|Industry||Land and sea transport|
|Headquarters||London, United Kingdom|
|Parent||British Transport Commission (1948-1962), British Railways Board (1962-2001)|
British Railways (BR), which from 1965 traded as British Rail, was the operator of most of the rail transport in Great Britain between 1948 and 1997. It was formed from the nationalisation of the "Big Four" British railway companies and lasted until the gradual privatisation of British Rail, in stages between 1994 and 1997. Originally a trading brand of the Railway Executive of the British Transport Commission, it became an independent statutory corporation in 1962: the British Railways Board.
The period of nationalisation saw sweeping changes in the national railway network. A process of dieselisation and electrification took place, and in 1968 steam locomotion had been entirely replaced by diesel and electric power, except for one narrow-gauge tourist line. Passengers replaced freight as the main source of business, and one third of the network was closed by the Beeching Axe of the 1960s.
The British Rail "double arrow" logo is formed of two interlocked arrows showing the direction of travel on a double track railway and was nicknamed "the arrow of indecision". It is now employed as a generic symbol on street signs in Great Britain denoting railway stations, and as part of the Association of Train Operating Companies' jointly-managed National Rail brand is still being printed on railway tickets.
- 1 History
- 2 Accidents and incidents
- 3 Network
- 4 Preserved Railway Lines
- 5 Ships
- 6 Successor companies
- 7 Future
- 8 Parody
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
Nationalisation in 1948
The rail transport system in Great Britain developed during the 19th century. After the grouping of 1923 under the Railways Act 1921 there were four large railway companies, each dominating its own geographic area: the Great Western Railway (GWR), the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS), the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) and the Southern Railway (SR). During World War I the railways were under state control, which continued until 1921. Complete nationalisation had been considered, and the Railways Act 1921 is sometimes considered as a precursor to that, but the concept was rejected; nationalisation was subsequently carried out after World War II, under the Transport Act 1947. This Act made provision for the nationalisation of the network, as part of a policy of nationalising public services by Clement Attlee's Labour Government. British Railways came into existence as the business name of the Railway Executive of the British Transport Commission (BTC) on 1 January 1948 when it took over the assets of the Big Four.
There were also joint railways between the big four and a few light railways to consider (see list of constituents of British Railways). Excluded from nationalisation were industrial lines like the Oxfordshire Ironstone Railway. Narrow-gauge railways, like the Ffestiniog Railway were also excluded, apart from three already owned by a company that was itself nationalised. The London Underground — publicly owned since 1933 — was also nationalised, becoming the London Transport Executive of the British Transport Commission. The Bicester Military Railway was already run by the government. The electric Liverpool Overhead Railway was also excluded from nationalisation.
The Railway Executive was conscious that some lines on the (then very dense) network were unprofitable and hard to justify socially, and a programme of closures began almost immediately after nationalisation. However, the general financial position of BR became gradually poorer, until an operating loss was recorded in 1955. The Executive itself had been abolished in 1953 by the Conservative government, and control of BR transferred directly to the parent Commission. Other changes to the British Transport Commission at the same time included the return of road haulage to the private sector.
British Railways was divided into regions as follows:
- Southern Region of British Railways
- Western Region of British Railways
- London Midland Region of British Railways
- Eastern Region of British Railways
- North Eastern Region of British Railways
- Scottish Region of British Railways
The North Eastern Region was merged with the Eastern Region in 1967. In the 1980s, the regions were abolished and replaced by "business sectors", a process known as sectorisation.
The Anglia Region was created in late 1987, its first General Manager being John Edmonds, who began his appointment on 19 October 1987. Full separation from the Eastern Region – apart from engineering design needs – occurred on 29 April 1988. It handled the services from Fenchurch Street and Liverpool Street, its western boundary being: Hertford East; Meldreth; and Whittlesea.
1955 Modernisation Plan
The report latterly known as the "Modernisation Plan" was published in January 1955. It was intended to bring the railway system into the 20th century. A government White Paper produced in 1956 stated that modernisation would help eliminate BR's financial deficit by 1962, but the figures in both this and the original plan were produced for political reasons and not based on detailed analysis. The aim was to increase speed, reliability, safety, and line capacity through a series of measures that would make services more attractive to passengers and freight operators, thus recovering traffic lost to the roads. Important areas included:
- Electrification of principal main lines, in the Eastern Region, Kent, Birmingham Liverpool/Manchester and Central Scotland
- Large-scale dieselisation to replace steam locomotives
- New passenger and freight rolling stock
- Resignalling and track renewal
- Modern marshalling yards
- The closure of an unspecified, but relatively small, number of lines
The government appeared to endorse the 1955 programme (costing £1.2 billion), but did so largely for political reasons. This included the withdrawal of steam traction and its replacement by diesel (and some electric) locomotives. Not all the modernisations would be effective at reducing costs. The dieselisation program gave contracts primarily to British suppliers, who had limited experience of diesel locomotive manufacture, and rushed commissioning based on an expectation of rapid electrification resulted in numbers of locomotives with poor designs, and a lack of standardisation. At the same time containerised freight was being developed. The marshalling yard building programme was a failure; being based on a belief in the continued viability of wagon load traffic in the face of increasingly effective road competition, and lacking effective forward planning or realistic assessments of future freight.
