Differences between railway gauges has been the worst of all catastrophes that happened to railways. At the beginning each country, and even each line between two towns, was decided with no concertation with other towns or countries, people commonly thinking that railways would never develop enough for reaching faraway distances and faraway continents. When, near the end of 19th century, most of the industrialized countries had standardised their railway gauges to the famous 1435 mm (4′ 8″ 1/2) gauge said to be «standard gauge».

But some of these countries, building colonial empires, made the economical choice of narrow gauges, often different for each of the colonies of one continent, this destroying any further international development for the African, South America, or Asiatic growing countries. Today, nothing, or so few, has changed: most of the economic problems of these continents are due to the «gauge breaks» existing here and there in these continents.