Current concerns about how to reduce carbon emissions, combined with worries about how to move freight around Britain’s ever more congested roadways without bringing the country to a standstill have led to a renewed interest in Britain’s waterways.
Canals fueled the industrial revolution, transporting goods around the country quickly and cheaply compared to road transport with horse and cart. They saw themselves through from being pulled by horses (and small children when heading through tunnels) to being powered by steam. Then the railway came and devastated the business model. Then the roads took freight back and we see lorries transporting goods around the country. Canals adapted to diesel engines and life as mobile holiday homes and tourist attractions.
It takes some creativity to look backwards to come up with innovative solutions to modern problems, but some major supermarkets are dipping an early toe into the canal network by transporting wine across the country by barge, reducing emissions and boosting green credentials.
Canal Mania puts you in the role of canal magnate, hiring engineers like Telford and Brindley to help you build canals. You’ll need to secure government contracts to build your canals, and create a network that allows you to ship goods without having to pay your competitors. It also helps you to understand the haphazard construction of canals in Britain. Competing enterprises built their own networks with no thought to how they could connect with others to make an efficient network.
Canal Mania players need to ensure they get the most out of their investments before the coming of the railway. Continuing to build a more elegant network may be appealing, but if the railway is coming you’ll need to ensure that you’re sweating your assets rather than investing for a canal future which you know isn’t there.
Today’s business players don’t have the advantage of a Stephenson’s Rocket marker telling them when expansion is no longer the most effective winning strategy. Identifying changes in your marketplace and your employee landscape is just as important as reacting to them when they arrive.