This paper uses Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to explore the growth of the rail network in England & Wales in the period before the First World War. It makes use of two major GIS databases, one containing data on the growth of the rail network including both lines and stations, and one containing parish-level populations. The parish-level data are particularly important for two reasons: they give an unparalleled level of spatial detail, and they are interpolated onto a single set of boundaries over time which allows direct long-term comparisons to be made. GIS’s ability to integrate data allows the paper to shed new light on how quickly the railways spread into the country’s population. It then explores whether gaining a station made it more likely for a parish’s population growth to increase and whether gaining one early was an advantage compared to gaining one relatively late. It is able to explore this impact at a variety of different urban levels.