Canadian Transport Sourcebook

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Canadian Transport Sourcebook > All works> 52 Questions on the Nationalization of Canadian Railways > Chapter 13


But Why Have Great Britain and the United States Assumed Temporary Control of Their Roads?

War conditions compelled Great Britain and the United States to ensure the shortest and quickest possible routing for traffic. If one road had a shorter route between two points, but lacked equipment which some other road possessed—the second road's equipment must serve on the first road's line.

But in countries having—unlike Canada—depth as well as width, this first road had long been accustomed to maintain its business connections by accepting shipments which another road could carry by a shorter route. In the highly-competitive conditions prevailing in Great Britain and the United States, no railway could agree to the Government's proposals without having some guarantee against loss. In the United States the problem was more difficult owing to the run-down state of many of the properties and the fact that with 700 railways the Americans possessed not one transcontinental organization.

The British and American roads were not "Nationalized" in the sense of the word known in Canada, that is, by purchase. The British and American Governments wiped out the need for competition by guaranteeing for the time being the earnings, and ordered their respective roads to work together, letting whoever get the most trade who could best handle it. The same effect is obtained in Canada with less expense through the Canadian Railway War Board.

Are Our Canadian Roads Working as Efficiently?

Quite. Studying the maps I observed that Canada, being wide and shallow, her rail connections lie practically east and west. This is a most important consideration. Indirect routing existed, therefore, only in Ontario and in International traffic. The Canadian Railway War Board removed the evil in Ontario and with the co-operation of the McAdoo Railway Administration in the United States eliminated it also in international movements.

Canadians, in my judgment, have reason to be proud of the fact that they had been in the war for four years, had handled 500,000 soldiers, 85,000 coolies, and millions of tons of special war traffic all out of two "and a half" ocean ports without a hitch! The only break-downs were winter tie-ups of a local nature, due partly to the loss of Canadian freight cars in the American break-down, and partly to the scarcity of workmen for repairing rolling stock. The Canadian Railway War Board, a voluntary association of railways made at the Government's suggestion, perfected this co-operation, already made easy, as I have intimated, by the fact that the Canadian lines are all organized on Transcontinental lines, all running east and west, and competing only in quality of service.

[Public Domain] Copyright/Licence: This work was first published in 1964 or earlier, and the author of the work was anonymous. To the best of my knowledge, the author of the work was unknown at the end of the year 50 years after the work was published, meaning that this work would be in the public domain in Canada, per section 6.2 of the Copyright Act. Note also this link. See disclaimers.