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CFR is divided into four autonomous companies: The first railway line on Romania's present-day territory was opened on 20 August 1854 and ran between Oravița in Banat and Baziaș, a port on the Danube.
The line, which had a length of 62.5 km, was used solely for the transportation of coal.
From 12 January 1855, the line was operated by Imperial Royal Privileged Austrian State Railway Company, the Banat province being at that time part of the Austrian Empire.
After several improvements in the following months, the line was opened to passenger traffic from 1 November 1856.
The Bucharest-Giurgiu line, the first line constructed in the Kingdom of Romania, was also placed under the administration of CFR during this time.
Hence, by 1889, the Romanian state became the owner of all of the lines in the Kingdom of Romania, the railway system having a total length of 1,377 km.
In May 1868, the Romanian state concluded an agreement with another German consortium, known as the "Offenheim Consortium", for the construction of several shorter railways in the region of Moldavia.
On 1 September 1865, the English company John Trevor-Barkley began construction on the Bucharest–Giurgiu line.
In 1870, the Iași railway station was inaugurated and the lines were progressively opened from December 1869 to November 1871.
Due to the poor management of the lines by the Offenheim Consortium, they were placed under the management of CFR in January 1889.
The network is significantly interconnected with other European railway networks, providing pan-European passenger and freight services.
CFR as an entity has been operating since 1880, even though the first railway on current Romanian territory was opened in 1854.