Following the victory of the German troops against France, German Reich is proclaimed, in January 1871, in the gallery of the ices of the castle of Versailles, the crown being allocated to king de Prusse Guillaume 1st. If an armistice is concluded on January 23, 1871, the peace treaty is initialed only on following 10 May. This one, called Treated of Frankfurt, was the subject of rough negotiations. The financial and territorial impacts are hard for France. Lorraine is shared between the two countries, leaving in France of the old department of the Moselle only the district of Briey; one also removes in Meurthe the districts of Saline Sarrebourg and Castle; the Vosges are cut down by the canton of Schirmeck and partly of that of Saales. Alsace, except for Belfort, is entirely annexed. These territories are integrated in a federal structure receiving the name of Reichsland Elsab -Lothringen (Country of empire Alsace-Lorraine); the inhabitants of the three old departments become thus subjects of new German Reich. The creation of a network of Empire, under the direct supervision of Kaiser and not of Reichsland, comes out from a political will clearly expressed in the treaty of Frankfurt. It is logically in Reich that falls the right to build new lines and in the future this state of things will be always a subject of controversies between Reich and Reichsland. This monopoly will be even still underlined in the constitution of May 31, 1911 granted to Land Elsab -Lothringen, who will specify that the construction of lines of public utility could be done only by Reich or with his downstream. The EL is thus a network nationalized before the hour, phenomenon abrupt by the risks of the history. By ordinance of December 9, 1871, the Imperial General Management of the Railroads EL (General-Direktion Kaiserliche der Eisenbahnen in Elsab - Lothringen) is created in Strasbourg.
The geographical situation of Reichsland supports the rail traffic to the paddle of the First World War. On this date, the economic situation is very flourishing; Reichsland counts then among the richest European areas. The agricultural produce like the wine, the tobacco, the hop, the cereals is regularly exported. The textile and the mechanical engineering are the two large poles of Alsatian industry while Lorraine is distinguished with its iron and steel industry and its extractions from coal and iron ore. Innumerable industries come to enrich the economy like the saltworks, potashes, the careers, the faience manufactures, the breweries, the sawmills, the glassmakings and well of others. Tourism should not be forgotten since the Vosgean destinations attract world well. The network obtained 1200 km of auxiliary traffic lanes under the German administration, that is to say a total of 1985 km including 1394 of principal lines. This evolution, if it can find a base certain in a strategic logic, is also explained by an economic development ever slackened since the middle of the last century. One should not however forget that network EL will have been the proof of the supremacy of the Reich young person vis-a-vis in the powerful German States, in particular those of the Duchy of Bade, Wurtemberg and Saxony. The need for a unification before the hour of the payments and tariffs is with the eyes of Bismarck at the base of a strong and healthy economy. And the combination of the nationalized networks Prussian and Alsatian Lorraine represents a frightening weapon against the private networks of the above mentioned States. Indeed, successive repurchases several independent networks - Hesse and right Rive of the Rhine, by the Prussian network, directly connect Berlin to Reichsland and make it possible to deviate, with blow of tariff measurements, the traffic patterns passing by Saxony or the country of Bade, which impoverishes as much these networks. The Reich will have invested nearly 987 million Marks in the construction of network EL, Reichsland having taken part in height of 43 million Marks.