The Beeching report
During the late 1950s, railway finances continued to worsen, and in 1959 the government stepped in, limiting the amount the BTC could spend without ministerial authority. A White Paper proposing reorganisation was published in the following year, and a new structure was brought into effect by the Transport Act 1962. This abolished the Commission and replaced it by a number of separate Boards. These included a British Railways Board, which took over on 1 January 1963.
Following semi-secret discussions on railway finances by the government-appointed Stedeford Committee in 1961, one of its members, Dr Richard Beeching, was offered the post of chairing the BTC while it lasted, and then becoming the first Chairman of the British Railways Board.
A major traffic census in April 1961, which lasted one week, was used in the compilation of a report on the future of the network. This report—The Reshaping of British Railways—was published by the BRB in March 1963. The proposals, which became known as the "Beeching Axe", were dramatic. A third of all passenger services and more than 4,000 of the 7,000 stations would close. Beeching, who is thought to have been the author of most of the report, set out some dire figures. One third of the network was carrying just 1% of the traffic. Of the 18,000 passenger coaches, 6,000 were said to be used only 18 times a year or less. Although maintaining them cost between £3m and £4m a year, they earned only about £0.5m.
Most of the closures were carried out between 1963 and 1970 (including some which were not listed in the report) while other suggested closures were not carried out. The closures were heavily criticised at the time, and continue to be controversial. A small number of stations and lines closed under the Beeching programme have been reopened, with further reopenings proposed.
A second Beeching report, "The Development of the Major Trunk Routes", followed in 1965. This did not recommend closures as such, but outlined a "network for development". The fate of the rest of the network was not discussed in the report.
The basis for calculating passenger fares changed in 1964. In future, fares on some routes—such as rural, holiday and commuter services—would be set at a higher level than on other routes; previously, fares had been calculated using a simple rate for the distance travelled, which at the time was 3d per mile second class, and 4½d per mile first class (equivalent to £0.21 and £0.32 respectively, in 2014).
Passenger levels decreased steadily from the late 1950s to late 1970s, but experienced a renaissance with the introduction of the high-speed InterCity 125 trains in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Network improvements included completing electrification of the Great Eastern Main Line from London to Norwich between 1976 and 1986 and the East Coast Main Line from London to Edinburgh between 1985 and 1990. A main line route closure during this period of relative network stability was the 1500V DC-electrified Woodhead Line between Manchester and Sheffield: passenger service ceased in 1970 and goods in 1981.
A further British Rail report, from a committee chaired by Sir David Serpell, was published in 1983. The Serpell Report made no recommendations as such, but did set out various options for the network including, at their most extreme, a skeletal system of less than 2000 route km. This report was not welcomed, and the government decided to quietly leave it on the shelf. Meanwhile, BR was gradually re-organised, with the regional structure finally being abolished and replaced with business-led sectors. This process, known as "sectorisation", led to far greater customer focus, but was cut short in 1994 with the splitting up of BR for privatisation.
Upon sectorisation in 1982, three passenger sectors were created: InterCity, operating principal express services; London & South East (renamed Network SouthEast in 1986) operating commuter services in the London area; and Provincial (renamed Regional Railways in 1989) responsible for all other passenger services. In the metropolitan counties local services were managed by the Passenger Transport Executives. Provincial was the most subsidised (per passenger km) of the three sectors; upon formation, its costs were four times its revenue.
British Rail Investment
|This section is incomplete. (February 2013)|
British Rail rebuilt London Liverpool Street in 1991, opened by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II. British Rail constructed a new station at Stansted Airport in 1991. British Rail re-opened the line to Aberdare in 1988 and the Maesteg Line in 1992. Electrified the line to King's Lynn in 1992. In 1988, an Advert for British Rail directed by Hugh Hudson was made called 'Britain's Railway' and shows some of the most iconic railway structures in Britain including the Forth Rail Bridge, Royal Albert Bridge, Glenfinnan Viaduct and London Paddington station.
Privatisation of British Rail
Between 1994 and 1997, British Rail was privatised. Ownership of the track and infrastructure passed to Railtrack on 1 April 1994; afterwards passenger operations were franchised to individual private-sector operators (originally there were 25 franchises); and the freight services sold outright (six companies were set up, but five of these were sold to the same buyer).
