1844 Railway Act

In 1839 Parliament passed legislation that attempted to regulate the railway industry. This involved setting up a railway department at the Board of Trade. After a couple of years the Board of Trade inspectors who were responsible for supervising the railway companies, began complaining that government regulations were constantly being ignored.

In 1844 William Gladstone, the President of the Board of Trade, proposed a new railway act. This legislation made it possible for the government to take over a private company which had not complied with the Board of Trade regulations. The 1844 Railway Act also required each company to run one passenger train a day along the length of their line at the cheap rate of one penny a mile (1.6 km). The carriages on this train had to be provided with seats and protected from the weather. This legislation resulted in a considerable improvement in the quality and availability of third-class railway travel.