The transportation system of Great Britain is considered to be one of the best and most developed ones in the world. In this country, there are various transportation means that regularly run on a daily basis. The government of the United Kingdom sees the transport infrastructure as one of the strategically important sectors of the economy of the country. The peculiarity of the transportation system in Great Britain is that even the farthest and most distant corners of the country are in an easy transport accessibility, which allows people from the suburbs to get to any place inside the country fast and easy, not to mention traveling outside Great Britain. The peculiarities of the geographical location made for the Kingdom’s transportation development with the sea transport developed first and the air transport following it, which nowadays constitutes more than 80 percent of the freight turnover thus providing for the country’s international and domestic relations.
The 15th century was the time of the developing trade. Therefore public transportation means had not been developed yet, and thus the transport was used mainly for carrying loads. Transporting goods by rivers and the sea was much cheaper than land transportation. Thus, the trade routes were developing by building bridges above the river and other barriers. Shipbuilding started to develop into one of the main economy branches of the country. Shipyards, dockyards and cog-built vessels became the main trade ships used in 15th and 16th century England.
Though river and sea transport used mainly for business and trade was widely popular, the changing and developing society was looking for popularizing land public transport that could allow passenger carriages locally inside the country. An integral part of 16th-century transport infrastructure in the United Kingdom was a stage coach, a closed multi-seated carriage used for transporting passengers, goods and mail between the cities. Its route passed through special stations where carriages changed the horses and had some rest. The popularity peak of the stage coaches fell at the end of the 18th to beginning of the 19th century.
The 17th-century transportation in the United Kingdom was marked by the invention of the steam engine in 1804 by Richard Trevithick. But the cast-iron rails were not intended for the heavy engine. Some ten years after new construction of a steam engine was suggested, which turned out to be more successful, the first railway road for steam engines covering the distance from Darlington to Stockton was built.
The development of large-scale industry in the second part of the 18th century required cheap transportation of loads both locally and internationally. Therefore, Britain started to construct channels and railways roads that enabled using horse-drawn carriages. Moreover, public transport as a separate economic sector of the country started to appear these days.
The 19th century became the time of the most intensive transport development in the United Kingdom. The appearance of the steam carriages and steam railway transport made a real revolution in the transportation system. English railways are ones of the oldest railways in the world. In 1863, the London tube, which was the first underground railway in the world, started to function. Moreover, in 1853 Sir Cayley constructed the first sailplane, which took the human into the sky. The water transport, which plays an important role in the transport infrastructure still today, originates somewhere in the middle of the 19th century. The first messages about the first specially organized maiden voyages of the sea passenger vessels turn back to 1835 when England announced the first pleasure trips between the northern islands of Britain and Island. Char-a-banc chariots, or carriages with wooden benches, though originally designed in France, got extremely popular in Britain in the late 1800s and early 1900s. They were usually used for small trips outside the city and hunting. In 1829, the first omnibuses appeared on the streets of London and in 20 years’ time were widely used for carrying passengers inside the city, unlike stage coaches covering not very long distances. Together with omnibuses, horse-drawn trams started to appear on the streets of the biggest cities and little by little they forced out the omnibuses.
By the beginning of the 20th century, the British turned into the leaders of the transatlantic cruises. The White Star Lines cruise company created a totally new class of ships building the Olympic, the Titanic and the Britania. These were the most grandiose liners of those times, the biggest and the highest-speed ones, which carried passengers to America through the Atlantics. These vessels made it possible for the poor to cross the ocean on the lower decks of the liner, whereas the rich were accommodated on the higher decks. Then in the early 1900s, automobile transportation started to develop.
The 21st-century transportation in the United Kingdom is presented in its full diversity both in the capital of the country and its other cities and suburbs. Almost all regions of the Kingdom are connected with the help of various sea ports, and the modern airway transportation system numbers around 150 airports around the country, serving both local and international flights. Water and air transportation are the most popular nowadays in the Kingdom, thus leaving behind all other traditional means of transport, including railway and automobile transportation though the latter are highly developed and comfortable. Being an island located country, water transport is extremely popular with British people and is actively developed. The River Thames itself has river vessels that carry passengers to numerous places around London. The best transport line in the country is the tube, or underground. Having both underground and land lines available excludes the problem of traffic jams even in the heaviest rush hours. British railway transport is affordable, comfortable and modern. Within the precincts of a town, buses remain one of the most popular means of public transport. London has night buses that are available to passengers during the night and function from 2 to 3 p.m. until 5 a.m. Taxis are a separate transport means worth paying attention to. London is famous for its black cabs that are quite expensive but still popular. Automobile transport is highly developed with the highways being some of the best in Europe.