The Waterloo and City line had been part of BR Network SouthEast and was not included in the privatisation. It was transferred to London Underground in December 1994. The remaining obligations of British Rail not mentioned above were transferred to BRB (Residuary) Ltd.
At the time privatisation of British Rail was proposed by the Conservative government in 1992 many bodies opposed the process, including the Labour party and the rail unions. The Labour party initially proposed to reverse the nationalisation process; however the New Labour manifesto of 1997 did not propose to reverse privatisation but opposed Conservative plans for privatisation of the London Underground.
Rail unions have been historically opposed to the privatisation; however in 2004 ASLEF general secretary, Lew Adams stated on a radio phone-in program: "All the time it was in the public sector, all we got were cuts, cuts, cuts. And today there are more members in the trade union, more train drivers, and more trains running. The reality is that it worked, we’ve protected jobs, and we got more jobs."
Accidents and incidents
Main article: Rail accidents in Winsford
- On 17 April 1948, a postal train was in a rear-end collision with a passenger train at Winsford, Cheshire due to a signalman's error. In the first major accident of the newly formed British Railways, 24 people were killed.
- On 17 May 1948, a freight train ran away and was in collision with an empty stock train at Battyeford, West Riding of Yorkshire.
- On 17 July 1948, a passenger train was derailed at New Southgate, London due to a combination of defective track and excessive speed. One person was killed.
- On 19 February 1949, a parcels train became divided at New Southgate. The rear portion ran back, obstructing the main line, from which the train had just been crossed onto the slow line. Due to a signalman's error, an express passenger train ran into the vans and was derailed.
- On 14 November 1949, a rake of carriages were left foul of an adjacent line at Bournemouth Central station, Hampshire. A locomotive struck them and was derailed. One person was injured.
- On 5 June 1950, An express passenger train was derailed at Tollerton, Nottinghamshire due to heat buckled track.
- On 8 June 1950, a carriage of an express passenger train caught fire. The train was brought to a stand at Beattock, Dumfriesshire. Five people were killed and one was injured.
- On 27 August 1950, an express passenger train was in a rear-end collision with a light engine at Penmaenmawr, Denbighshire due to a signalman's error. One person was killed. Prompt action by the fireman of the light engine prevented a freight train from running into the wreckage.
- On 23 October 1950, a passenger train was derailed at Drumburgh, Cumberland due to defective track. Two people were killed and three were injured.
- On 5 August 1951, an electric multiple unit overran signals and was in a rear-end collision with another at Ford, West Sussex. Nine people were killed and 47 were seriously injured.
Main article: Doncaster rail crash
- On 9 August 1951, an express passenger train was derailed at Doncaster, Yorkshire due to defective track. Fourteen people were killed and twelve were injured.
- On 17 August 1951, two electric multiple units were in a head-on collision at Newcastle Central station, Northumberland after one of them departed against a danger signal. Two people were killed.
Main article: Weedon rail crashes
- On 21 September 1951, an express passenger tain was derailed at Weedon, Northamptonshire due to a defective bogie on the locomotive hauling it. Fifteen people were killed and 35 were injured.
- On 19 November 1951, a bridge was washed away between Cocking and Midhurst, West Sussex. A freight train was derailed when it attempted to cross the bridge. Recovery of the locomotive took more than three months.
- On 21 April 1952, an express passenger train was derailed at Blea Moor Loops, Cumberland due to a defect on one of the locomotives hauling it, causing points to move under the train.
- On July 20 1952, a passenger train ocerran signals and was derailed by trap points at Shawford, Hampshire.
Main article: Harrow and Wealdstone rail crash
- On 8 October 1952, an express passenger train overran signals and was in a rear-end collision with a local passenger train at Harrow and Wealdstone, Middlesex. An express passenger train travelling in the opposite direction then ran into the wreckage. In the deadliest accident for British Railways, 112 people were killed and 240 were injured.
- In 1952, a rake of wagons ran away and were derailed at Lockwood, Yorkshire.
Main article: Irk Valley Junction rail crash
- On 15 August 1953, an electric multiple unit overran signals and collided with a freight train at Irk Valley Junction, Collyhurst, Lancashire. The collision occurred on a viaduct; one carriage falling 40 feet (12 m) into the River Irk. Ten people were killed and 58 were injured.
- On 16 August 1953, a passenger train became divided and derailed at Kingsbury, Warwickshire due to a combination of defects on the locomotive and the condition of the track.
- On 4 September 1953, a passenger train was derailed at Bethnal Green, London when a set of points moved under it.
- On 3 February 1954, an express passenger train was derailed at Watford Junction station, Hertfordshire due to a broken rail. Nine people were injured.
