The Liverpool and Manchester Railway (L&MR) was a railway opened on 15 September 1830 between the Lancashire towns of Liverpool and Manchester in England. It was the first railway to rely exclusively on steam power, with no horse-drawn traffic permitted at any time; the first to be entirely double track throughout its length; the first to have a signalling system; the first to be fully timetabled; the first to be powered entirely by its own motive power; and the first to carry mail. John B. Jervis of the Delaware and Hudson Railway some years later wrote: "It must be regarded ... as opening the epoch of railways which has revolutionised the social and commercial intercourse of the civilized world".
Trains were hauled by company steam locomotives between the two towns, though private wagons and carriages were allowed. Cable haulage of freight trains was down the steeply-graded 1.26-mile Wapping Tunnel to Liverpool Docks from Edge Hill junction. The railway was primarily built to provide faster transport of raw materials, finished goods and passengers between the Port of Liverpool and mills in Manchester and surrounding towns.
The railway was a financial success, paying investors an average annual dividend of 9.5% over the 15 years of its independent existence: a level of profitability that would never again be attained by a British railway company. In 1845 the railway was absorbed by its principal business partner, the Grand Junction Railway (GJR), which in turn amalgamated the following year with the London and Birmingham Railway and the Manchester and Birmingham Railway to form the London and North Western Railway.
The Liverpool and Manchester Railway was the first public transport system on land which did not use animal traction power. Up to then, the only rail systems for public use had been:
Often described as the Grand British Experimental Railway the success or failure of which would decide plans for all future railways, the L&MR was intended to achieve cheap transport of raw materials, finished goods and passengers between the Port of Liverpool and east Lancashire, in the port's hinterland. Huge tonnages of textile raw material were imported through Liverpool and carried to the textile mills near the Pennines where water and then steam power enabled the production of the finished cloth.