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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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In depth idiot
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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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