🔗 Railway Time

🔗 Trains 🔗 Trains/UK Railways 🔗 Trains/Rail transport in Germany

Railway time was the standardised time arrangement first applied by the Great Western Railway in England in November 1840, the first recorded occasion when different local mean times were synchronised and a single standard time applied. The key goals behind introducing railway time were to overcome the confusion caused by having non-uniform local times in each town and station stop along the expanding railway network and to reduce the incidence of accidents and near misses, which were becoming more frequent as the number of train journeys increased.

Railway time was progressively taken up by all railway companies in Great Britain over the following seven years. The schedules by which trains were organised and the time station clocks displayed were brought in line with the local mean time for London or "London Time", the time set at Greenwich by the Royal Observatory, which was already widely known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

The development of railway networks in North America in the 1850s, India in around 1860, and in Europe, prompted the introduction of standard time influenced by geography, industrial development, and political governance.

The railway companies sometimes faced concerted resistance from local people who refused to adjust their public clocks to bring them into line with London Time. As a consequence, two different times would be displayed in the town and in use, with the station clocks and the times published in train timetables differing by several minutes from that on other clocks. Despite this early reluctance, railway time rapidly became adopted as the default time across the whole of Great Britain, although it took until 1880 for the government to legislate on the establishment of a single standard time and a single time zone for the country.

Some contemporary commentators referred to the influence of railway time on encouraging greater precision in daily tasks and the demand for punctuality.

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