Government, the Railways and the Modernization of Britain: by Charles Loft

By Charles Loft

Greater than forty years after its booklet, the 1963 Beeching file on British railways continues to be arguable for recommending the closure of a 3rd of Britain’s railways. during this e-book, Charles Loft examines: why the nationalized railways have been in such dire monetary straits by way of 1963 how executive paintings on destiny delivery wishes resulted in conclusions which might have minimize Britain’s railways down by means of hundreds of thousands of miles what problems ultimately halted makes an attempt via Conservative and Labour governments to enforce those cuts. This publication might be priceless to an individual drawn to how shipping coverage is made or the way it has arrived at its present nation and sheds attention-grabbing new mild at the operating of presidency, the financial system and the temper of the days lower than Churchill, Eden, Macmillan and Wilson.

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In September 1953, when General Sir Brian Robertson replaced Lord Hurcomb, the Government placed the Commission in the hands of a man with very limited business experience, whose colleagues were generally part-time or underpaid. The Transport Act stipulated that the Railway Executive should be abolished, leaving the BTC with the dual role of overseeing all nationalized transport and acting as central authority for the railways, an arrangement its 30 The railway problems financial comptroller Sir Reginald Wilson called ‘a first class English mess’.

By 1947 the industry was suffering from a quarter of a century of under-investment and a severe lack of maintenance during the busiest few years in its history. Had the railways remained in private ownership they would still have faced demands for better wages and opposition to closures and it is difficult to see how they could have paid a dividend, yet nationalization saddled them with the requirement to earn a return and redeem their capital. In theory coordination offered an opportunity either to transfer unprofitable traffic to road and manage the restructuring of the industry, or to stifle road competition.

What part should be played by the railways in a fully integrated system having regard to all the means of transport and techniques of handling goods and passengers now available or likely to be so in the foreseeable future . . until this fundamental issue is cleared it is hardly possible for the country to have a coherent transport policy . . [and] our transport policy as a whole will be liable to drift and capital investment in transport will be devoid of firm guiding principles. 35 The Railway Rates Tribunal became the Transport Tribunal and regional Transport Users’ Consultative Committees (TUCCs) were established to oversee the BTC, representing agriculture, commerce, industry, shipping, labour and local government (the Commission was also represented).

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