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Railway regulation in 19th Century Britain: the economic rationale and legacy of Gladstone and Chadwick


  • Mark F. Bailey

    (University of Ulster)


This paper examines the economic rationale of the ideas of Gladstone & Chadwick on railway regulation and the legacy of their ideas. In 1844 Gladstone proposed and implemented what we would now call price and quantity regulation whereas in 1859 Chadwick proposed competition "for the field", i.e. the establishment of a temporary monopoly or franchise, for a given period. The thinking of Gladstone had been influenced by the classical school of economic thought, most notably J R McCulloch, whilst Chadwick had ideas influenced by his association with Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. This ideas still impact today; the basic pattern of price and some quantity regulation inaugurated by Gladstone was not abolished until the 1960 Transport Act whilst Chadwicks idea of temporary licenses or franchises came back into vogue when the railways were privatised in 1997.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark F. Bailey, 2003. "Railway regulation in 19th Century Britain: the economic rationale and legacy of Gladstone and Chadwick," Method and Hist of Econ Thought 0307001, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpmh:0307001
    Note: Type of Document - Acrobat PDF; prepared on IBM PC; to print on A4 Acrobat PDF; pages: 28 ; figures: included. 28 pages, Acrobat PDF, A4

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    More about this item


    Britain; nineteenth century; railway regulation; classical school; J R McCulloch; Edwin Chadwick; John Stuart Mill;

    JEL classification:

    • B12 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Classical (includes Adam Smith)
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • L92 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Railroads and Other Surface Transportation


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