Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Fitbit
Customer Review

10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars British Rail as a train operator, 16 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: British Rail: The Nation's Railway (Hardcover)
This is the story of British Rail as a train operating company. The first chapter discusses railway organisations pre-BR and then the book settles in to talk about marketing and trains themselves. There is plenty of talk about `PEP's and `VEP's etc. However, stations, infrastructure engineering and signalling of trains (all the things that Network Rail does today) are dismissed with a few one liners such as `resignalling', `electrification' `standard rail clips, `continuously welded rail', `TOPS'. There is nothing at all about the development of large signalling control centres, the hugely innovative Solid State Interlocking' (SSI) and Integrated Electronic Control Centre' (IECC), nor of the stewardship of track, structures and electrified lines. So I'm afraid the book covers only half the story of British Rail!
In Chapter 12 the book suddenly changes tack and launches into brief discussions of train disasters. There is no consistent pattern as to why these particular accidents have been singled out for mention: Harrow (SPAD), Hither Green (broken rail), Tattenhall Jn (broken rail), Hixon (slow vehicle collision at AHB), Whiteball (fire aboard sleeper cars), Clapham (signal interlocking bare wire due to poor quality wiring work), Newton (SPAD).
The penultimate chapter covers privatisation which I found to be a most riveting and accurate assessment of the situation. The process was rightly denigrated, with suitable words such as `circus', `incompetence' and `scorched earth policy'. The book does not mention that in his report, McNulty has stated publicly that none of the objectives of privatisation have been achieved. However, the author does acknowledge that the fragmented industry costs substantially more than a unified BR. Also not mentioned, was that BR's final organisation `OfQ' had significant disadvantages in the way that signalling of trains, management of infrastructure maintenance was split up into the businesses including Inter-City and Regional Railways. Artificial boundaries were set up to divide up infrastructure. InterCity signallers at key junctions unreasonably gave total priority to their own early or late running trains. OfQ may have enabled the businesses to have visibility of the full cost of running their trains but the structure was deeply inefficient. Happily this was one thing that privatisation put right to a certain extent. The signalling of trains and overarching infrastructure management was bought back under the control of a single organisation known as Railtrack.
There are several little slip-ups. It is stated that `second' class was replaced by `standard' class by the BTC in 1987. However, BTC ceased to exist in 1963! In discussing the Thameslink project, the point is missed that the quadrupling of tracks through Borough Market facilitates segregation of Thameslink trains and those using Charing Cross, thereby substantially increasing capacity to the latter.
In the section on accidents it gets worse. We are told that the Automatic Warning System (AWS) provides a blank disc when approaching a green signal and warns the driver by a horn in the cab if he has passed a signal at red. This is incorrect. Next, the purpose of a double yellow isn't just for the attention of freight drivers. The `T' of `S&T' stands for Telecommunications not `telegraph'. Automatic Train Protection' (ATP) apparently warns a driver if he `goes through a yellow' whatever that means. The description of a single-lead junction is convoluted. A sketch would have explained the simple concept.
Finally, there are two sets of photographs. The first batch is in monochrome. This is disappointing as, in colour, there would have been a stunning contrast of train liveries such as the Glasgow Blue Train, Deltic in two-tone green and large BR logo Class 50 in blue. Both batches cover just trains and marketing. There are no stations, signal boxes, spectacular viaducts, tunnels etc.
Having worked in the industry since the mid-1960s it is clear to me that on a shoestring budget throughout its existence, BR presided over a cost effective and efficient railway. This didn't come over very strongly in the book probably because the sheer magnitude of what BR did has not been presented in a balanced way.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in


Track comments by e-mail
Tracked by 1 customer

Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 17 Mar 2014, 17:41:15 GMT
John Whelan says:
> This is incorrect.

One wonders if this statement can be substantiated with a reference. British Railways covers a lot of ground, and there are definitely some details that deserve their own book.

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Mar 2014, 09:06:19 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 17 Jul 2015, 11:46:50 BST]

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Jul 2015, 22:21:11 BST
Simes says:
"It suggests to be that it could've done with a good proof read by an expert. "

As indeed could your comment have been!

Posted on 16 Mar 2016, 14:38:31 GMT
I think you're being a bit mean !
Is the book THE DEFINATIVE book on BR? - No.
Is the book an interesting insight - Yes, to me as a non-expert.
Interest in BR is so widespread, from those who know even less than I do to enthusiasts, many who have worked in the industry.
I agree that the photos aren't ideal, and also found the book a bit unbalanced - but nonetheless a great effort and surely worth 3 stars.
‹ Previous 1 Next ›

Review Details



Location: South Norfolk

Top Reviewer Ranking: 117,691