Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Changing Traffic on the Railways

From the Aberdeen Express, 9th February 1916.


New Railway Era.

Before the war the railway passenger always thought himself the most important traffic of the railways.  Since the war he has found that he "plays second fiddle" to goods.  He did so even before the war, but he did not realise it.  In 1913, the year before the war, the passenger receipts of the railways of the United Kingdom were £47,000,000, and the goods receipts £67,000,000.  The passengers coaches numbered 79,000: the goods waggons 759,000.

Since the war goods traffic has enormously increased, as the impatient passenger has often lengthy opportunity to realise.  Shortage of ships has been another factor in adding to goods congestion, causing delay at sidings and docks of trucks that cannot be unloaded.

Changed Conditions.
Life on the railways is changed in many ways.  Trains are fewer, shorter, and more crowded.  Half the passengers of any long-distance train seem always to be soldiers.  The railway companies to-day make the ordinary passenger as comfortable as they can manage, but no longer as of old do they bid fiercely for his custom by posters of golden-haired girls sitting by super-azure seas or of old gentlemen and ladies jumping high in the air under the vivifying influence of ozone.

The romance of the railways has moved from the passenger and tourist departments to the goods department. The goods departments are taking strange freight.  One night at a London terminus an armoured motorcar slept peacefully on a goods waggon.  It was home to go in hospital, and was suffering with bruises and superficial wounds.  Nobody looked at it, not even the new railway “mates,” the women carriage cleaners,  the women ticket-collectors, the women booking-clerks.  The revolution is becoming familiar.

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