The Regulation of Railways By the State
From the earliest days of railway enterprise, there has been in almost every country a very close contact between the railways and the State. A railway company is limited to the exercise of the powers contained in its special Acts, and it may not apply its funds to unauthorized objects nor engage in any business not permitted either explicitly or implicitly. British railway companies are regulated by their own special Act or Acts and by a long series of general Railway Acts. All passenger lines and stations before they are opened for traffic must be inspected and passed by the Ministry's Inspectors, as must any subsequent alteration of stations and signalling. By the Light Railways Act 1896 the Minister of Transport is empowered to make 'Orders' containing all the powers necessary for the compulsory acquisition of land and for the construction of a light railway.