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LMSS Masthead

Fostering Interest in Research & Modelling of the London, Midland & Scottish Railway


A Record of Large-Scale Organisation and Management,


The work of the commercial organisation may be grouped under four heads-the consolidation of the organisation; the strengthening of public contacts; the adoption of measures to secure or retain traffic; and coordination with other transport undertakings. The commercial functions of the L.M.S. were originally divided between several departments; goods traffic came under the jurisdiction of a goods manager, passenger traffic under a general superintendent, coal traffic under a mineral manager, and traffic from abroad under an overseas and continental traffic manager. Later experience showed that the company's commercial activities would be strengthened by centralised direction and in 1932 the whole of the company's commercial organisation, by all means of transport, was concentrated under a chief commercial manager. "It was recognised that the success of this policy would depend upon attractive facilities being offered to the public which would make the widest possible appeal, and that they should be sold at a price which would attract the optimum traffic and net revenue.

To assess the traffic potentialities, a survey was made in each of the 35 , districts into which the company's territory was divided for commercial management. Valuable information was assembled of the physical features of each area, its population, its trading interests, and the various means of transport in it. In the light of this the sales arrangements were remodelled. Representatives, specially selected and trained for the purpose, were appointed; some covering an area, others a particular trade or industry, and others developing party travel through schools, churches and institutes-to supplement the day-to-day efforts of the local staff who were also given training in salesmanship and encouraged, by means of inter-station and inter-district competition, to secure traffic. This "sales force" consisted of 429 full-time and 200 part-time members of the staff at the outbreak of war. This personal contact was supported by a wide advertising and publicity campaign. These efforts at home were supplemented by the activities of L.M.S. staff working from the company's offices in Paris, Brussels, Antwerp, St. Malo and the Channel Islands, supported by principal agents in Denmark, Germany, Holland, Belgium. Spain, Italy and Switzerland, and further augmented by a network of auxiliary tourist and freight agencies throughout Europe. Similarly in North America: an L.M.S. office in New York worked in conjunction with a chain of tourist agencies throughout the United States and Canada and, for freight, through main· agencies at Norfolk, Portland (Oregon) and San Francisco, with numerous auxiliary agencies at other centres .. These arrangements overseas were subsequently co-ordinated with those of the other British railways and were an important means of attracting tourists to Great Britain.

Much was done to add to the comfort of the passenger and to attract travellers to rail by the steady improvement in the frequency and speed of trains and in general travel amenities, as the benefits of the new and more, powerful locomotives, modern coaches, improved signalling and track equipment became available. Apart from the improvements, in the ordinary services already described, the number of special excursion trains run increased from 7,460 in 1929 to 21,850 in 1938, and those equipped with restaurant cars rose from 1,700 to 3,000. Schemes carried out for the construction of new stations and improvements of existing accommodation, gave better facilities for booking tickets, reserving seats, enquiries, improved cloakroom, waiting room and lavatory accommodation, and refreshment rooms. The new vessels commissioned on the company's shipping services and various improvements made at the ports, all added to these facilities. Tables 1 and 5 of the financial and statistical statement show the passenger miles and receipts from 1923. The phenomenal increases in passenger miles during the war years can be seen.

In addition to physical improvements, a variety of cheap bookings and other travel inducements were offered to the public, a notable development being the institution of monthly return tickets giving third-class travel at a penny a mile by any train on any day within a month which carried the same conditions as ordinary tickets. Other facilities included a wide range of day, half-day, evening and "guaranteed" excursions; holiday contract or "10s. 0d. run-about" tickets; holiday camping coaches; inclusive bookings of several kinds for the pleasure-seeker; bulk travel vouchers for business firms; weekly season tickets for regular short-distance journeys; educational excursions for school-children and their teachers; reduced rates for private motor cars accompanying passengers; and the purchase of rail tickets by instalments under a "save-to-travel" scheme.

The development of an extensive cheap fare policy naturally had its reaction upon the ordinary bookings and it necessitated considerable judgment to hold the balance so that the optimum net revenue might be secured to the company. The position was rendered difficult by external factors, such as the reduction in the incomes of the travelling public during and following periods of trade depression and labour unrest, the rapid growth in the use of privately owned motor cars, and the intense competition from other forms of transport not subject to the restrictions imposed by Parliament on the railway companies.

