With the introduction of the railways, the focus was initially on 1st and 2nd class travel, in line with the system already in place on stagecoaches. Consequently, only those who could afford the high prices, which when compared with coach travel, were not cost effective, felt the impact of this revolutionary mode of transport. It was only when prices were reduced across the board that the railway craze really began to take off. Additionally, the 1844 Railway Act included a clause which made it mandatory for at least one 3rd class train in each direction of travel, to be available a day. This penny-a-mile fare enabled those of low income to travel and subsequently their use of the railway grew significantly faster than that of either the 2nd or 1st class passengers.
Comparison of the records from 1859 and 1873 demonstrate the extent of this. Across the British Isles, the percentage of 2nd class passengers halved while that of 3rd class users rose by 25%. This stark contrast naturally had an impact on profits. One of those companies particularly badly affected was the Midland Railway company, which saw a revenue from 2nd class passengers of 7d. per mile as opposed to 2s. 8d. per mile from 3rd class passengers. In response to this rise in popularity of the cheapest fare, the company took the revolutionary approach of abolishing the 2nd class tickets altogether. Instead, they invested money in improving the comfort of 3rd class carriages, while reducing the fare for 1st class passengers. Understandably, there was significant reaction to this. Competitors of the Midland protested at the precedent that this set and those passengers who could not afford the 1st class fares but wished to avoid the ‘lower sort’ in 3rd, found that this was no longer an option. It is interesting to note that in real terms, these changes and the improvements made in the delivery of them, resulted in 1st and 2nd class style accommodation being provided at the price of 2nd and 3rd, a point that was noted by the press at the time, after the initial uproar.
This is interesting to those looking at the Midlands and Great Northern Joint Railway, as the creation of this line in 1893 from (as the name suggests) the Midland and Great Northern Railway companies, meant that this policy was in place from the beginning. 2nd class trains never ran on the M&GN lines. Consequently, trains to and from Norwich City, only ever provided 1st or 3rd class accommodation.
 Robert Stephenson at the 1839 Railway Select Committee, The Transport Revolution 1770-1985, Dr Philip Bagwell, p97
https://www.countrylife.co.uk/country-life/meet-super-commuters-68355, January 25, 2015 accessed 16/01/19
https://www.bluebell-railway.co.uk/bluebell/car_fs1.html, accessed 16/01/19
https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/James_Joseph_Allport, accessed 16/01/19