The Reshaping of British Railways Hardcover – 31 Jan 2013
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Top customer reviews
The report is not an easy read and much of it, in retrospect, doesn't seem to be very sensible. However, it is historically important and I'm glad that I bought it.
The map section is not easy to follow, as I assume there has been a considerable reduction in the reproduction process. I might not have bought it at the price necessary to make the maps easily readable!
Though it is fairly dry for reading, it allows a reader to study all aspects of the report. One minus though is the maps, which for the reprint could have done with being enlarged.
It is such an important document that I believe every railway enthusiast should have a copy - but beware it may send you into terminal depression (no pun intended!)
The foreword to the report is interesting. Beeching describes his proposals as "conservative with regard to closures" (pg2) & "not too drastic" (pg3). Thank goodness he did not go for anything more radical!
Much of the report is devoted to figures, charts and graphs which are presented as if they are the absolute truth. However, remember that all these figures were collected during one week in April 1961 so they are not accurate & do not take into account seasonal variations (eg holiday traffic).
A study of Map no 9 ("proposed withdrawal of passenger train services" in the maps section) for the area you know well will prove fascinating. For example, in East Anglia, Beeching recommended the closure of the whole of the Ipswich - Great Yarmouth (via Lowestoft) line. Fortunately, only Lowestoft - Great Yarmouth closed (in 1970). The rest, Ipswich - Lowestoft, was reprieved by Barbara Castle (when Minister of Transport) and is now flourishing.
Conversely, Beeching did not recommend closure of the King's Lynn - Norwich (via Swaffham & Dereham), King's Lynn - Hunstanton, Magdalen Road (near King's Lynn) - March (via Wisbech) & Cambridge - Bedford lines. However, by the end of 1969 all had sadly closed causing considerable local distress.
The above shows that what Beeching proposed & what we actually ended up with in East Anglia are two different things. Fortunately, in East Anglia the slaughter was finally called off at the end of 1970. Sadly both Lowestoft - Great Yarmouth and Cambridge - St Ives (also recommended for closure by Beeching) were lost in that year.
This document is well worth studying with an open mind.
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