There was considerable concern about the cultural changes introduced with the railway network. The Duke of Wellington thought 'they would encourage the lower classes to move about'.
John Ruskin was a vitriolic critic of what he saw as the destruction of the countryside by the advance of the railways:
John Ruskin, Praeterita, 1871-77.
Ruskin was referring to Monsal Dale in Derbyshire. Ironically, the line was closed in 1968, though the viaduct remains for walkers to use.
The spread of railways brought a new complication to everyday life. Trains needed to operate according to a common timetable, but the places they were beginning to serve still observed local time. This might vary by as much as 20 minutes from London (Greenwich) time. During the 1840s most railways in Britain made the decision to run according to London time. This created the potential for considerable confusion, with trains arriving and departing at different times from those shown on the local public clocks. Many towns and cities changed their public clocks over to , though in some places the matter caused considerable debate. The pressure for change was strong, especially from the early 1850s when daily time-signals began to be distributed by electric telegraph from Greenwich. By 1855 nearly all public clocks in Britain showed Greenwich time.
The end of coaching
In Britain, road travel reached a high state of efficiency by 1820. Construction of new roads and continued improvements in road surfaces brought down journey times for both people and goods. Overall passenger capacity was low and fares were high. The introduction of main-line railways, which were both faster and cheaper, rapidly brought all this to an end. At first the stagecoach operators responded by reducing their fares, but this did not work. As the railways advanced, the long-distance coach services collapsed and the infrastructure of road travel decayed. Inns closed, or continued only by serving a purely local clientele. Turnpike trusts were wound up and road surfaces deteriorated.