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Report from the Joint Select Committee of the House of Lords and the House of Commons on London underground railways.
London, for HMSO, 23rd July 1901

The opening in 1900 of the Central London railway (Central Line), the first successful tube, as against underground, railway, revealed the possibilities of such an urban transport system. As a result, the parliamentary session of 1901 was flooded with so many proposals that it was felt necessary to set up a special joint committee of both Houses to make general and detailed recommendations on all the projects before submitting the individual bills to the usual committee process.

Ten proposals were looked at, of which some were extensions of existing lines (Brompton & Piccadilly Circus [Piccadilly line] to Russell Square; City & South London [now part of Northern line] to Euston; and loops at the termini of the Central line), while others were ambitious and expensive schemes for new lines.

Out of the detailed mass of evidence, taken from engineers, promoters, Members of Parliament, local government officials, surveyors etc., and such experienced figures in the London railway world as Forbes, Chairman of the Metropolitan District railway and Oakley, Chairman of the Central line, the Committee managed to distill some remarkably forward-looking views and "its report provides a much more carefully considered attempt at a general appraisal of the situation than is to be found elsewhere in print" (Barker & Robbins, "A history of London Transport", p66).

For instance, they recommended uniformity of fares and advocated that the Board of Trade should report to Parliament on a regular basis "on the working of these railways, of their relations to one another, and on the reasonableness of the fares charged thereon". They wanted a clause to be inserted in all railway bills, giving county councils discretion to construct further lines where "a public company would not feel justified in extending their line until the population became greater", and also laid down general principles for the laying out of routes and the siting of stations.

At the time, however, the report, for all its excellence, achieved little and in fact delayed all the bills for a year thus allowing the American entrepreneur, Yerkes, to find backing for his Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead tube (now part of the Northern line and also examined here) and to become the major force in the shaping of the tube network as it stands today.


Large 4to. xxiv + 435 + (1)pp, 1 folding coloured litho map. Original printed wrappers, front wrapper dog-eared and detached.



Catalogue No: 5751