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New Left Review I/3, May-June 1960

John Hughes

Railways and the Transport Muddle

Three Studies In The Welfare State

by the time this article sees the light of day, we will all have had a surfeit of material on the railway problem. Why should NLR join in? One answer is that this is an outstanding example of the conflict between the values and criteria of commercialism and those applicable if social need is used as a guide. Here is a case where commercial accounting gives all the wrong answers. Secondly, it illustrates the contradictions that nationalised industries are caught up in within a mixed economy dominated by commercial interests. Moreover, here is a question which affects the whole fabric of our lives in a highly urbanised country, one that we will increasingly suffer from, and the Labour movement has no policy. True, Harold Wilson (New Statesman, 5 March, 1960) has written about railway financing, but what he has to say does not go to the root even of that problem, and he has very little to say in the context of broader problems of transport policy. The NUR, and all credit to it, has written a very effective pamphlet—Planning Transport for You (NUR 1/-)—but this still does not avoid being railway-minded instead of transportminded—nor is there any sign that there is any agreement in sight between them and other transport Trade Unions (notably the T & G) as to what should be done.

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John Hughes, ‘Railways and the Transport Muddle’, NLR I/3: £3

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