TH E opening of the Great Northern Railway from Londoncompleted two distinct through routes for traffic between the Metropolis and all the more important producing grounds, manufacturing districts, and ports of the kingdom, and so may be said to have inaugurated a new era in the history of British railways, by making the competition between companies, which prior to this date had found vent mainly in the Committee-rooms of Parliament, a principal factor in the actual working of the lines. That this should happen sooner or later was, of course, an inevitable result of the policy of Parliament, which, without declaring definitely in favour of a competitive system, had never taken any effectual measures to confine companies to separate territories ; but prior to the opening of the Great Northern such competition in working had arisen on a small scale only, and so had been susceptible of speedy extinction. Thus, the first " rate war" in British railway history, that between the Midland Counties and Birmingham and Derby companies, had been put an end to, as we have seen, by the amalgamation of the two into the Midland in 1844; and a little later, when the Midland itself with the Manchester and Leeds had begun to compete with the Grand Junction for through traffic between Lancashire and London, it had been found readily possible to arrange a percentage division of the gross receipts-the first "pool," probably, in railway history-under which the development of business by both routes became the common interest of all three companies.