In Britain the standard gauge for railways in 4ft 8 1/2 inches, as set down from the start of the railway age. However the Great Western Railway, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, pioneered broad gauge from 1838 with a gauge of 7 ft 0 1/4 in, and retained this gauge until 1892. No locomotives or rolling stock exists from this era but a replica of Daniel Gooch's passenger locomotive Fire Fly, conceived by the members of the Firefly Trust assembled at Didcot Railway Centre where it now operates on the replica brioad gauge track.
The original Fire Fly is said to have covered the 30.75 miles (49.49 km) from Twyford to London Paddington in 37 minutes, an average speed of 50 miles per hour (80 km/h), which was unprecedented in 1840.
Eventualy the problems operating mixed gauges on the national network became unsurmountable and the broad gauge network was replaced by standard gauge track in the late 19th century.
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