Effects of the Industrial Revolution on transport and communication

People waiting on the platforms in subway tunnels in London in the 19th century.
Subway tunnels in London
  • The world shrank – in 1700 it took four days to get from London to Manchester, but in 1880 it took four hours. Raw materials, goods, food (eg fresh milk) and post arrived faster.
  • Economic growth – the railways needed bricks, cement, sleepers, iron and coal and as a result, those industries were stimulated. In 1847, more than a quarter of a million people worked on the railways. Their wages helped the economy grow.
  • Finance – huge numbers of people bought shares in railway companies. Many later lost their money when the boom ended.
  • The 1844 Railway Regulation Act improved conditions in third-class. In 1883, the Cheap Trains Act made railway companies offer a greater number of cheap trains for workers. Transport became available to more people than ever before.
  • By 1880, it became clear that speedier travel and railway timetables needed the whole country to take up a national standardised time. Before this date people used local time that varied from place to place.
  • The growth of the shipping industry allowed a huge growth in worldwide trade.
  • By 1902, the whole British Empire was linked together by a network of telegraph cables called the 'All Red Line'.