In 1846, under the impetus of the Berlin Railway Company, 10 German national authorities founded a Prussian railway association with the aim of streamlining their operations the « Verein Deutschen Eisenbahnverwaltungen ». The following year, the railways from the constituent territories of the German Confederation (44 German networks and four networks from the Austro-Hungarian Empire – including the future Yugoslavia
and a part of the Veneto – operating 5234 and 1630 kilometres of lines respectively), established a Union of German Railway Companies in Hamburg.  Subsequently, after the war of 1870- 71, the railways of the Netherlands and Luxembourg joined the Union which, in the lead-up to the First World War, also included the railways of Belgium, Russian Poland and Romania, making a total of 105 450 kilometres of lines.