Pooling agreements between the railway companies involved in Anglo-Scottish traffic, 1851-1869.
The thesis seeks to analyse, through a case-study, the multifarious
nature of competition in the railway industry of mid-nineteenth century
Britain, and the extent to which railway leaders managed to reconcile
their separate corporate goals with those of inter-company co-operation.
The nucleus of the study is the device known as the pooling agreement.
Those formed to regulate Anglo-Scottish traffic cannot be understood
apart from the changes over time in the market power of the companies
involved. Therefore, the motivation, timing and nature of company
expansion, as well as its financial circumstances and effects, are considered
in detail. It is shown that the first pools (1851-5) were mainly a response
to the damaging effects of the over-expansion arising from the "Mania" of
1845-6, which spawned the last links in the original through Anglo-Scottish
routes. And a major reason why these pools and their successor (1856-69)
failed to realize all their potentialities was the changes in the territorial
dispositions of members. Further limiting factors were the insecure legal
status of pools in general and the force of coastwise shipping competition.
However, some operating economies were achieved, and the collective setting
of common rates and fares meant the virtual elimination of active price
competition, a feature which continued after 1869 when a rates conference
replaced the expired English and Scotch Agreement. Railway leaders were
unable" given the recent and continuing changes in the market power of
certain members (most notably the Midland Railway), to agree on the division
terms of a new pool. Their failure, it is argued, partly accounts for the
intensity of service competition in the last quarter of the century.