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

  • LEUNIG, TIMOTHY

This paper reassesses and extends Hawke’s passenger railway social savings for England and Wales. Better estimates of coach costs and evidence that third class passengers would otherwise have walked reduce Hawke’s social savings by two-thirds. We calculate railway speeds, and the amount and value of time saved by railways. Initially small, time savings was three times fare savings by 1912, when total railway passenger social savings exceeded 13% of GDP. The transition from railways saving money to saving time came when railway technology stopped simply fulfilling existing demand more cheaply (travel for the affluent) and became a new good (travel for the masses).

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Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal The Journal of Economic History.

Volume (Year): 66 (2006)
Issue (Month): 03 (September)
Pages: 635-673

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Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:66:y:2006:i:03:p:635-673_00
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  1. Nicholas Crafts, 2004. "Regional GDP in Britain, 1871-1911: some estimates," Economic History Working Papers 22557, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  2. Summerhill, William R., 2005. "Big Social Savings in a Small Laggard Economy: Railroad-Led Growth in Brazil," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(01), pages 72-102, March.
  3. Crafts, Nicholas & Mulatu, Abay, 2004. "What Explains the Location of Industry in Britain, 1871-1931," CEPR Discussion Papers 4356, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. William D. Nordhaus, 2004. "Schumpeterian Profits in the American Economy: Theory and Measurement," NBER Working Papers 10433, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Bogart, Dan, 2005. "Turnpike trusts and the transportation revolution in 18th century England," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 479-508, October.
  6. Baker, William J., 1971. "Railways and Economic Growth in England and Wales 1840-1870. By G. R. Hawke. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970. Pp. xiv, 421. $19.25," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(03), pages 718-719, September.
  7. Fogel, Robert William, 1979. "Notes on the Social Saving Controversy," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 39(01), pages 1-54, March.
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