British railways and the challenge from road haulage: 1919-39
Scott, P. (2002) British railways and the challenge from road haulage: 1919-39. Twentieth Century British History, 13 (2). pp. 101-120. ISSN 1477-4674
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To link to this item DOI: 10.1093/tcbh/13.2.101
Interwar Britain witnessed the rapid rise of road transport as a serious competitor to the railways. This article examines road–rail competition for freight traffic. It demonstrates that, contrary to previous accounts—which have been highly critical of the railway companies—their failure to prevent rapid loss of traffic to the roads was the inevitable consequence of the regulatory framework under which the railways had been returned to private control in 1921. Given the constraints imposed by this framework, price competition with road hauliers would have further depressed railway company profits. Railway policy thus concentrated on pressing for a revision of the legislative framework governing road–rail competition.