Previous writers on Victorian railways have often suggested (simultaneously) that the railway system was a success because many lines were constructed, and a failure because many of these lines duplicated each other. This book has shown unambiguously that the railways were a failure in the specific sense that the same quality of service could have been provided with only two-thirds the amount of track, provided that the tracks had been laid along more efficient routes. These routes would have created an integrated national network composed of rational regional sub-systems. This outcome could only have been achieved, in practice, by indicative planning. Although Gladstone piloted an indicative planning system at the Board of Trade, full implementation was blocked by Members of Parliament, who believed that the consequent rationing of railway construction would lead to the rejection of railway schemes in their constituencies, and so prove unpopular with the electorate.
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