The Radiality of the Railway Network in Spain during its Early Stages (1830-67): An Assessment of its Territorial Coherence
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The initial period of construction of the Spanish railway network is often criticized for its radial structure, centered on Madrid. In this article, the authors describe the role of the state during the initial stage of railway network construction and confirm that although the political will to construct a centralist network certainly influenced its morphology, other social and economic criteria were also influential. With regard to the political motives behind the radial network, the authors argue that part of this interest could have come in response to perceived needs to strengthen the presence of the Spanish state throughout its national territory and to promote a process of state-building. Finally, it must be stressed that the central hypothesis of our article is that the radial structure of the network was a natural consequence of the strategic geographical position of the country’s capital and of the distribution of economic activity within Spanish territory. The article proposes two methodological approaches for evaluating the extent to which the radial design of the network was justified, bearing in mind the locations of Spain’s most productive regions. The results of these two exercises suggest that the radial configuration with which the Spanish rail network was originally designed probably arose naturally as a result of the distribution of economic activity within the country and of the relative advantage that this bestowed on certain regions due to their geographic position.
Is part ofSocial Science History, 2021, vol. 45, special issue 2, p. 363-389
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Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as cc-by (c) Martí-Romero, Jaume et al., 2021
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