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Time is money: a re-assessment of the passenger social savings from Victorian British railways

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  • Leunig, Tim

Abstract

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).

Suggested Citation

  • Leunig, Tim, 2005. "Time is money: a re-assessment of the passenger social savings from Victorian British railways," Economic History Working Papers 22551, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:22551
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Nicholas Crafts, 2005. "Regional Gdp In Britain, 1871-1911: Some Estimates," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 52(1), pages 54-64, February.
    2. 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.
    3. William D. Nordhaus, 2004. "Schumpeterian Profits in the American Economy: Theory and Measurement," NBER Working Papers 10433, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Nicholas Crafts & Abay Mulatu, 2005. "What explains the location of industry in Britain, 1871–1931?," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(4), pages 499-518, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fouquet, Roger, 2012. "Trends in income and price elasticities of transport demand (1850–2010)," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 62-71.
    2. Broadberry Stephen, 2012. "Recent Developments in the Theory of Very Long Run Growth: A Historical Appraisal," Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte / Economic History Yearbook, De Gruyter, vol. 53(1), pages 277-306, May.
    3. Dave Donaldson & Richard Hornbeck, 2016. "Railroads and American Economic Growth: A "Market Access" Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(2), pages 799-858.
    4. Lydon, Rio, 2012. "The eighth wonder of the world: how might access for vehicles have prevented the economic failure of the Thames Tunnel 1843-1865?," Economic History Working Papers 47804, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    5. Bogart, Dan, 2010. "A global perspective on railway inefficiency and the rise of state ownership, 1880-1912," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 158-178, April.
    6. Klein, Alexander & Leunig, Tim, 2013. "Gibrat's Law and the British industrial revolution," Economic History Working Papers 58363, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    7. Miles, David K & Sefton, James, 2017. "Houses across time and across place," CEPR Discussion Papers 12103, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Nicholas Crafts, 2010. "Cliometrics and technological change: a survey," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(5), pages 1127-1147.
    9. Brian Mitchell & David Chambers & Nick Crafts, 2011. "How good was the profitability of British railways, 1870–1912?," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 64(3), pages 798-831, August.
    10. Dan Bogart, 2011. "Did the Glorious Revolution contribute to the transport revolution? Evidence from investment in roads and rivers," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 64(4), pages 1073-1112, November.
    11. Bakker, Gerben, 2009. "Time and productivity growth in services: how motion pictures industrialized entertainment," Economic History Working Papers 27866, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    12. Dorian Gerhold, 2014. "The development of stage coaching and the impact of turnpike roads, 1653–1840," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 67(3), pages 818-845, August.
    13. Fouquet, Roger, 2014. "Long run demand for energy services: income and price elasticities over two hundred years," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 59070, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    14. Tim Leunig, 2011. "Cart or Horse: Transport and Economic Growth," International Transport Forum Discussion Papers 2011/4, OECD Publishing.
    15. Broadberry Stephen & Fremdling Rainer & Solar Peter M., 2008. "European Industry 1700-1870," Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte / Economic History Yearbook, De Gruyter, vol. 49(2), pages 141-171, December.
    16. Campbell, Gareth, 2012. "Myopic rationality in a Mania," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 75-91.
    17. Tim Leunig & Joachim Voth, 2011. "Spinning Welfare: the Gains from Process Innovation in Cotton and Car Production," CEP Discussion Papers dp1050, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    18. Dan Bogart, 2013. "The Transportation Revolution in Industrializing Britain: A Survey," Working Papers 121306, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.
    19. repec:dgr:rugggd:gd-101 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Roger Fouquet, 2013. "Long Run Demand for Energy Services: the Role of Economic and Technological Development," Working Papers 2013-03, BC3.
    21. Berger, Thor & Enflo, Kerstin, 2017. "Locomotives of local growth: The short- and long-term impact of railroads in Sweden," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 124-138.
    22. Nicholas Crafts & Timothy Leunig & Abay Mulatu, 2008. "Were British railway companies well managed in the early twentieth century? -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 61(4), pages 842-866, November.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N0 - Economic History - - General
    • L92 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Railroads and Other Surface Transportation
    • B1 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe

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