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Time is Money: A Re-Assessment of the Passenger Social Savings from Victorian British Railways

  • TIMOTHY LEUNIG (a1)
Abstract

This article assesses train speeds in England and Wales 1843–1912. Trains were fast compared with coaches or walking, and the social saving of time saved grew over time to become over 10 percent of national income in 1912. Including fare savings as well, social savings were 14 percent of national income in 1912, with consumer surplus of 6 percent. Time savings dominated fare savings once railways became a new good: travel for the masses. Using the social savings-total factor productivity identity, we show that railways accounted for around a sixth of economy-wide productivity growth in this era.

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Primary Sources

The Railway Returns data were taken from the following issue of Parliamentary Papers, some of which give data for more than one year.
1850 52, 1851 51, 1852 48, 1854 62, 1854–5 48, 1856 54, 1857 38, 1859 25, 1859 sess 2 27, 1860 61, 1862 53, 1863 57, 1864 53, 1865 49, 1866 63, 1867 62, 1867–8 62, 1868–9 54, 1870 59, 1873 57, 1876 65, 1883 60, 1884 69, 1885 68, 1886 58, 1887 72, 1888 89, 1889 68, 1890 65, 1891 75, 1892 70, 1893–4 79, 1894 75, 1895 86, 1896 74, 1897 77, 1898 81, 1899 85, 1909 76, 1910 79, 1911 70, 1912–3 75, 1913 58.

Other Parliamentary Papers

1837, vol. 20, report from the Select Committee on Internal communication taxation
1840, vol. 13, Reports from Committees: Railways
1867, vol. 38, part 1, p. 53, Report from Commissioners: Railways

The Times

Issue 5,198, 29 August 1801; Issue 5,202, 3 September 1801; Issue 5,400, 26 April 1802; Issue 7,246, 1 January 1808; Issue 9,008, 6 September 1813; Issue 8,343, 17 October 1814; Issue 9,450, 21 February 1815; Issue 11,152, 24 January 1821; Issue 11,217, 11 April 1821; Issue 11,570, 29 May, 1822; Issue 11,598, 01 July 1822; Issue 11,822, 18 March 1823; and Issue 11,873, 16 May 1823.

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