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Beeching- The Definitive Guide


Described as the most hated civil servant in Britain, Dr Richard Beeching was appointed as chairman of British Railways with one key directive, to cut the soaring losses. The 1950s had seen the start of a mass shift from public to private transport, as lorries, cars, buses and motorbikes replaced trains. So often pilloried by the press and public for closing numerous picturesque and romantic country branch lines, leaving even many large towns cut off from the railway network, Beeching might also be seen as merely streamlining a process that was already under way. Back in the early 1960s, there were many who thought the days of steam locomotives numbered, and, those of railways too. Robin Jones looks back at the forces that were shaping the railway's fortunes, the Beeching Axe, its critics, aftermath and its repercussions today. Was Dr Beeching the villain of popular legend or was he a hero who made Britain's railways into a slimmer, leaner machine far more capable of tackling the challenges of the future?
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