Britain Without Beeching
by Iain Bowen
Publisher: Sea Lion Press
Imagine a world where the Beeching report was not delivered on time and was rejected by the incoming Labour government, and the concept of the Social Railway was delivered years earlier.
There were some closures – although lines more often went into a mothball state – and there were still a lot of station closures, especially on main lines. Not even the Social Railway would cover the smallest villages, and many urban areas had stations closed due to very low usage and adequate alternatives. The retreat of small-wagonload freight continued at the same pace, and the move to Freightliner, Red Star Parcels and bulk-load still occurred.
However, these actions would clearly have a number of consequences for British Railways. There would have been no extra money available for the railways, which would need to keep open the lines that would have been shut. The concept of the Basic Station and the Pay Train came in very early, mainly to save staffing costs, but even these changes failed to defray all the costs of the Social Railway. As a result, there was little money for new rolling stock and even less for improvements to the railway.
Fifty years on from Beeching, our narrator sets out out with an All Line Rover ticket to travel this world. The world of the Slow Train.