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|Founded||1 January 1948|
|Defunct||1 February 2001|
British Railways (BR), which from 1965 traded as British Rail, was the state-owned company that operated most of the overground
The period of nationalisation saw sweeping changes in the national railway network. A process of
On privatisation, responsibility for track, signalling and stations was transferred to
The British Rail "double arrow" logo is formed of two interlocked arrows showing the direction of travel on a
During this period the
The rail transport system in Great Britain developed during the 19th century. After the grouping of 1923 under the
There were also
The Railway Executive was conscious that some lines on the (then very dense) network were unprofitable and hard to justify socially, and a programme of closures began almost immediately after nationalisation. However, the general financial position of BR became gradually poorer, until an operating loss was recorded in 1955. The Executive itself had been abolished in 1953 by the Conservative government, and control of BR transferred to the parent Commission. Other changes to the British Transport Commission at the same time included the return of road haulage to the private sector.
British Railways was divided into regions which were initially based on the areas the former Big Four operated in; later, several lines were transferred between regions. Notably, these included the former
The North Eastern Region was merged with the Eastern Region in 1967. In the 1980s, the regions were abolished and replaced by "business sectors", a process known as
The Anglia Region was created in late 1987, its first General Manager being John Edmonds, who began his appointment on 19 October 1987. Full separation from the Eastern Region – apart from engineering design needs – occurred on 29 April 1988. It handled the services from
The report, latterly known as the "Modernisation Plan", was published in January 1955. It was intended to bring the railway system into the 20th century. A government
The government appeared to endorse the 1955 programme (costing £1.2 billion), but did so largely for political reasons. This included the withdrawal of steam traction and its replacement by diesel (and some electric) locomotives. Not all the modernisations would be effective at reducing costs. The dieselisation programme gave contracts primarily to British suppliers, who had limited experience of diesel locomotive manufacture, and rushed commissioning based on an expectation of rapid electrification; this resulted in numbers of locomotives with poor designs, and a lack of standardisation. At the same time,
During the late 1950s, railway finances continued to worsen, whilst passenger numbers grew after restoring many services reduced during the war, and in 1959 the government stepped in, limiting the amount the BTC could spend without ministerial authority. A White Paper proposing reorganisation was published in the following year, and a new structure was brought into effect by the Transport Act 1962. This abolished the Commission and replaced it by several separate Boards. These included a British Railways Board, which took over on 1 January 1963.
Following semi-secret discussions on railway finances by the government-appointed Stedeford Committee in 1961, one of its members,
A major traffic census in April 1961, which lasted one week, was used in the compilation of a report on the future of the network. This report—The Reshaping of British Railways—was published by the BRB in March 1963. The proposals, which became known as the "
Most of the closures were carried out between 1963 and 1970 (including some which were not listed in the report) while other suggested closures were not carried out. The closures were heavily criticised at the time, and continue to be controversial. A small number of stations and lines closed under the Beeching programme have been reopened, with further reopenings proposed.
A second Beeching report, "The Development of the Major Trunk Routes", followed in 1965. This did not recommend closures as such, but outlined a "network for development". The fate of the rest of the network was not discussed in the report.
The basis for calculating passenger fares changed in 1964. In future, fares on some routes—such as rural, holiday and commuter services—would be set at a higher level than on other routes; previously, fares had been calculated using a simple rate for the distance travelled, which at the time was 3d per mile second class, and 4½d per mile first class (equivalent to £0.23 and £0.35 respectively, in 2016).
Passenger levels decreased steadily from 1962 to the late 1970s, and reached a low in 1982. Network improvements included completing electrification of the
The 1980s and 1990s saw the closure of some railways which had survived the Beeching Axe a generation earlier, but which had seen passenger services withdrawn. This included the bulk of the
A further British Rail report, from a committee chaired by Sir David Serpell, was published in 1983. The
Upon sectorisation in 1982, three passenger sectors were created:
Because British Railways was such a large operation, running not just railways but also ferries, steamships and hotels, it has been considered difficult to analyse the effects of nationalisation. During the 1980s British Rail ran the
Prices rose quickly in this period, rising 108% in real terms from 1979 to 1994, as prices rose by 262% but RPI only increased by 154% in the same time.