This is my take on how transport could have evolved in the UK over the last 60 years given a POD in 1955 when the British Transport Commission decided to start electrification of main line railways. Green and Pleasant Land Looking forward to next years 60th anniversary celebrations of the foundation of the British Transport Commission we must began by looking back at the beginning of the Commission's illustrious history. The first steps that led to trains travelling the length of the country in under three hours every thirty minutes, carrying most of our bulk goods not travelling on the waterways and taking 90% of people to their places of work every day. It may seem far fetched to us today but back in 1955 there were people considering extending the experimental electrification of the rail network in the South East to cover the whole country. You may ask how these proponents of electrification could justify this extreme expense when over 70% of the energy produced by the fuel used in the generating stations was lost in resistance in the distribution network, when even the oldest locomotives in use could turn 70% of the heat their boilers produced into kinetic energy and the locomotives produced in the British Railways program of 1951 all approached 90% efficiency. Of course compared to the latest model steam turbines, fired by fluid bed solid fuel, gas and oil, with condensing boilers, these were the last of the dinosaurs from the so called “golden age” of steam power. British Railway 9F Goods Locomotive developed from the WD 2-10-0 goods engine used by the RASC Then, of course, the generating stations would shoot all of the pollutants up into the upper atmosphere spreading pollution far more than burning the fuel at the point of use. Also the capital outlay would have been enormous, how they were going to justify this, when the infrastructure to support steam generating vehicles was in place, we can only wonder at. Looking now at the problems other nations are having in regard to air pollution this is one of the less obvious benefits of maintaining our multi-layered transport system but potentially one of its most valuable. Once it was accepted that transport was going to be achieved by burning non-renewable resources of fossil fuel then it became obvious that it should be done in the most efficient manner. To do this with the least impact on the environment it became obvious that burning the fuel at the point of use was far more efficient and less harmful to the environment. The apparent lack of pollution from electric vehicles ignored the fact the the electricity was generated by burning fossil fuel. Without the luxury of readily available power from a hydro-electric system the electric trains produced more and, by ejecting it up high from tall chimneys, more harmful pollution. The main problem of the time taken to get the locomotives up to working pressure was being addressed by the introduction of powdered coal and oil fired boilers which also eased the workload on the engineer or fireman as he used to be called back then, when he was basically a labourer feeding the boiler. Now of course it would be possible one person to operate the locomotive, although no rational company would advocate that practice any more than an aircraft operator would use a one man crew on a transport aeroplane. The phased transfer of RASC rail assets to British Railways over the decade led to an increasing ability to move large loads to within 15 to 20 miles of ANYWHERE in the country. There was not a town or village in the country more than a short journey by road to a railway station. The organisation of freight and personnel transport handling gained from the supplying of the forces in the recent world war became utilised by British Railways. The heavier industries that required bulk deliveries were already sited on or near existing waterways so it was obvious to modernise the canal system. Once the chains of barges started moving every 30mins it was irrelevant if they took a day or two to complete their journey 250 tons or more arrived every 30mins. The amount of fuel required to move 250 tons 100miles by water was less than one tenth of that required by rail and one hundredth of that by road. These figures are taken by the simple comparison of the loads that a horse can move. It can for instance on a hard surfaced highway pull one ton on a wheeled cart. On a permanent way, and the first railways were all horse drawn, they could move ten tons on level ground. But on water in a barge they could easily pull one hundred tons all day without any difficulty. British Road Services together with the private companies Pickfords, Corrals and Charringtons Fuels increased their sitting of depots at railway yards and stations. This formed the final link in the transport chain moving goods around the country.There were railway sidings with access to the road system all over the system dating back to WW1 when vast quantities of munitions and supplies were being transported to the ports for the western front. These became available for general use again by 1950. Large and small haulage and transport companies used these as points of transfer for goods in the initial and final stages of the chain of delivery. Many industries had their own rail links to the main system and indeed possessed their own rolling stock and even locomotives. By actively encouraging this practice and scheduling trains from these companies into the system the maximum use of the capacity and a high level of efficiency was achieved. The urban transport system did for some time remain powered by electric motive units both trams and light railways above and underground. Then of course the gas fired condensing boiler steam