during World War I: a train carrying wounded Russian prisoners of war
A road and rail vehicle B-Zug built by Ferdinand Porsche – 1916
The use of railways during World War I: a train transporting soldiers to the frontline – 1914

The offensive in May 1915 and the shift of the front line to the east, followed by the return and retreat of Russians in the summer of 1917, contributed to further devastation of the railways. The army destroyed trackway, buildings and numerous civil engineering structures such as bridges on the Prut near Yaremche and Vorokhta.

The rolling stock repair workshop in Radom destroyed during World War I

Armoured trains pulled out on the rails. Among factories producing armoured locomotives and wagons for the army of Austria and Hungary were the Eastern Railway Workshops in Nowy Sącz, Stryi and Stanyslaviv. In Nowy Sącz, among other things, self-propelled, three-axle artillery wagons were assembled in the Popławski-Schober system, which proved successful on the front line in Bukowina. Military authorities, encouraged by the success of such vehicles, ordered the construction of several armoured trains to the factory in Budapest. Ferdinand Porsche, the chief designer at the Austro-Daimler factory, designed innovative road and rail vehicles with wheels propelled individually by electric motors supplied by a generator. They could travel on rails, and when the buffer beams and flanges were removed – they could be used in road traffic. The vehicles were used to haul military trains (in Bukowina), heavy guns and mortars (so-called B-Zug and C-Zug).

Legionists in front of an armoured train near Rava-Ruska
A railway bridge destroyed during World War I
2nd and 3rd Brigade of the Polish Legions at the railway station in Kraków
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© Całość praw autorskich - Antoni Bochen, Filip Wiśniewski