Dr Beeching's Remedy: A Cure For a Century of the Railway's Ills
The ten years from 1955 to 1965 arguably witnessed a greater upheaval in the way BR operated than the period surrounding privatisation. First came the 1955 Modernisation Plan, when vast sums were invested in order to make the network more efficient. Then, in 1962, Richard Beeching was appointed as BR chairman with a mandate to make the Railways run at a profit.
The issues he faced were long-standing and very deep-seated and can be traced back over the previous hundred years. Both Modernisation and Beeching had momentous repercussions on BR and were more complementary than conflicting with each other. With steam already eliminated from some parts of the country and line closures beginning to prune the number of route miles, the rail scene at the end of 1965 looked a lot different than it did a decade earlier.
Beeching's work is often regarded as negative but yet it was mirrored years later by every railway system across Western Europe and had many supporters within BR top brass. Dr Beeching's Remedy puts Beeching's Reshaping report within the historical context of a century of railway evolution. The author is renowned for his knowledge of the history of Britain's railways, having written extensively on the subject and his re-interpratation of the story has been aided by access to official files now open to the public at the National Archives.
As we approach the 50th anniversary of the Beeching report this book is a timely re-evaluation from a broad perspective of the impact of the report.