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War Economy

Coal for Locomotives

Coal for Locomotives

A constant wartime problem for the railways was the inadequacy of supplies of hard coal for the efficient running of locomotives. page 408 page 409 Production of other types of coal tended to be irregular and there was never sufficient for the Department to build up stocks as a precaution against interruption in supply. Because of the importance of the railways as a user of coal and its dependence on coal mining for regular running, the wartime experiences of the coal-mining industry are treated in this chapter. One major influence on coal output, the prevalence of industrial disputes, is mentioned where necessary, but is not discussed fully, as this has already been done in a companion volume.1

chart of rail statistics

Chart 69

Chart 69 shows some key railway statistics.

Coal shortages had caused restriction of railway services as early as April 1940, and there were varying restrictions on civilian passenger transport services for most of the war years. At times passengers had to have permits to travel over a certain distance.2

The shortage of coal was particularly acute early in 1944, and in January, with only 18,400 tons3 on hand, further restrictions were placed on goods and passenger transport by rail in both islands.

The permit system was abandoned from September 1944.

2 See also Chapter 17 for a fuller discussion of travel restrictions.

3 Compared with 78,000 tons in January 1940.