G.W.R. Changes its Tune
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"Imy view, the railway companies
are fully entitled to deliver railborne traffic. It would be against the interests of the public if they were not allowed to do so. I do not agree with the suggestion that extra vehicles are wanted 'merely to compete with local hauliers. In my opinion, the only competition between railways and road hauliers is with regard to long-distance traffic."
This statement was made by Mr. A. F. Nicholson, Western Licensing Authority, in granting an application by the Great Western Railway Co. for a considerable increase in tonnage in respect of 21 bases in the counties of Devon, Cornwall, Gloucester, Somerset and Wilts. It was vigorously opposed by west-country operators.
For the G.W.R., Mr. G. E. Woodward said that the company was presenting its applications strictly according to law, and he asked that certain objectors, who had sent in their notices late, and those who held only B licences, should not be heard, Mr. T. D. Corpe, representing a number of objecting hauliers, mainly in the Bristol district, urged that the objectors should be heard, although the notices might have been a little late. He pointed out that the company had been in no way prejudiced by the lateness of the objections, because it had ample time to consider them.
Mr. Nicholson agreed that the applicant had had ample time and allowed the objectors to be heard. He excluded, however, objections from Bdicence holders.
Mr. Woodward said that the addi
tional tonnage applied for was based upon the need for railborne traffic.
Mr. Cot-pc suggested that it was extraordinary that the G.W.R„ up to as late as October 30, should have objected to local road hauliers' applications on the ground that its own collection and delivery facilities were not being fully utilized, and that now it was applying for permission to intrease its services. He submitted that the G.W.R. had not discharged the burden of proof on it.
Mr. R. J. McGahey, for objectors in the Exeter district, called two South Molton operators, who alleged undercutting by the G.W.R. and urged that the application in respect of Cullompton should fail, -because the traffic carried by the company had actually decreased during 1935. At Exeter, each of the company's 52 vehicles had to carry only 20 tons during a period C,Ilf 24 weeks in 1935, yet a further seven vehicles were sought. Mr. McGahey said that operators in the Exeter district felt strongly that the railway companies had consistently opposed their applications, and, to a considerable extent, had limited the operations, of outside hauliers, compelling them to increase their .rates. The G.W.R. then instituted a system of cheap collection and delivery, and it was quite clear that the company must make the railway itself bear part of the road costs.
Mr. Woodward contended that the objectors had put forward no evidence that the railway company had abstracted traffic from any -particular haulier. He denied the suggestion of rate-cutting at South Molten.