Needless to say, by the time steam technology caught up with the world, people were more than ready for it. Track crisscrossed America, Europe, and Africa.
Due in large part to Russia's large land area and harsh conditions,
transportation has always been a major problem for its people and government. In
early times, waterways provided the majority of transportation for goods and
passengers. Some roads were also built, but they were only usable at certain
times of the year due to the weather, and were not good even then. Railroads,
although experiencing a slow start, proved to be more efficient for
transportation than either waterways or roads. 
You can do a lot with serf labor.
This was also the era when tourists became big. Not necessarily in today's sense of the word, but people traveled more to see things they didn't necessarily need to. The World's Fair, New York, Philadelphis, Boston, Washington. London for those in the country and the country for those in London.
I got so bogged down in who, where, and when that I decided to post a few links instead of a long disertation on the subject.
Victorian Train Travel: