The history of the rail transport regulatory environment in South Africa

Janse van Rensburg, R. A. J. (1996)


OVERVIEW: State intervention in rail transport began in England with public demand for safety regulation which resulted in Lord Seymour's Act in 1840 and the Railway Gauges Act which followed in 1846. Approximately a century later, on 1 January 1948, the main railways in Britain were nationalised. In France, from 1851 onwards, concessions were granted for a planned railway system for which the Government provided ways and works, while private companies provided track and rolling stock. Provision was made for the gradual take-over of the lines by the State, and the Societe- Nationale des Chemins de Fer Fran9ais (SNCF) was formed in 1937 as a company in which the State owned 51% of the capital. The Belgian Railways were owned and operated by the State from theoutset in 1835. The Prussian State Railways began in 1850 and the Netherlands Railways in 1839. Italy nationalised her railways between 1905 - 1907 and the Netherlands in the period 1920 - 1938. In the United States, between the Civil War and World War I, the railways, along with all the other important industries, experienced phenomenal growth as the country developed,. This period was marked by rate wars and financial piracy. The Interstate Commerce Act was passed in 1887 in order to regulate the railways, which nearly had a transport monopoly. After World War II the railways were allowed to deteriorate as private car ownership became almost universal and public money was spent on an interstate highway system, making road haulage profitable, despite the comparative efficiency of railways to move freight and passengers (The Encyclopedia of Transport, 1981: 105-108).

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