Prior to the 1870s, national newspapers were dispatched from the printers in batches of single sheets and only assembled into newspaper form when they reached newsagents early the following morning. This meant that newspapers sold outside major metropolitan centres were often delivered or assembled quite late in the day. This article from The Graphic explains how The Times got round this problem by chartering a special early morning goods train on which the newspapers would be assembled while in transit – greatly increasing the speed at which the final product could be delivered to customers, no matter how remote.
The growth and development of newspapers in the 19th century owed everything to steam power. First, the development of the steam-powered rotary press allowed printers to create up to 2,500 printed pages per hour (a 500% increase on the productivity of turn-of-the-century hand-cranked presses); secondly, the development of the locomotive steam engine and rail network allowed Britain to have a truly national press for the first time.