Railroads, the Free Enterprise Alternative

By Daniel L. Overbey | Go to book overview

1 DEVELOPMENT OF THE RAILWAY

In October of 1603 or 1604 Huntingdon Beaumont built one of the first railways known to history. It was built to serve his coal mine near Nottingham, England. This and other early railways consisted only of rectangular wooden beams "laid end to end over roughly- levelled ground, over which teams of horses drew the loaded waggons."1 The use of wooden rails kept wagons from sinking in the mud and greatly increased the load a given number of horses could pull. Although such rails had doubtless been used earlier to bridge muddy or soft spots in roads, this was one of the first times they were used as part of a permanent transportation system. The railway had been born.

A legal development which complemented these early technological developments was the extension of the power of eminent domain to the railways. The first railways, located in Britain, were owned and operated by coal mines. To operate the railway over property not owned by the coal mine, the railway had to purchase "way-leaves" from the landowners. As the price of coal rose, so did the cost of the way-leaves. The mine owners sought a less costly method for obtaining such privileges. By converting the private railway into a public thoroughfare, the railway--like the canals and turnpikes--could invoke the Crown's power of eminent domain and thereby secure rights of way at a lower cost. In return for this privilege, the companies had to accept a greater degree of governmental regulation, most often in the form of charter restrictions. The result was a dual usage of the railway: used both for the private purposes of the owner company and for public transportation.2

The culmination of these legal and technological developments was the Surrey Iron Railway, opened to the public in May of 1801.3 It was the first purely commercial railway--built solely for public use and not owned by a canal, coal mine, or other interest. Its promoters advertised that "the carriages fit for a railway may also be used in the streets of a town, or on a common highway."4 Individuals could drive their own wagons over the railway upon payment of a toll, and the railways provided an alternative

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Railroads, the Free Enterprise Alternative
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • New Titles From Quorum Books ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents ix
  • Figures xi
  • Tables xiii
  • Preface xv
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • 1 - Development of The Railway 3
  • Notes 6
  • 2 - A Product of Necessity 9
  • Notes 13
  • 3 - Degrees Of Standardization 15
  • Notes 18
  • 4 - Changing Times, 4 Changing Needs 19
  • Notes 31
  • Appendix To Chapter 4 Tables 1-4 33
  • 5 - For Everyone Else: The Typical Transportation Industry Structure 41
  • Notes 53
  • 6 - Railroad Industry Structure 55
  • Notes 65
  • 7 - Aspects of Joint Use 67
  • Notes 73
  • 8 - Aspects of Innovation 75
  • Notes 87
  • 9: Economics And Structure 91
  • Appendix To Chapter 9 109
  • 10 - In Theory, in Congress 113
  • Notes 124
  • 11 - A Proposal 127
  • 12 - Roadway Companies 131
  • 13 - Carrier Companies 147
  • Notes 161
  • 14 - Terminals 163
  • 15 - Regulation 173
  • Notes 181
  • 16 - Opportunity For Innovation 183
  • Notes 192
  • Appendix To Chapter 16 Service Alternatives For Short-Haul Traffic 195
  • 17 - The Promise And The Prospects 199
  • Notes 204
  • 18 - A Logical Conclusion 207
  • Notes 210
  • Bibliography 211
  • Index 221
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