The improvement in the freight service has already been described, but one of the developments which assisted in securing or retaining traffic was the introduction of the container. After considerable research and experiment, containers were brought into general use for merchandise traffic. The advantages became apparent to the public and the stock rapidly increased. In 1929, the L.M.S. stock of 1,800 containers carried 48,000 loads; in 1932, the stock had grown to 3,600 and the loads to 101,000; in 1938 the stock exceeded 8,000 containers, carrying. over 200,000 loads, and earning receipts of £800,000 a year. The advantages of container transport-reduced packing costs, less risk of damage and pilferage, the benefits of door-to-door service were strongly emphasised to the public. The stock was of many types, some were fitted internally for specific traffics, such as furniture, bicycles, confectionery, and others were constructed with special insulation, ventilation and refrigeration for the carriage of perishable commodities.

A number of specialised services were introduced to cater for particular needs, such as inclusive arrangements for bulk rail conveyance, storage, retail distribution and incidental services; provision of fixed, demountable and road-rail tanks for bulk liquids on hire contract or other terms; consignments under special observation for a small fee.

The use of the company's warehouse and storage accommodation was fully developed; and many improvements were carried out at the docks and harbours to meet the particular requirements of the trades using them, and many new private sidings were laid to serve new or reconstructed works.

Several tables in the financial and statistical statement are records, of goods traffic results. Particular attention might be drawn to Tables 2 and 7 which show the net ton and loaded wagon miles from 1923. The remarkable increases during the war years should be noted.

Exceptional rates and "agreed" charges on a large scale were quoted. Between 1928 and 1938, 445,000 exceptional rates were arranged, either to develop business, to cater for regular flows of traffic, or to retain traffic. By the end of 1939 over 1,000 "agreed" charges were in operation, resulting in clerical economies to traders and the railways.

As regards co-ordination with other transport undertakings, efforts to secure statutory authority to operate road vehicles over a wider field were initiated by two of the constituent companies of the L.M.S. as far back as 1922, but it was not until 1928 that road powers were obtained. Had success been achieved earlier, inter-relationship of rail and road traffic might have been effected, but in the circumstances then obtaining it became necessary to co-operate with established road undertakings, rather than embark on the costly alternative of providing large fleets of omnibuses and lorries.

A substantial interest in 21 principal omnibus companies operating in L.M.S. territory was purchased at a cost of £3,250,000, on which a good return has been obtained.

This new relationship between the railway and the omnibus undertakings enabled matters of common interest to be brought regularly under review with mutual benefit. It was possible to correlate the services offered by both forms of passenger transport through an adjustment of timings to give improved rail and bus connections, by making tickets available by either form, and by arranging bus services as feeders for rail excursions or road services as feeders of rail excursions. It was also found possible to withdraw unremunerative passenger services on branch lines by arranging with the associated omnibus company to provide or adjust its services to meet the needs of the public.

By 1939, the vehicles of associated bus companies served over 1,000 L.M.S. stations by using the station forecourt, stopping at or adjacent to the station or by being available within 200 yards. In the previous year 541,000 bus or rail tickets were used on return journeys for bus or rail travel.

For merchandise traffic, a different set of circumstances were met in achieving co-ordination, owing to the wider range of interests involved and the diverse ownership. and less regularity in services of goods transport vehicles; A policy was, therefore, followed whereby the efforts to improve the throughout conveyance of merchandise by rail were intensified, the company's cartage strength was greatly increased and facilities for the throughout conveyance of merchandise by road were provided where the circumstances warranted this. The cartage stock which formerly consisted in the main of horse-drawn vehicles serving defined areas surrounding railway stations, had grown by 1938 to 6,457 motor vehicles and trailers, in addition to 16,629 horse-drawn vehicles used for local work.

Arrangements were made to purchase interests in road businesses which might usefully be worked in conjunction with the railway. In addition to a number of small concerns, J. Nall & Co., Ltd., Manchester, who acted as cartage agents at a number of stations in Lancashire, were purchased outright, and a 50 per cent. interest was secured in Wordie & Co., Ltd., Glasgow, who were the cartage agents in Scotland. In conjunction with the other railway companies, the businesses of Hay's Wharf Cartage and Carter Paterson & Co., Ltd., were purchased outright.

An important part was played in the development of civil aviation on routes related to L.M.S. surface interests. As journeys involving sea passages were most promising, services were instituted between London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Belfast; Glasgow and Belfast; Lancashire and the Isle of Man, and in Scotland. These activities in air transport were conducted in co-operation with other shipping interests and co-ordination was effected with other operators.

The public benefits from the co-ordination of rail and air transport included interchange of air and rail tickets, conveyance of luggage by rail for air passengers, and the use of railway stations and town offices for air bookings and -seat reservations.

The associated air services were in 1938 flying some 2,000,000 miles, carrying 40,000 passengers and 1,500,000 pounds of mails and freight.

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