The Grand Junction Railway was an early railway company in the United Kingdom, which existed between 1833 and 1846 when it was amalgamated with other railways to form the London and North Western Railway. The line built by the company was the first trunk railway to be completed in England, and arguably the world's first long-distance railway with steam traction.
The Grand Junction Railway was the most ambitious locomotive project in England to date. It was in 1833 that Parliament first authorized the new company to build the unprecedented 82 miles of track connecting three industrial hubs: Liverpool, Manchester, and Birmingham. The railway was established with the consolidation of two competitors: the Birmingham Liverpool Railway Company and the Liverpool and Birmingham Railway Company in 1832. Workers began construction on the large-scale development with its parliamentary approval and continued for four full years.
Finally, on July 4, 1837, the Grand Junction Railway opened for business, transporting passengers and parcels between the three cities. Just 16 days later, a new line from Birmingham to London began service—so all four urban centers were linked by rail.
The route that brought people and goods between the cities in a matter of hours wove through the English countryside and was recognized as the world’s very first long-distance railway.
The GJR was very profitable, paying dividends of at least 10% from its beginning and having a final capital value of more than £5.75 million (equivalent to £592.39 million now) when it merged with the London and Birmingham Railway and Manchester and Birmingham Railway companies to become the London and North Western Railway in 1846, which in turn formed part of the London Midland and Scottish Railway in 1923.
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