Last Trains (eBook)

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  • 91,588 Words
  • 336 Pages

During the course of the 1950s England lost confidence in its rulers and convinced itself it must modernise. The bankrupt, steam-powered railway, run by a Colonel Blimp, symbolised everything that was wrong with the country; the future lay in motorways and high-speed electric - or even atomic - express trains. But plans for a gleaming new railway system ended in failure and on the roads traffic ground to a halt. Along came Dr Beeching, forensically analysing the railways' problems and expertly delivering his diagnosis: a third of the nation's railways must go. Local services were destroyed, rural England sacrificed for tarmac and wheel - at least that is how Dr Beeching is remembered today. Last Trains examines why and how the railway system contracted, exposing the political failures that bankrupted the railways and scrutinising the attempts of officials to understand a transport revolution beyond their control. It is a story of the increasing alienation of bureaucrats from the public they thought they were serving, but also of a nation struggling to come to terms with modernity.

During the course of the 1950s England lost confidence in its rulers and convinced itself it must modernise. The bankrupt, steam-powered railway, run by a Colonel Blimp, symbolised everything that was wrong with the country; the future lay in motorways and high-speed electric - or even atomic - express trains. But plans for a gleaming new railway system ended in failure and on the roads traffic ground to a halt. Along came Dr Beeching, forensically analysing the railways' problems and expertly delivering his diagnosis: a third of the nation's railways must go. Local services were destroyed, rural England sacrificed for tarmac and wheel - at least that is how Dr Beeching is remembered today. Last Trains examines why and how the railway system contracted, exposing the political failures that bankrupted the railways and scrutinising the attempts of officials to understand a transport revolution beyond their control. It is a story of the increasing alienation of bureaucrats from the public they thought they were serving, but also of a nation struggling to come to terms with modernity.


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by Charles Loft

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