Although there were basic railways of a sort in Britain before the Victorian times, they were simply tracks used for carrying wagons from quarries and mines using horses to carry them along the track. This was all to change though with the invention and introduction of the steam engine throughout Britain.

Railway Mania

In Britain alone 6000 miles of railways were opened between the years of 1820 and 1850. By the end of this time Victorian Britain had a basic network of railways in place that allowed for transportation around most of the country. This was a major part in the growth of the industrial revolution and allowed for not only people to travel faster and easier to other towns and cities, but linked trade, goods and the delivery of mail.

At the same time in history the railways were also being built and expanded in Europe, America and the rest of the world at an amazing pace. There are many Victorian Era railway stations still in use today throughout the world. In Britain there is Paddington, St. Pancras and York among others.

Railway Standardisation Problem

One major hurdle the Victorians would face through the expansion of the railways was that there were at least 5 different gauges of railways in existence. These gauges were the distance between the rails, which meant that trains were only capable of traveling on rails that were designed for them to run on. Goods would have to be unloaded and put on new trains to continue further across the country, which in turn was slowing down the increasing trade and transportation. This problem was not completely solved until later in the Victorian era around the 1890’s.