turbine units replaced electric power on the underground rail systems and eventually, after a short flirtation with diesel power, the trams followed suit. Now of course monorail systems using magnetic support for the carriages and some even with a linear induction power system are being proposed to save space in urban areas. These however are generating there own power locally with small gas fired generators and using the national grid system for emergency backup only. After the Suez crisis of 1956 Egyptian president Gamel Abdel Nasser initiated a boycott on Arab countries supplying oil to Britain and France in retaliation for the invasion of the canal zone. This prompted the government decided to adopt a policy of minimum reliance on oil as a fuel which compelled the Commission to ensure that the most economical means of transporting people and materials were employed. This required the layered system we enjoy today to be developed to it's full potential. The Royal Navy at Suez It is strange to think that back in the late 50s there were plans to build a network of freeways or autobahns similar to the American or European systems in our country. One can only wonder who would have used them if their construction had gone ahead. The amount of fuel you would use and drivers you would have to train and employ to transport say, food for a city, across the country when one trainload with one driver could carry it in one journey would suggest that no commercial enterprise would ever be able to operate economically unless the whole system was altered in some way to load the dice in favour of the transport by road. As for private motorists who in their right mind would want to sit in a confined box for hours on end to travel when you can put your car on a train at say London and drive off in York in an hour or Edinburgh in three whilst relaxing in comfort and, if time allows, enjoying a meal in the dining car. In 1958 British Car Hire was formed with offices at main stations at the system and if a vehicle was required when the rail journey was completed it could even be hired in advance and paid for with the ticket. If the journey was to a station without an office with two days notice a car could be made available. Bearing all of this in mind it would be incomprehensible for anybody to suggest altering the rail infrastructure to make roads a viable option for long distance travel within the UK. Indeed you would have to dismantle half of the rail infrastructure and scrap all of the new build engines from the 1951 construction program to make roads a viable option and who in their right mind would have suggested that back in 1955. Why obviously no government would have considered such an illogical course of action and the electorate would have put them out of office at the very next election if they did carry out these peculiar policies. The main expense in the formative years of the late 50s and early 60s was of course standardising the loading gauges of all of the lines to allow the latest and most efficient rolling stock and locomotives to have access to all parts of the rail network. This was expensive but not as much as the figures proposed for the electrification of the network. This does not even take into account any savings on not building a freeway system far more suited to a large continent rather than a small island. The ability of mainland Europe to rebuild their road system to cope with extremely large loads was of course mainly due to the fact that there was not a major bridge left standing after the second world war. Any bridge that the Allies didn't destroy to hinder the Axis's supplies the Axis destroyed to hinder the Allied advance. Bielefeld Viaduct This of course meant that the replacements could and were built to take far heavier loads than their predecessors. This was actively encouraged by NATO and financed by the Marshall Plan. This, just like Hitler's construction of the autobahns, was to enable tanks to be readily transported by road. In Britain it was not necessary to carry out such reconstruction and as we were hardly likely to need to deploy tanks on home soil, rail transport would be perfectly adequate for any military requirement. Now after this brief précis of the early history of the Commission we must look at its recent achievements. The monorail systems we have mentioned earlier in South and East London, around Birmingham and Manchester have made the daily journey to work shorter and more pleasant for workers living in these areas. This has left more space on the main line trains travelling through and leaving more capacity on the network for transport of goods. The new computerised signaling and and control system has been installed with an independent duplicate to give an instant backup in any failure situation. Then the largest recent project has been the upgrade and extension of the inland waterways to rationalise bulk transport of goods around the country. This together with the latest generation of vessels has given the Commission more than enough capacity in the transport system to take us well into the next century and beyond. Finally the ongoing maintenance of the road system has been kept up to date with the creation of more motorail transfer stations across the country to give the traveller more choice. Making it possible now to drive onto a train in Scotland and in less than four hours drive off in France through the Channel tunnel. Then of course those who actively enjoy the motoring experience can move around the country on reasonably clear roads for the foreseeable future. The latest addition to the system is this boat lift in Scotland which raises the vessels some 24m. I would welcome any comments or suggestions on this TL.