A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 68


THE OUTBREAK OF WAR


the direction of the army, and included representatives of the Admiralty and the Board of Trade. The work of this council was to lay down general schemes of what the railways were required to do in the way of moving troops and supplies. The actual executive administration of the lines was placed in the hands of the railway executive committee, a board composed of the general managers of the railways. Behind it was an organization, the engineer and railway staff corps, consisting of the very pick of the railway world, whose members were at once placed in high administrative transportation posts, not only at home but on the continent. The government guaranteed that during the time of official control the receipts of the railways should equal those they had recently been earning. The result of this guarantee was far-reaching. From now on it was no longer the aim of the railways to attract traffic by special means to their lines, but to meet the government needs.

All the advertising campaigns, canvassing for passengers, and the like, were cut off in a day. Trains were held up or lines closed whenever necessary. In the following months excursion facilities gradually lessened until it was announced that on account of the military requirements cheap fares and excursion rates would be cancelled altogether. The private traveller suffered to some extent, although not so much as might have been expected. But the work for the army was done with splendid efficiency. The way in which the first Expeditionary Force was carried to the south coast ports and embarked secretly will go down in history among the greatest of railway feats.

Still more important, if anything, than the conveyance of the Expeditionary Force southwards was the constant preparation to keep the lines ready day and night so that at any moment a defence army of, maybe, 200,000 men, drawn from many centres, could be concentrated on one spot to resist an attempt at invasion. When it is borne in mind that the railways were very short-handed, a large number of their men being in the army, that they had lost some of their chief organizers for administrative work on the continent, and that they were primarily, from August onwards, working for the government, it will be realized that the way in which they still catered for the civilian element stands to their great credit.

The scheme for insuring British shipping against war risks was necessary if the shipping was to continue its work freely. Every

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