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After the Hislop on Beeching topic, which lines would you have definitely saved?

The major links to Devon and Cornwall? The Waverley route? Stirling to Oban via Callander? The Bluebell Line? Somerset & Dorset?

Are there any you'd have closed, such as the very small, hardly used, branch lines?

Should rail freight have been allowed to compete price-wise with road transport in the 50s and 60s?

mal
 

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i would have kept open the great central. it would have been a very usefull third line to the north. it was also built to continental loading gauges so i suspect we would have been seeing some very interesting trains using that route.

One thing that wasnt really mentioned in the film was the issure of redundency. some of these branch lines would be extremly usefull when engineering work is taking place or when there is an accident. there is simply no belt and braces to the current railway an i thnk its getting worse in this respect. you only need an out of control barbecue with a gas bottle nearby and it closes a railway for 24 hours. the minor routes would be invaluable.

Peter
 

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QUOTE (Purley Oaks @ 5 Oct 2008, 12:57) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>After the Hislop on Beeching topic, which lines would you have definitely saved?

The major links to Devon and Cornwall? The Waverley route? Stirling to Oban via Callander? The Bluebell Line? Somerset & Dorset?

Are there any you'd have closed, such as the very small, hardly used, branch lines?

Should rail freight have been allowed to compete price-wise with road transport in the 50s and 60s?

mal
All of them ,but not always with all the rails and infrastructure left in place .The right of way and legal gubbins should have been left intact.Many lines will never be reopened as the right of way is taken over by a business ,roads etc.One day we will need all these lines.The map of Britains more isolated communities is also a map of the railways destroyed and when the oil runs out or just becomes too expensive ,or even a major war in oil exporting regions which involve tankers sinking on a large scale,we will need those lines back .Its simple to relay a replacement rail system on a trackbed that is intact .I do think a lot of those lines were little used and must have cost a fortune to keep running , but that was only in a period of cheap and available oil .Peter's point about alternative routes is a good one .I hadnt thought of that ,probably no-one else did at the time .
 

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RETB could have given extra life to a few routes. Some worth mentioning:

North cornwall line to Padstow. take traffic off congestion summer routes in Cornwall/Devon
Somerset & Dorset ?
Waverley Route
Dumfries /Stranraer

Russell
 

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The point that was made in the programme still stands: most of what was closed was largely unused by the travelling public and freight haulage at that time. A little more strategic thinking to retain the Great Central route, and keep the Waverley open, would have been good, but politics is an inexact science. What was not mentioned was that this was being done at a time of great financial stress for the country; and a solution generally acceptable to the taxpayer had to be found. That the same process was adopted by a Conservative and a Labour Administration, at a time when the distance between these party's policies was significant, tells the story: rapid action was necessary.

The prospect for a better planned process had been torpedoed by BR's own 1955 modernisation plan, something created by professional railwaymen, which had blown a heap of cash and done nothing to improve the financial position of the railway. It's the people responsible for that disaster, and not Dr Beeching called in to make the necessary cost savings on a short timescale, who merit the brickbats. This should not be forgotten: well before Beeching, the UK rail industry's management was given the cash to provide the UK with the the railway it needed. It failed to deliver, and economic necessity forced what followed on successive governments: it was the UK's railway, and the UK electorate's verdict on it...
 

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What amazes me with this country is why didn't Britain follow the Irish route which became EU legislation? In that once a line is closed in Ireland, CIE had to keep everything in place (not necessarily maintained) for 10 YEARS and only after that date could it be lifted. This became an EU Directive and it worked for the Irish, for they have re-opened Limerick-Ennis to passenger traffic and in the process of re-opening the 'Burma Road' (Claremorris-Ennis).

But the Brits as always, do their own thing which is why we the great unwashed, pay the most fines to Brussels! It was worse in Thatcher days, so I don't think there will be that many glowing obituaries when she pops her clogs!

The lines I would loved to have seen still open:

Bishop's Stortford - Braintree. Imagine the diversion potential of that line when the GE main line screws up!

Witham-Maldon. The existing roads and bus services cannot cope with the vast amount of commuters parking up at Witham, Hatfield Peverel and Chelmsford stations.

Aberdeen - Ballater. Ran through some of Scotland's most spectacular countryside and its tourist and commuter potential lies untapped.

Somerset and Dorset. Now imagine that being double-tracked and used as a Cross-Country route by Voyagers?

Over to the rest of you!

