Predicting, Providing, Sustaining, Integrating? British Transport Policy since 1945

Mike Anson and Gerald Crompton

in Business in Britain in the Twentieth Century

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780199226009
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191710315 | DOI:
Predicting, Providing, Sustaining, Integrating? British Transport Policy since 1945

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Since 1945 the United Kingdom has seen a tremendous increase in the movement of both people and goods, something that has been critical to the performance of the economy. This chapter examines the key themes of transport policy during this period. It begins with the nationalisation of much of land transport, which promised much, but deteriorated amidst organizational uncertainty and was, in many ways, a missed opportunity for integration. Consideration is then given to the specific problems of the railways and the various efforts to produce a viable business, mainly by pruning the network and services. By contrast, the expansion of the road system and the growth in private road use, both passenger and freight, has been largely untrammelled. The effects of the privatization programme in the 1980s and 1990s have been severely felt in the public transport sector, most notably, of course, it the case of railways. None of the supposed benefits of railway privatization have been achieved, the public cost of supporting services has spiralled dramatically, and the appropriate organizational structure has been far from clear. Much of post-war transport policy has been concerned far less with co-ordination, and more with the mainly incoherent efforts to predict and provide for growth. While increasing awareness of environmental issues and sustainability may well stimulate some improvements in this direction, the conclusion is not optimistic that, based on past experience, there is much hope for a sustainable and integrated future for transport.

Keywords: transport; transport policy; railways; roads; nationalization; privatization

Chapter.  9350 words. 

Subjects: Business History

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