George Bennie was born at Pollokshaws, Glasgow, in 1892, the son of an engineer. In his youth he began to show signs of his ability as an inventor and several patents were registered in his name.
During the 1920s, he turned his attention to a revolutionary new concept of public transport. His idea was to get railways off of the ground and into the air. Bennie believed that fast passenger traffic should be separated from the slower heavy goods trains.
Essentially a monorail, the 'railplane' would be built above the existing railway system as a passenger-only service, while the slower freight trains would travel below. Bennie hoped that his invention would regain revenue which had been lost because of rail inefficiency.
During 1929-30 Bennie built a test track at Burnbrae, Milngavie, above an existing railway branch line. The result was like a scene from a Jules Verne novel. The strange looking contraption was more like a giant cigar than the latest mode of transport. The car was suspended from a 130-metre girder, while wheels underneath ran on a stabilizer rail to prevent the car from oscillating from side to side. The car was powered by a large propeller at either end. It was said to be capable of travelling at 120mph.
The railplane was built by Beardmores, the firm that created the R34 airship. It was fitted out in contemporary style, with carpeted flooring and panelled ceilings.
The official launch, on July 8th 1930, received a great deal of publicity. During succeeding weeks many visitors came to admire and travel on the revolutionary new invention. It looked as if the Bennie Transport System couldn't fail. The railway companies were interested because of the lower cost of the railplane as compared to an ordinary railway.
Sadly, George Bennie was never able to find financial backing for further development of the system. He had invested large amounts of his own money in the construction of the test track and by 1937 was said to be bankrupt. He died in obscurity in 1957. The railplane and track remained in position at Burnbrae until 1956, when it was sold for scrap.