Dave
 

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One of the most ridiculous closures was one that affected me personally. The Shoreham-by-sea to Christ's Hospital line was a gem, double track throughout, so engineering works on the main London-Brighton line could be diverted. I suspect that had it been electrified as planned (at various times from 1938 onwards) it would still be there today because it would have opened up a new commuter strip through central Sussex. As it is, the trackbed forms part of the Steyning by-pass, and there's no turning back from that.
Other opinions:
Lunacy to close the Cambridge-Oxford through route and the Cambridge to Colchester through Haverhill line.
As mentioned above and elsewhere many times, closing the GCR was really very silly, the little link from Banbury to Woodford was one of the most important cross-country linkages from SW-NE. Places like Buckingham/Brackley would be larger places today and probably better for it.
Nuts to close Woodhead, the power of those 27000 electrics was awesome on the passengers.
Would've liked to see the Waverley route kept.
Over Stainmore to Tebay/Penrith and also the untapped tourist potental of Penrith Keswick Cockermouth
Could bang on all day.
6991
 

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I would certainl agree with the Waverley, Great Central, S&D and "withered" arm routes and would probably add the Central Wales line as well.

Some lines it has to be said were hopelessly un-economic and were already in trouble before Beeching, an example which springs to mind being the Bluebell line. BR wanted to close that as early as the mid 50's.

Mind you without the closures where would the preservation industry be?

Regards
 

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QUOTE (Piermaster @ 5 Oct 2008, 20:40) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Bishop's Stortford - Braintree. Imagine the diversion potential of that line when the GE main line screws up!

Not long after the line was closed, 3 big housing estates were built in Dunmow, how many other towns suffered rapid expansion after their railway had closed?
All politicions are the same, looking for solutions in the short term, no matter what flag they fly - fools.
Paul M.
 

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How do we know that some lines were un-economic? From watching the programme it seems that no-one new how much money any line was making and all that Beeching did was to run a 7 day survey designed to show that lines were losing money, i.e. taking the survey at lunchtime and not in the morning rush-hour.
 

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QUOTE Lunacy to close the Cambridge-Oxford through route and the Cambridge to Colchester through Haverhill line.

According to this recent BBC report, part of this route may be coming back.

David
 

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QUOTE (poliss @ 6 Oct 2008, 17:13) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>How do we know that some lines were un-economic?
BR as a whole was uneconomic, in the sense that it was costing the taxpayer more than was politically sustainable, in the judgement of the politicians of both major parties of the day. Like it or not, that was what our elected politicians decided on our behalf.
QUOTE (poliss @ 6 Oct 2008, 17:13) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>From watching the programme it seems that no-one knew how much money any line was making and all that Beeching did was to run a 7 day survey designed to show that lines were losing money, i.e. taking the survey at lunchtime and not in the morning rush-hour
Dr Beeching had to collect data on usage, because BR management of the time was unable to supply reliable information on a national basis. This is what it is important to understand: the people responsible for managing the railway did not have the data available. For sure his methodology was not perfect, he had a job to get on with in a short timescale, so he went out and took a snapshot of the system loading. But at least he went out and collected data...

The finger should really be pointed at those who ran BR from its' inception to 1961. How did it finish up such a financial basket case that an outsider to the industry had to be called in to conduct an emergency life saving operation? Any criticism of Dr Beeching, in method or action, has in all justice to be made ten-fold of those who created the situation he was called on to try and retrieve. It's very revealing to read someone in BR middle management at the time like Richard Hardy: he is entirely clear that there was no business plan, no economic data or any analysis of the cost effectiveness of the operation. The railway was simply operated, as if it had divine right to operate 'as it always had done'. Some of it beggars belief: branchline stopping trains that did not recover the cost of the brake block consumption for a stop for example: let alone the capital cost of the equipment, maintenance of the entire infrastructure, wages for all the people employed, fuel, water and lubricants consumed.
 

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I suppose if the politicians tell you to get on with running the railway and you have little or no control over services or fares or even what you can carry then there's little point in wasting even more money collecting data! Then when the politicians decide that you have to save a lot of money but you can change some of these things, the result will be a hasty change of plan.
 

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QUOTE (34C @ 8 Oct 2008, 18:55) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Dr Beeching had to collect data on usage, because BR management of the time was unable to supply reliable information on a national basis. This is what it is important to understand: the people responsible for managing the railway did not have the data available.

This is something we in our "modern" society fail to understand. In the days of the report there was no computerised ticketing or databases. Everything was recorded by hand, in large ledgers, and they are big - I have a couple. The only way that the information on loadings could have been collated was to employ an army of clerks and round up every single piece of paper from the whole system.

I suspect that had this been attempted the clerks would be on their third generation and still trying to get to the bottom of the problem.

Regards
 

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QUOTE I suspect that had this been attempted the clerks would be on their third generation and still trying to get to the bottom of the problem.

So instead of getting a railway "Doomsday Book" the railways just had the day of doom without the intermediate book keeping


David
 
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