The Journal of Economic History


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

a1 Lecturer in Economic History, Department of Economic History, London School of Economics, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, United Kingdom. E-mail:


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.