British railways, canals and some other transport undertakings passed into State ownership yesterday. There was no public ceremony.
Railway and other stocks held by the 1,000,000 shareholders were “extinguished” at the same time, and legally replaced by British Transport Stock.
Mr Barnes, Minister of Transport, broadcasting last night on the taking over of transport, said that for the present coal and merchandise must come before passengers. The economic conditions of the country demanded it.
As soon as the shortage of rolling stock for goods traffic could be made good, no effort would be spared to give the public an improved service.
The Transport Commission was taking over the railways at a time when, due to wear and tear of the war years, their strength was at its lowest ebb. It had the double task of rebuilding and reorganising at the same time.
British railways were now the most important unified railway system in the world.
Mr Callaghan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport, told railway workers in London that nationalisation would not solve all difficulties in 12 months. “It is not a feather bed on which to fall back; it is a diving board from which to jump and spring,” he said.
The railway construction programme this year envisaged the building of 48,000 sixteen-ton wagons, he said.
An official of the Transport Commission told a reporter: “One of the objects of the Commission is to improve public catering facilities in railway stations and make the buffets brighter.”