The industrial revolution in the 19th century saw a number of inventions fundamentally change transport. With telegraphy, communication became instant and independent of the transport services and the invention of the steam engine, closely followed by its application in rail transport, made land transport independent of human or animal muscles. Both speed and capacity increased rapidly, allowing specialization through manufacturing being located independently of natural resources. The 19th century also saw the development of the steam ship, which sped up global transport.
With the development of the combustion engine and the automobile around 1900, road transport became more competitive again, and mechanical private transport originated. The first “modern” highways were constructed during the 19th century with macadam. Later, tarmac and concrete became the dominant paving materials. In 1903 the Wright brothers demonstrated the first successful controllable airplane, and after World War I (1914–1918) aircraft became a fast way to transport people and express goods over long distances
After World War II (1939–1945) the automobile and airlines took higher shares of transport, reducing rail and water to freight and short-haul passenger services.Scientific spaceflight began in the 1950s, with rapid growth until the 1970s, when interest dwindled. In the 1950s the introduction of containerisation gave massive efficiency gains in freight transport, fostering globolisation International air travel became much more accessible in the 1960s with the commercialization of the jet engine. Along with the growth in automobiles and motorways, rail and water transport declined in relative importance. After the introduction of the shinkansen in Japan in 1964, high-speed rail in Asia and Europe started attracting passengers on long-haul routes away from the airlines.
Early in U.S times private joint-stock corporations owned most aqueducts, bridges, canals, railroads, roads, and tunnels. Most such transport infrastructure came under government control in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, culminating in the nationalisation of inter-city passenger rail-service with the establishment of amtrak. Recently,however, a movement to privatize roads and other infrastructure has gained some ground and adherents.