- On 8 May 1954, an express freight train became divided and was derailed at Plumpton, Cumberland.
- On 23 September 1954, a freight train overran signals and was derailed by trap points at Whitchurch Town station, Hampshire.
Main article: Sutton Coldfield rail crash
- On 23 January 1955, an express passenger train was derailed at Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire due to excessive speed on a curve. Seventeen people were killed and 25 were injured.
- On 7 August 1955, an express passenger train was derailed at Barby, Northamptonshire due to excessive speed through a set of points. One person was killed and eighteen were injured. Errors by a pilotman during single line working and confusion over where the train was due to be divertes were major contributory factors.
Main article: Milton rail crash
- On 20 November 1955, an excursion train was derailed at Milton, Oxfordshire due to excessive speed through a crossover. Eleven people were killed and 157 were injured.
- On 23 December 1955, a passenger train was in a rear-end collision with another at Woking, Surrey.
- On 17 August 1956, a rake of carriages ran away and collided with another rake of carriages at Bournemouth West, Hampshire.
- On 25 August 1956, an empty stock train ran away and crashed through the buffers at Filey Holiday Camp station, Yorkshire due to the failure to connect the brake pipe between the train and the locomotive hauling it.
- On 9 February 1957, a freight train ran away due to a broken steam brake pipe in the cab of the locomotive hauling it. It collided with a diesel multiple unit at Chapel-en-le-Frith station, Derbyshire. Staff there had enough warning to be able to evacuate it before the collision. Driver John Axon, who had remained with the train, was killed. He was awarded a posthumous George Cross.
- On 9 August 1957, a train formed of two electric multiple units was in a head-on collision with a light engine at Staines, Middlesex after it departed against a danger signal. Nine people were injured.
Main article: Lewisham rail crash
- On 6 December 1957, an express passenger train overran signals and ran into the rear of an electric multiple unit at St Johns, London. A bridge collapsed onto the wreckage, crushing three carriages of the express. Ninety people were killed, 173 were injured.
- In December 1957, a freight train overran signals and was derailed at Woodhay, Hampshire.
Main article: Dagenham rail crash
- On 30 January 1958, a passenger train overran signals and was in a rear-end collision with another at Dagenham station, Essex. Ten people were killed and 89 were injured.
- On 4 April 1958, a parcels train overran signals and was in collision with an electric multiple unit at Gloucester Road Junction, Croydon, Surrey. Six people were injured.
- On 20 May 1958, a passenger train was in collision with a locomotive and brake van at Arkleston Junction, Paisley, Renfrewshire due to errors by the driver of the locomotive. One person was killed and 26 were hospitalised.
- On 28 June 1958, a rake of carriages ran away and were derailed at Lockwood, Yorkshire.
- On 4 July 1958, an empty stock train was in a head-on collision with an electric multiple unit at Maze Hill, London after the latter overran signals. Forty-five people were injured.
- On 5 August 1958, a passenger train crashed through the buffers at York.
- On 12 August 1958, an electric multiple unit train was derailed at Borough Market Junction, London due to defective track. Six people were injured.
Main article: Eastbourne rail crash
- On 25 August 1958, a sleeping car train overran a signal and was in a head-on collision with a train formed of two electric multiple units at Eastbourne, East Sussex. Five people were killed and 40 were injured.
- On 19 November 1958, a freight train overran signals and was in a rear-end collision with another at Hitchin, Hertfordshire. A third freight train ran into the wreckage.
- On 22 November 1958, a passenger train was derailed at Balnaguard, Perthshire when a bridge was washed away in a storm. Two people were slightly injured.
- In 1958, a passenger train was derailed at Millbrook, Southampton when a faulty point motor moved a set of points under the train.
- On 29 October 1959, a passenger train overran signals and was derailed by trap points at St Denys, Hampshire.
- On 4 November 1959, a freight train skidded and came to rest foul of the line at West Sleekburn, Northumberland where another freight train was in a head-on collision with it. Two people were killed.
- On 9 November 1959, a freight train ran away and collided with an empty sock train at Finsbury Park, London.
- On 12 November 1959, a passenger train overran signals and was in a rear-end collision with another at East Ham. London. Thirteen people were injured.
- On 15 December 1959, a passener train was in collision with a rake of vans at London Victoria station. Eleven people were injured.
- On 9 January 1960, a freight train was derailed at Kentish Town, London.
- On 19 February 1960, a freight train was derailed at Consett, County Durham.
- On 12 December 1960, a passenger train overran signals and was derailed at St Denys, Hanpshire. Two people were injured.
- On 11 February 1961, an express freight train became divided between Rugby Central station, Warwickshire and Lutterworth, Leicestershire. The rear portion was derailed. An express passenger train ran into the wreckage from the rear. One person was killed and four were injured.
- On 13 February 1961, an express passenger train was in collision with a freight train that was being shunted at Baschurch, Shropshire due to a signalman's error. Three people were killed and two were injured.
- In February 1961, a diesel multiple unit ran away and crashed through the buffers at Royton, Lancashire. The leading carriage crashed into a terraced house and caught fire, seriously injuring the driver.
- On 20 March 1961, a diesel electric multiple unit and an electric multiple unit were in a side-long collision at Cannon Street, London after the latter overran signals.
- On 11 April 1961, an electric multiple unit overran signals and was in collision with a light engine at Waterloo station, London. One person was killed and fourteen were injured.
- On 18 April 1961, a passenger train was derailed at Pitsea, Essex due to a pointsman's error during single line working.
- On 6 June 1961, a light engine was in collision with a freight train at Carlisle Citadel, Cumberland.
- On 16 July 1961, a train formed of two diesel multiple units was in collision with a rake of wagons near Weeton, Lancashire due to a signalman's error and was derailed. Seven people were killed and 116 were injured.
- On 16 October 1961, a freight train ran away approaching Robin Hoods Bay station, Yorkshire. As there was a train approaching from the opposite direction, the signalman diverted it into a siding, where it crashed through the buffers.
- On 7 December 1961, a light engine collided with a freight train at Bodmin General station, Cornwall due to a signal not giving a clear danger signal.
- On 15 December 1961, an empty stock train was in a rear-end collision with a freight train at Conington, Huntingdonshire during permissive block working. A freight train then ran into the wreckage, followed a few minutes later by a third freight train.
- On 7 January 1962, a freight train was derailed at Mirfield, Yorkshire.
- On 4 June 1962, an express passenger train was derailed at Lincoln Central station, Lincolnshire due to excessive speed on a curve. Three people were killed and 49 were injured.
- On 1 August 1962, an electric multiple unit was derailed at Barnham, West Sussex when points moved under the train due to an electrical fault. Thirty-eight people were injured.
- On 5 March 1965, a freight train overran signals and collided with another freight train at Itchingfield Junction, Hampshire. Two people were killed.
- On 23 March 1963, a freight train was derailed between Burghclere and Highclere stations, Hampshire.
- On 23 October 1964, and electric multiple unit was derailed near Brighton, East Sussex and was severely damaged. It was placed in the Lover's Walk Sidings for cutting up. On 25 October, steam crane DS1196 overturned whilst moving one of the motor bogies of the electric multiple unit. It was scrapped in situ.
- On 7 May 1965, a freight train was derailed at Preston-le-Skerne, County Durham. A newspaper train collided with the derailed wagons and was itself derailed.
- On 14 August 1966, an express passenger train ran into a landslip and was derailed at Sanquhar, Dumfriesshire and was derailed.
- On 30 September 1966, a freight train overran signals and was derailed by trap points at Wallers Ash, Hampshire.
Main article: Thirsk rail crash (1967)
- On 31 July 1967, a freight train was derailed at Thirsk, Yorkshire with some of the wagons coming to rest foul of an adjacent line. An express passenger train collided with them. Seven people were killed and 45 were injured.
- On 28 November 1967, a newspaper train was derailed at Raynes Park, London, severely damaging a footbrige when one of the vans collided with its supporting pillars.
Main article: Hixon rail crash
- On 6 January 1968, an express passenger train was in collision with an abnormal load on a level crossing at Hixon, Staffordshire. Eleven people were killed and 45 were injured.
- On 1 September 1968, a freight train was derailed at Aldwyth, Dumfriesshire.
Main article: Rail accidents at Morpeth
- On 7 May 1969, an express passenger train was derailed at Morpeth, Northumberland due to excessive speed on a curve. Six people were killed and 46 were injured.
- On 26 July 1971, an electric multiple unit departed from Macclesfield station against signals and was derailed by trap points.
- On 28 July 1971, a parcels train was derailed at Guildford, Surrey.
- In June 1973, a freight train was derailed at Ashwood Dale, Derbyshire due to a combination of excessive speed and defective track. The line was closed for several weeks.
- In 1973, a freight train was derailed inside Disley Tunnel, Cheshire due to a broken rail. Recovery of the wagons took about a week.
Main article: Nuneaton rail crash
- On 6 June 1975, an express passenger train was derailed at Nuneaton, Warwickshire due to excessive speed during permanent way works. Six people were killed and 38 were injured.
- In September 1975, Class 33 locomotive 33 041 was involved in an accident in London and was consequently written off.
- On 6 August 1975, a freight train was unable to stop due to a lack of brake power. It collided with another freight train at Weaver Junction, Cheshire.
- On 26 October 1975, an express passenger train failed at Lunan, Angus. A locomotive was sent to its assistance, but crashed into the rear of the train. One person was killed and 42 were injured.
- On 2 January 1976, a light engine was in a rear-end collision with a parcels train at Worcester Tunnel Junction during time interval working. Both crew were killed.
- On 25 June 1976, a diesel multiple unit passenger train overran signals and collided with another diesel multiple unit at Luton, Bedfordshire. An express passenger train then collided with the wreckage, striking it with a glancing blow.
- On 5 September 1977, a mail train was in a head-on collision with a diesel multiple unit at Farnley Junction, Leeds, West Yorkshire due to a signalling fault. Two people were killed and fifteen were injured.
- On 11 October 1977, a freight train was derailed at Mottingham, London.
- In September 1978, a freight train ran away and was derailed by trap points at Chinley, Derbyshire.
- On 1 March 1979, a rake of wagons ran away and was derailed by trap points at Peak Forest, Derbyshire.
- On 29 November 1979, a High Speed Train was derailed at Northallerton, North Yorkshire.
- In 1979, a freight train was derailed inside New Mills Tunnel, Derbyshire when the track spread under the train due to defective track maintenance procedures.
- On 22 May 1980, a sleeper train was derailed at Prestonpans, Lothian due to vandalism.
- On 8 April 1981, a freight train was derailed at Hadfield, Derbyshire.
- On 16 January 1982, a freight train was derailed at Chinley, Derbyshire.
- On 13 November 1984, a freight train was derailed at Stockport, Cheshire due to a defective wagon.
- On 30 November 1984, a passenger train was derailed at Stoulton, Worcestershire due to defective track. Two people were injured.
- On 20 February 1987, a freight train ran away and was derailed by trap points at Chinley, Derbyshire. Another train was in collision with the wreckage.
- On 6 August 1987, A freight train ran away and was derailed by trap points at Baddesley Ensor, Warwickshire.
- In January 1988, a freight train was sent into a siding and derailed at Tavistock Junction, Devon due to a pointsman's error.
- On 14 June 1988, a freight train was overran signals and was derailed by trap points at Copyhold Junction, West Sussex. The locomotive was dismantled in stages in August and October before being taken to Doncaster Works and rebuilt.
- On 4 October 1989, two diesel multiple units were in collision at Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. Eighteen people were injured.
Main article: Cannon Street station rail crash
- On 8 January 1991, a train formed of two electric multiple units collided with the buffers at Cannon Street station, London. Two people were killed and 534 were injured.
- On 16 May 1991, a tank wagon train was derailed and caught fire at Bradford-on-Tone, Somerset.
- On 2 November 1991, a sandite train caught fire inside Standedge Tunnel, Lancashire.
The former BR network, with the trunk routes of the West Coast Main Line, East Coast Main Line, Great Western Main Line and Midland Main Line, remains mostly unchanged since privatisation. Several lines have reopened and more are proposed, particularly in Scotland and Wales where the control of railway passenger services is devolved from central government. However, in England passenger trains have returned to Mansfield, Corby, Chandlers Ford, the reopened line to Aylesbury Vale Parkway and there are numerous other proposals to restore services, such as Oxford-Milton Keynes/Aylesbury, Lewes-Uckfield, Bristol-Portishead and Plymouth-Tavistock. In London, Tyne and Wear, Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and Nottingham urban light-rail systems have taken over the routes of some former BR routes.
In Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government successfully supported the re-opening to passenger services, of the Vale of Glamorgan Line between Barry and Bridgend in 2005. In 2008 the Ebbw Valley Railway reopened between Ebbw Vale Parkway and Cardiff, with services to Newport scheduled to commence by 2011. (The Barry-Bridgend route was included in the closures proposed in the Beeching report of March 1963 and its services were duly withdrawn in June 1964, but Ebbw Vale had already been closed to passengers before the report was published.)
In Scotland the Scottish Government have reinstated the lines between Hamilton and Larkhall, Stirling and Alloa, and Airdrie to Bathgate. The biggest line reinstatement project is the former Waverley railway Edinburgh to Borders line.
Preserved Railway Lines
Preserved lines, or Heritage railways, have reopened some lines previously closed by British Rail. These range from picturesque rural branch lines like the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway to sections of mainline such as the Great Central Railway. Many have links to the National Rail network, both station interchange, for instance the Severn Valley Railway between Kidderminster and Kidderminster Town, and physical rail connections like the Watercress Line at Alton.
Although most are operated solely as leisure amenities some also provide educational resources, and a few have ambitions to restore commercial services over routes abandoned by the nationalised industry.
British Railways operated a number of ships from its formation in 1948 on a variety of routes. Many ships were acquired on nationalisation, and others were built for operation by British Railways or its later subsidiary, Sealink. Those ships capable of carrying rail vehicles were classed under TOPS as Class 99.
Under the process of British Rail's privatisation, operations were split into more than 100 companies. The ownership and operation of the infrastructure of the railway system was taken over by Railtrack. The Telecomms infrastructure and British Rail Telecommunications was sold to Racal, which in turn was sold to Global Crossing and merged with Thales Group. The rolling stock was transferred to three private ROSCOs (rolling stock companies). Passenger services were divided into 25 operating companies, which were let on a franchise basis for a set number of years, whilst goods services were sold off completely. Dozens of smaller engineering and maintenance companies were also created and sold off.
British Rail's passenger services came to an end upon the franchising of ScotRail; the final train that the company operated was a Railfreight Distribution goods train in autumn 1997. The British Railways Board continued in existence as a corporation until early 2001, when it was replaced with the Strategic Rail Authority.
Since privatisation, the structure of the rail industry and number of companies has changed a number of times as franchises have been relet and the areas covered by franchises restructured. Franchise-based companies that took over passenger rail services include:
- Midland Mainline—superseded in 2007 by East Midlands Trains
- Great North Eastern Railway—superseded in 2007 by National Express East Coast, which has since been brought back full circle into public ownership with the creation of the new government controlled East Coast operator.
- Virgin Trains (West Coast)
- Virgin CrossCountry—superseded in 2007 by CrossCountry
- ScotRail operated by National Express—superseded in 2004 by First ScotRail (now branded as ScotRail—Scotland's Railway)
- Great Western Trains—from 1998: First Great Western
- Wales and West—became Wessex Trains and Wales and Borders (including the Cardiff Railway Company services operated as Valley Lines) in 2001, after being split into two separate franchises, and now run by First Great Western and Arriva Trains Wales
- Arriva Trains Northern originally Northern Spirit, succeeded in 2004 by First TransPennine Express and Northern Rail
- First North Western originally North Western Trains, succeeded in 2004 by First TransPennine Express and Northern Rail
- Anglia Railways, Great Eastern (later First Great Eastern), and the West Anglia section of WAGN were all merged to become ONE later renamed National Express East Anglia, superseded in 2012 by Abellio Greater Anglia
- Thameslink and Great Northern Section of WAGN grouped together to form First Capital Connect as part of the Thameslink Great Northern Franchise
- LTS later renamed c2c
- Connex South Eastern became South Eastern Trains, then Southeastern
- Connex South Central became South Central and later renamed Southern
- Merseyrail Electrics superseded by Arriva Trains Merseyside and now Merseyrail
- South West Trains
- Central Trains—divided in 2007 between London Midland, CrossCountry and East Midlands Trains
- London Underground for the short underground Waterloo & City line
- Silverlink Trains—divided in 2007 between London Overground and London Midland
The renationalisation of the railways of Britain continue to have popular support. A poll in 2012 showed 70% support for renationalisation.
Due to rail franchises lasting many years full renationalisation would take a long time unless compensation was paid to terminate contracts early. When the infrastructure owning company Railtrack ceased trading the Labour government set up a not for profit company Network Rail to take over the duties rather than renationalise this part of the network.
In 1989, the ITV (TV Network) Sketch Show Spitting Image made a parody of Hudson's British Rail advert on the plans of the Conservative British Government to privatise the railways featuring numerous of the show's puppets (including the show's portrayal of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher), numerous BR trains and landmarks and even a cardboard cutout of Thomas the Tank Engine.
- Divisions, brands and liveries
- Sealink BR's sea division
- British Rail Telecommunications
- British Rail brand names
- British Rail corporate liveries
- BRB (Residuary) Ltd.
- Classification and numbering schemes
- British Carriage and Wagon Numbering and Classification
- British Rail locomotive and multiple unit numbering and classification
- Rolling stock
- List of British Rail classes
- Steam locomotives of British Railways
- List of British Railways steam locomotives as of 31 December 1967
- British Transport Police
- British Rail flying saucer
- British Rail sandwich
- Rail Europe
- Deutsche Bahn
- Nederlandse Spoorwegen
- Shannon, Paul. "Blue Diesel Days". Ian Allan Publishing. Retrieved 2008-11-16.[dead link]
- Her Majesty's Government (2002). "The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 (SI 2002:3113)". Retrieved 2009-03-27.
- "1920-08-03". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard) (Hansard). col. 711–713. Retrieved 2009-07-18.
- Her Majesty's Government (1947). "Transport Act 1947". The Railways Archive. (originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office). Retrieved 2006-11-25.
- Slater, John, ed. (December 1987). "Anglia Region created". Railway Magazine (Cheam: Prospect Magazines) 133 (1040): 758. ISSN 0033-8923.
- Slater, John, ed. (July 1988). "Anglia takes over". Railway Magazine (Cheam: Prospect Magazines) 134 (1047): 426. ISSN 0033-8923.
- British Transport Commission (1954). "Modernisation and Re-Equipment of British Rail". The Railways Archive. (Originally published by the British Transport Commission). Retrieved 2006-11-25.
- Loft, Charles (2013) Last Trains - Dr Beeching and the Death of Rural England ISBN 9781849545006
- Terence Richard Gourvish; N. Blake (1986). British Railways, 1948-73: a business history. Cambridge University Press. pp. 286–288.
- Her Majesty's Government (1962). "Transport Act 1962". The Railways Archive. (originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office). Retrieved 2006-11-25.
- "Back to Beeching", BBC Radio 4, 27 February 2010
- British Transport Commission (1963). "The Reshaping of British Railways - Part 1: Report". The Railways Archive. (originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office). Retrieved 2006-11-25.
- British Transport Commission (1963). "The Reshaping of British Railways—Part 2: Maps". The Railways Archive. (originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office). Retrieved 2006-11-25.
- Richard Beeching "The Reshaping of British Railways",p.15
- "The Economics and Social Aspects of the Beeching Plan"—Lord Stoneham, House of Lords, 1963
- "Can Beeching be undone?". 2009.
- "Move to reinstate lost rail lines", BBC, 15 June 2009
- "The Development Of The Major Railway Trunk Routes", The Railways Archive (British Railways Board), February 1965
- Cooke, B.W.C., ed. (July 1964). "Notes and News: New fares structure". Railway Magazine (Westminster: Tothill Press) 110 (759): 592.
- UK CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Gregory Clark (2013), "What Were the British Earnings and Prices Then? (New Series)" MeasuringWorth.
- The UK Department for Transport (DfT), specifically Table 6.1 from Transport Statistics Great Britain 2006 (4MB PDF file)
- Marsden, Colin J. (1983). British Rail 1983 Motive Power: Combined Volume. London: Ian Allen. ISBN 0-7110-1284-9.
- Thomas, David St John; Whitehouse, Patrick (1990). BR in the Eighties. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. ISBN 0-7153-9854-7.
- "Britain's Railway Advert"
- Her Majesty's Government (1903). "Railways Act 1993". The Railways Archive. (originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office). Retrieved 2006-11-26.
- "EWS Railway—Company History". Archived from the original on 2006-09-30. Retrieved 2006-11-26.
- - Macintyre, Donald (10 January 1995), "Blair soft-pedals over reversing BR privatisation", www.independent.co.uk
- "Labour Party Manifesto", www.labour-party.org.uk (website unaffiliated with the official Labour Party), 1997, Railways
- TRANSCRIPT FROM THE BILL GOOD SHOW, CKNW RADIO, VANCOUVER - Interview with Lew Adams, Board Member, Strategic Rail Authority, UK (transcript), Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships website, 26 November 2004
- Earnshaw, Alan (1989). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 5. Penryn: Atlantic Books. pp. 3, 30, 32–33, 38–42, 44–47. ISBN 0-906899-35-4.
- Earnshaw, Alan (1990). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 6. Penryn: Atlantic Books. pp. 28, 30–47. ISBN 0-906899-37-0.
- Hoole, Ken (1982). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 3. Redruth: Atlantic Books. pp. 39–40, 43, 45–46, 48. ISBN 0-906899-05-2.
- Earnshaw, Alan (1993). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 8. Penryn: Atlantic Books. pp. 3, 23–25, 32–35, 37–41, front and back cover. ISBN 0-906899-52-4.
- Bishop, Bill (1984). Off the Rails. Southampton: Kingfisher. pp. 35–36, 42–47, 50, 53–68 76–77, 83–87. ISBN 0 946184 06 2.
- Trevena, Arthur (1981). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 2. Redruth: Atlantic Books. pp. 33–34, 39–41, 43, 45, 47–48. ISBN 0-906899-03-6.
- Earnshaw, Alan (1991). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 7. Penryn: Atlantic Books. pp. 32–40, 42, 44–48. ISBN 0-906899-50-8.
- Hoole, Ken (1983). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 4. Truro: Atlantic Books. pp. 6–7, 9–13, 17–18, 25–27, 36, 44–45. ISBN 0-906899-07-9.
- "Waverley Rail Project route".
- "70% want end to rail privatisation", www.globalrailnews.com, 13 Sep 2012
- "Britain's Railway (but not for long)"
- Brady, Robert A. (1950). Crisis in Britain. Plans and Achievements of the Labour Government. University of California Press., on nationalization 1945-50, pp 236–83
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