Now the railways are safely tucked back under the Government's wing, it must be time to revive another relic. Let's bring back the Transport Licensing Authority.
In the olden days - before rail was deregulated, corporatised, privatised, leveraged, listed, asset-stripped, on-sold, delisted and renationalised - the authority bore a weighty responsibility: deciding who was allowed not to transport their goods by train.
For - and younger readers can be forgiven for finding this hard to believe - it was the law of the land that if you wanted to freight goods more than a certain distance and there were rail tracks linking the two points in question, then rail it had to be.
Until the late 1970s, the distance was 40 miles. Even by the time the limit was removed, in 1983, the limit for non-rail freight was still only 150km. But, if you had a really, really good argument, you could beg the Transport Licensing Authority for permission to ship your goods by truck instead.
A newspaper clipping from 1980, for example, records the authority hearing a brewery manager's plea to use road transport, on the grounds that most of the beer loaded onto rail wagons appeared to evaporate in transit.
And if that argument failed, there were always dodges like stuffing freight into furniture-removal trucks - household effects were exempt from the limit - and hoping they weren't intercepted by the law, which presumably had rather less on its plate in those tranquil times.
Now the time has come for the authority to be revived. A modest investment would be needed for set-up costs, including hiring consultants to come up with a suitably 21st century name - RailFirst? OnLine? OffRoad? - but imagine the benefits: unclogged motorways, no more worrying as a 40-tonner's grille fills the rear-vision mirror, freight managers freed from the burden of making complex cost comparisons. Better yet, with guaranteed custom, the Government would rake in a healthy dividend on its railways investment, just like it did in the old days.
Thanks to modern technology - barcodes, radio frequency tags, GPS - observance of the law would be much more easily monitored than it was in the past and violators could be easily caught and punished.
But the real beauty of this approach is that, once freight transport has been revolutionised, the same mechanism can be used to ameliorate all manner of problems.
Carbon emissions? Everyone would be free to use a list of approved devices: 10 watt energy-saving lightbulbs, single-bar heaters, bicycles, maybe even scooters. Those who wished to depart from the list, by indulging in a heated towel rail, for example, could make their case before the appropriate authority - OffSwitch, perhaps.
Obesity? Everyone would be free to eat any amount of delicious foods from an approved list - tofu burgers, brown rice, celery sticks. Anyone who wanted to consume items not on the list would be able to apply to the appropriate authority - EatRight? - for approval, providing they made a sufficiently robust case for their dietary departure.
Civil libertarians will quibble, as they do, that these new agencies would in some undefined way constitute an invasion of individual rights.
But surely, given the obvious benefits, no one could object to being required to seek permission not to do something.
There's no knowing where this exciting strategy might lead. In time, it might even be as successful as the railways used to be.