The truth of the matter, and the inference to be drawn from the above considerations and the whole trend of modern trade, is that to break up the railway systems of Great Britain and Ireland into two rival and hostile systems of transit, working for different objects and by different methods, would be to stop a natural and healthy process of uniform working and harmony, which has enormously advanced in the last decade, to the great advantage of Ireland.
Almost every scheme of amalgamation in Ireland has been connected with the opening or development of a new cross-Channel route, as the history of the Fishguard and Rosslare and the new Heysham routes fully shows. As part of this process, English companies, like the Midland and the Great Western, are either acquiring Irish lines or making special traffic arrangements with them. Enormous sums have been spent on harbours and steamers by English companies for the purpose of developing traffic with Ireland, and the increased interchange of goods has been of great advantage to both countries. The ideal put forward by advocates of railway nationalisation and Irish independence, that in respect of trade and traffic Ireland should be a sort of watertight compartment, self-supporting and self-contained, is, I submit, a mischievous delusion which, if put into practice, would undo much of the good progress Ireland has recently made. Such an ideal would also be the exact contrary of the line of national development as based on transit and transport followed in almost every other civilized country. In Germany, Canada, the United States, and Australia, we see the policy consistently pursued of amalgamation, consolidation, and facilities for long-distance traffic, so that between all parts of each State and Empire there shall be the freest and most perfect interchange of traffic. Canada and the United States have been so far inspired by this principle as to spend countless millions first on East and West (and now on North and South) lines, even before there was traffic to carry, and in order to create traffic; and the principle has been justified in its results.