A railway question very similar to that involved in the
recent struggle between the Great Eastern and Great Northern railways, —the former representing free trade and cheap coal, and the latter protection and monopoly, —is now before a committee of the House of Commons. If any one well acquainted with the economic geography of England had to lay down on a map the railway system best adapted to the economic requirements of the country, one of the very first lines which would suggest itself would be one from the coal and iron-consuming districts of the Midland Counties to the great iron and coal fields of South Wales. Not only would such a line convey the iron direct to the Black Country, but it would also afford that district direct access to the important western ports of Llanelly and Milford Haven. The last link necessary to complete such a line is now before Parlia- ment, but is met with violent opposition by the Great Western, which claims a vested right to convey minerals from Llanelly round through all the indentations of the South Wales line through Gloucester and Hereford to Birmingham, and to charge in proportion to the length of the route. We trust the principle of railway monopoly will not prevail again. The most that the Great Northern or the Great Western can do is to postpone for a year or two the lines so urgently demanded by public interest, but -it is important that they should not be allowed to do even that.