Railways and Travel
– WHERE ARE WE GOING? –
In 1829, when Stephenson entered his invention, the steam engine, for a competition, people were shocked to find that it was possible to travel at a dangerous speed of 36 m.p.h. There were many powerful opponents of the railway companies. Stage-coach owners, innkeepers and horse dealers all saw their means of living threatened by the new rival: the canal companies became aware of a powerful competitor.
If railway transport was to become widespread, they would lose their jobs. Another group of people who were against the introduction of the railways into Britain were those who were interested in the natural conservation of the country.
Trains were considered to be dangerous and it was said that they frightened cows and hens, killed birds with their smoke, and set houses on’f ire with their sparks. One man summed up the general feeling of the people when he said, “The locomotion monster carrying eight tons of goods, navigated by a tail of smoke and sulphur, comes through every man’s ground between Manchester and Liverpool.”
On the other hand, communication was certainly helped by the railways, now that trains were being used in postal service. And what made communication even faster was the electric telegraph, which was introduced in 1840. The introduction of railways influenced other aspects of life as well. The laying of the tracks provided work for thousands and transporting people and goods w? made easier.
In fact, travelling by rail soon became a common thing in everyone’s life, and it is now difficult to imagine a world without railways or any other form of rapid transport. But how much faster do we want to travel? How much further can transport be developed? Do we want the sea and air to be as cluttered as the roads, which are overcrowded with cars?
Apparently more and more means of transport are being invented. For example, ten years ago Anthony Hawker bought a house with a canal around it, which he used as a testing place for models of his latest invention, a small hovercraft, and his friends laughed. They thought it was a dangerous pastime for someone who had no formal engineering training. “I have never been so laughed at in my life.
Everyone thought I was mad. I was told it was totally impossible. Everyone said it wouldn’t work,” he said. But it did work and the result is a four-seater hovercraft. Meanwhile, Anthony Hawker is working on a flying saucer. It will probably work.
– QUESTIONS –
A. Mark the best choice.
1. Line 4, ‘opponents’ are .
a) business owners like inkeepers
b) people who lose their jobs
c) large transport companies
d) people who are against an idea
2. Line 6, ‘rival’ has the same meaning as _
. a) company b) competitor c) introduction d) canai
3. Line 27, ‘cluttered’ means .
a) faster b) filled up c) rapid d) common
B. Mark the statements as True (T) or False (F).
1. Travelling at thirty-six mi’.ss an hour was not realised until 1829.
2. The development of railways made communication faster.
3. The steam engine and the electric telegraph were introduced at the same time.
4. It didn’t take people long to accept the idt ravelling by rail.
1. How did Stephenson introduce his invention to puu
2. Some people didn’t want railways to become widespread for two main reasons. What were they?
3. How did the introduction of railways contribute to the British economy?
4. Why did Hawker’s friends think that his hovercraft wouldn’t work?