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Railroads (called "railways" in British English) are a vital feature of Imperialism and Imperialism 2. Railroads link tiles to your capital, making resources available for use. They appear also in some scenarios of Trade Empires.

Imperialism

Main article: Railroad (Imp1)

Building railroads

Construct a section of railroad by having an engineer in one of the tiles you wish to join and clicking on the target tile.

If you have the technology required to build into the target terrain and the terrain the engineer is on, you should see an icon of railroad track above the target tile before clicking. Swamps, hills, and mountains are not available at the start of a standard game. Swamps become available soonest, in about 1821 with the purchase of the Iron Railroad Bridge technology.

If the $100 or more cost would take you over your credit limit, you will get a polite message from your Interior Minister advising that the treasury cannot meet the cost.

Troop movement

The subsidiary value of your transport system, in addition to its regular job of carrying items to your capital, is the rapid movement of Army units to non-adjacent provinces (even overseas). An attempt to move them will show a black railroad engine icon. However, the caoacity for that is based on your number of freight cars, not on your length of railroad.

Imperialism 2

The specific article has not been created for (or "Railroad" is not part of) Imperialism 2

In Imperialism 2 you must wait for the research of Early Steam Engine before you can build railroads. Even then, they can't immediately go everywhere. But wherever they go, they increase your resource haul per tile from 2 to 4.

Trade Empires

Railroad is not present in (or the article has not been created for) Trade Empires

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