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Memoria e Ricerca

British railways system during in the postwar period: Beeching reform in 1963

di Manuel J. Muriel Ramírez
in Memoria e Ricerca n.s. 45 (2014), p. 157

The Reshaping of British railways in 1963 was a process of an extraordinary extent in a concern that back then had half a million employees. The closures of branch lines amounted to a mileage equivalent to the Spanish railways main network at that time. The Beeching Report, a white paper little known outside the UK, shows sixty years later its exceptional value – from the point of view of both economic history and business studies. This paper aims to shed light on the document and the context in which its recommendations were carried out. Also, we make an ex post assessment with the help of the academic literature that followed and the evolution of railway transport since then.One particular feature of British railways is its high capacity (double or multiple track). Our research shows that the reshaping was extensive rather than intensive: the British Railways Board (BRB) was unable to reduce its plant (the excess of capacity) while keeping the lines. This was probably a result of having come first and invested too much in infra-structure. Keywords: Railways history, British railways, Beeching, Network reform, Great Britain, Postwar period.