Britain's Forgotten Railways...

A wonderful video, John. Thank you. I spent a very happy hour reminiscing and wondering what might have been with the right investment.

Ironically, I am currently working on reproducing a section of the old G.C. between Aylesbury and London Marylebone which I hope to be able to release via the DLS upon completion. It's only 38 miles long but gets very complex towards the London end.

Thank you again, John, for the memories. It's so sad to see what the money men destroyed in the name of profit.


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Hi everybody.
John, many thanks for posting the two videos on past days of the UK railways in this section of the forum. Over the last eleven days I have been working some very long hours without a day off. Therefore to sit down today and watch those scenes from an era(s) when life ran at a more relaxed pace was simply marvellous.

I suppose all those interested in railways here in Britain have their favourite era in which they feel the UK's railways where at there best. I started to travel extensively on the railway's in the mid nineteen eighties when it dawned on my employer at that time that I and others could use the time travelling by rail to compile reports etc ready to be in the office as soon as we arrived back.

In the above, as someone who has always been good at turning on site notes into full reports I soon found that on longer journeys I was able to spend many a happy hour in the buffet car with other business travelers in a similar situation (LOL). The foregoing gave me many great journey experiences especially as I always had the thought that i was being paid for those many “happy hours”.

Rail travel had been very much the norm for me from the mid eighties until only a few months ago when I supposedly took semi retirement (some joke). In that, for me it was the period from the mid eighties until the late 1990s that where the golden era in British rail travel. The UK's railways in that period were yet to get back into what may be termed as the “mainstream” of British travel and journeys where in reality a pleasure to make.

In the above, the new DMUs along with the Intercity 125s had brought speed and reliability to the railways with no overcrowding at that time and of course on the intercity services as already mentioned the wonderful benefits of the Buffet Car. No other form of land travel can ever come anywhere near the experience of standing up with a glass of cider in hand and chatting while traveling at one hundred and twenty five miles an hour towards home at the end of a long day. All of us that travelled by rail extensively within the company during the above time loved the railways and the journeys we made on them.

Sadly as the British roads became ever more congested many people were forced into rail travel for their daily commute from the late 1990s onwards, a situation the rail authorities seem to have had little idea how to cope with. Overcrowding has replaced the ease of travel we all knew, along with toilets on district services and those wonderful Buffet Cars on the intercity services.

Other forum members will have different ideas as to their golden era on Britain's railways. The above are my own recollections of pleasure one era of rail travel brought to myself.

Again many thanks John for posting the videos and making me think back and relax on a day off. Great stuff

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I'm glad you both enjoyed my find.

I see these videos and I feel a bit of joy seeing the mix of power and then the renaissance of service with the introduction of HSTs and DMUs on the lines during the 1980s. It was in the mid-1980s that I visited Britain with friends and then with my grandmother. It was with her that I had the opportunity to sample a bit of the Southern Region as we took a trip to Hastings then over to East Bourne on a day out to the coast, and then a bit of the Midlands when we took a trip up to Liverpool to search church records for her grand mother.

The service then was and still is far above what we have here in the US, yet so much was lost too, and sadly the Great Central succumbed I think too soon. With the burgeoning populace now taking trains, they are all squeezed into much tighter corridors rather than having the luxury of multiple lines. I would think that the officials, after cutting this line in the name of profits then all without thinking about the future, must be kicking themselves in the backside as they are now facing capacity problems. The sad part is once a line is gone, it's usually gone for good not because nature takes over but more due to the cost of bringing it back. In many ways you have been lucky across the pond with the initiative to return many lines to operation, sadly it's not the case here.


A rather sad video especially when they discuss the Great Central.

Thanks for sharing this video John.

It is a real history lesson, but in fact, it actually gave me some ideas for a future layout. I had planned to build an old scrapped route Plymouth Friary to Turnchapel. Not a big route but it's picturesque overlooking Plymouth harbour with lots of scenery. There are a few others I started but haven't finished yet.

Anyway the video is great. I sent the link to an old train driver I know in Kent.

Cheers, mate,
nice find John, it is just amazing that a lot of the some of the railroad lines stayed open a little longer than others and had some steam engines running just prior to closing, the pulling up of tracks where they once ran was a sad scene too, I had no idea that the Beeching axe did that much damage until I saw the footage, there are very few items of the routes mentioned still standing but in bad shape.
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Hi everybody.
As John and UP5571 have commented the present rail authorities must be “kicking themselves” that so much of the UK's rail network was destroyed under the beeching axe in the 1960s. However, as someone who lived through and remembers that era I would have to comment that the rail situation looked very different at that time as against how it is viewed today.

In the late 1950s Britain finally began to recover from the almost seven years of world war two that had destroyed the UK economy resulting in food rationing until 1952 and power cuts etc until 1955. As the country finally moved forward in the late 1950s employment became plentiful and wages rapidly increased. In the foregoing for the first time ever the ownership of a car became within the range of the average family income and everyone wanted one of those cars.

As car ownership increased so rail passenger numbers decreased along with the ticket revenue they brought. That situation brought British Rail into ever more reliance on the British taxpayers funding of its very existence. At first the government attitude to the deteriorating situation was one of the passenger rail network being a necessary public service and therefore had to be maintained. However, as the British Rail losses grew that stance could not be maintained due to the fact that many of those taxpayers funding the railways where now car owners and no longer wanted to fund a transport system they no longer used.

With the above in mind, the government called in Dr Beeching to “review” the rail situation and he recommended the large cuts that the government approved. However things could have been much worse, as within two years of those cuts starting to be implemented, the government asked Dr Beeching to carry out a further review with a view to a making a second round of cuts to the network. Dr Beeching then resigned his position as the “rail overseer” as he believed that the reduced network had a very necessary social position within the UK's transport infrastructure.

Dr Beeching was very much alone in the above belief at that time for as the huge rail cuts were carried out no meaningful protests were made even from the trade unions as thousands were made redundant within the rail industry. The belief within the vast majority of the population at that time was that the car was king and always would be into the future.

Today we see the Beeching axe on the railways as a huge mistake which with the advantage of hindsight it very much was. However, the majority view in the mid 1960s was that the railways were finished which was a view that was also held by myself at that time.

In the foregoing Dr Beeching brought into being the network we have in the UK today and in that saved the system from much larger cuts which many at that time wished to see implemented.

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Enjoyed the film trip and often think of long closed lines and some of which were in hard terms taken for granted. Remember travelling on the long gone line through Balquidder and later getting off to walk to the actual village about a mile away! The Ballachulish old branch another. did parts of suburban tracks removed here in Glasgow and especially the one along the north side of the River Clyde through Whiteinch where I had lived as a boy. Lovely old Victorian island platform stations along that line. We had 2 stations - Whiteinch Riverside on that Clydeside embankement line and also a terminal on a short branch to Whiteinch Victoria a wee boy my local Sunday School at Gordon Park, hired a multi-coach train from Victoria Park station to take us to Campsie Glen. Later I managed to work out how we got there!. On to the Glasgow-Edinburgh main line then branched off up through Kirkintilloch to the Campsie Glen. Always sad to remember lines you travelled on now a past history.

I visited the GCR at Loughborough this last summer and was impressed by what the restoration society had achieved.

I agree with what Bill said above regarding Beeching. You can see the state of the network clearly in this film and it would have cost a fortune to put it all into good working order. I just wish a lot of the system could have been mothballed rather than being ripped up, especially the east-west routes.