The Coming of the Railways

in Steam-Powered Knowledge

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780226276519
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226276540 | DOI:
The Coming of the Railways

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This chapter analyzes how W. & R. Chambers negotiated the opportunities and challenges of the railways. Businesses that did not specifically need railway speed might well prefer to save money by ordering raw materials by canal or dispatching their goods by steamer. For passenger travel, the railways won the competition wherever they opened. In an article, the Chambers's Journal complained about the high fares on railways. The journal expressed surprise that the directors of railway companies had not yet realized a basic fact, “so obvious to private comprehension”: That markets expand as price gets lower. It accused railway directors of thinking like the eminent publishers, and relying on a small number of customers to pay high prices, rather than embracing the mass market. But both railway companies and publishers had changed their attitude due to lesser fares, and cheap publications were far more widely available.

Keywords: railways; Chambers; passenger travel; Chambers's Journal; fares; cheap publications

Chapter.  3957 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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