In the 1920s, European and American cities were in economic, cultural and political overdrive and it was in the midst of this social effervescence, at the beginning of the century, that great advances were introduced and popularized which changed the face of cities and how people lived in them.
The spread of electric light and drinking water into homes, the popularization of the radio, the invention of the television, the first mass-produced car, public bus companies and the golden age of the tram marked the first steps towards smart cities.
It was also at that time, in 1924, when the ‘Gran Metro de Barcelona’ underground railway was put into operation, representing a major step forward for mobility in the early 20th century city. It was also a symbol of modernity for a city that enjoyed a reputation of always being at the forefront of technology and knowledge.
In 2015, as a nod to all those ‘smart cities’ which have pioneered sustainable mobility over the last century, the organizers of the fifth edition of BcnRail-Smart Mobility, in a joint initiative with TMB (Metropolitan Transport of Barcelona), offered attendees of Fira de Barcelona’s International Railway Industry Trade Show the chance to travel aboard the train that inaugurated the first stretch of the ‘Gran Metro de Barcelona’.
The legendary 300-series train came out of its engine shed to relive a historical journey which back then used to cover the 2,470 metres of track connecting the stations of Lesseps and Catalunya on Barcelona’s first metro line. These trains, built between 1920 and 1923 by the now defunct firm, the Euskalduna Company for the Construction and Repair of Ships of Bilbao, were in operation until 1987. To mark the 75th anniversary of the Barcelona metro in 1999, three of the 300-series coaches were restored, and they now make up the TMB’s historic train.
Coming back to Fira de Barcelona’s Gran Via Exhibition Centre, the fifth edition of BcnRail leaps forward 91 years to demonstrate how technical progress continues today with trains that travel at 380 km/h, revolutionary systems for energy savings and new technological advances in both the domestic and international railway industry which is still, a century later, an essential agent for Smart mobility.