Government help

The railway network in Britain could not have developed without the help of the British government.

  • An Act of Parliament was needed to build a railway line, but the government made no attempt to limit the number of lines built or to specify whether the lines should even link up.
  • Once railways became a success, Parliament introduced the 1844 Railway Act, which required railway companies to sell cheap tickets. This allowed the working class to travel by train - the so-called Parliamentary train.
  • In 1846, Parliament also passed the Gauge Act, which forced railway lines to be built at a uniform width of 4 feet, 8.5 inches across the country.