Lord Leathers Reviews the Nation's Transport
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MANY notable people in the world of transport were. present at a recent meeting of the Institute of Transport when Lord Leathers, Minister of War Transport, received from the President, Mr. J. S. Nicholl, a certificate. of honorary membership of the Institute.
Mr. 'Nichol]: referred to the satisfaction felt by members of the Institute at having the control of the Ministry in such experienCed and steady hands. This was the first time that the body had conferred honorary membership on any person other than a member, and these could be counted on one hand, The Institute would have great opportunities of service in the days to come, and they would welcome Lord Leathers's support and confidence.
In expressing his great appreciation of the honour which had been conferred upon him, Lord Leathers said that he did not think that the public always realized that no munition of war can be manufactured unless raw materials and workers be brought to the factory. There was really no advantage in producing an enormous output unless these munitions could he carried from the factory to the battle fronts.
His Department had been for the past 18 months in charge both of over seas and inland transport. He was aware of the difficulties of passenger travel within this country, but the war needs must come first. Services in many places could be much improved if satisfactory .arrangements could be made to stagger working hours. Where this had 'been done, vehicles are less crowded and waiting time shorter. Anyone complaining of overcrowding should remember that the railways are carrying 34 per cent. more workers than before the war, whilst with some bus undertakings the increase is 80 to 100 per cent. Locomotive shops and bus builders are building not only engines and buses, but Tanks and guns.
Unused Transport Kept Ready for Action Transport of goods by road differs from other forms just now in that its use is limited, not so much by physical capacity as by the urgent need for saving rubber and fuel. It has, therefore, to be restricted to traffic which must be moved and which cannot be by other means. Road haulage, therefore, constitutes the reserves of the army of transport. The capacity left unused must be kept ready for immediate action. Rationalizing transport and zoning distribution have saved over 8,000 vehicles formerly engaged in retail delivery. Thus, except in a few specialized fields, there is more road transport available than traffic -for it to carry.
He then referred to the new Governrnent plan for long-distance road haulage. In the absence of such a scheme, the position of the long-distance carrier was likely to become, at best, precarious.The Government would not deprive the carrier-of his vehicles, but would use the industry's skill and experience. The country needs the industry, and the industry needs the Government, to give maximum service in the national interest.
He concluded with a sincere tribute to the men and women working in transport, who have stuck to their jobs through thick and thin, fair weather and foul. It is only through their determination that we are still able to deliver the goods.
The hard tests of war have forced the Government to hammer out a unified system, and the lessons learned would be of great value when peace comes. Our recovery and prosperity will be dependent upon the ability to provide a cheap and 'efficient transport system.