Tuesday, 17 June 2014

"We would have the public…somewhat more mindful" a view on the benifits of railways from 1856

We would have the public…somewhat more mindful of the benefits they have already derived from the railways; it would improve their patience under evils for the time unavoidable…They save the public two-thirds of their time in transit, and two-thirds in fares and tills; they have given us the penny post, which would not have existed without them; they have intersected the country with telegraph wires employing 3000 persons, stretching a distance of 86,000 miles and flashing a million messages a year, many of them to and from places hundreds of miles apart; they have reduced the cost of many articles of general consumption, and rendered others common where nature seemed to plant an interdict against them…In 1854 they transported 111,000,000 passengers…in such safety that in the first half of the year but one accident happened to every 7,195,341 passengers. In these journeys, each passenger gains an hour in time, amounting in all to 38,000 years of working life at eight hours a day. Supposing the day’s labour to be worth three shillings, these deplorable railways save the nation £2,000,000 a year in the item of time alone.

Chamber’s Journal (1856), 227

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