On this day in history : 27th March 1963 – The Beeching Report is published….signalling the end for approximately one-third of Britain’s rail network and the loss of thousands of jobs….

Dr. Richard Beeching, physician and engineer, was recruited by the government to make Britain’s railways profitable again…. He left his very successful career at ICI to do so….

Dr. Richard Beeching – Image credit: James via Flickr

Beeching’s report, entitled ‘The Reshaping of British Railways’ declared large parts of the network were uneconomic and underused…. Only half of the railway system carried enough traffic to cover the cost of operating it…. Beeching recommended axing 6,000 miles of track – including hundreds of branch lines – and the closure of 2,363 stations, with the loss of tens of thousands of jobs…. He argued improved bus services would replace trains and placed an emphasis on faster rail links between cities…. At the time the railway network was running at a loss of £140m per year; Beeching claimed his axing of services would make a net saving of £18m per year…. He stated the first closures would likely be made in the coming autumn, he predicted the loss of 70,000 jobs and fare increases of at least 10% in London….

Closure of railway between Aviemore & Forres (via Dava) and Aviemore & Craigellachie on 18 October 1965, issued by British Rail
Image credit: mikeyashworth via Flickr

This did not make Dr. Beeching a popular man…. Pressure groups throughout the Country formed, launching campaigns to try and save their railway lines…. Although he had said cuts were to be made as soon as possible it was actually a very slow process…. In 1965 Beeching published a second report – reiterating the conclusions from the first report….

The closures began to pick up at a much faster pace during the mid 1960s…. By the time the reshape had finally finished Beeching’s axe had chopped 2,128 stations and 67,700 jobs….

The images below show a train in the station at Cranleigh, which would have been the nearest station to us here in Dunsfold – and some scenes from the now defunct Guildford to Horsham line…. As you can see, in some places such as Bramley, original features of some of the stations can still be seen….. It is in fact now a very a pleasant trail used by walkers and cyclists….

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