There is a secret from the 1970s that remains forgotten, even by those who wrote the story of the decline of Britain’s railway.
There is no electric railway, it says, no trans-Pennine railway.
And, it could, if the British National Railways reorganisation goes ahead, soon, disappear altogether.
Janette Hardwick, chief executive of the British Transport Museum in York, and director of the ongoing Historic Railways Unit, a website set up to showcase abandoned and deteriorating London and Edinburgh transport projects, writes:
The railway, which is arguably Britain’s greatest story of heritage: it shares the same theme, starting at the heart, with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and runs all the way to the end of the rainbow, circling the country. To me, it’s as British a story as the full flight of the birds, which proved to be a team player for both species.
When the Victorians were building the infrastructure for the early British railways they did so using steam. And they did so in a fully regulated, state-controlled sector. When the railways were deregulated in 1974, almost all of it was privatised – and we’ve had wars and recession since then. More importantly, following the privatization, passenger costs increased hugely.
“The Victorian railway may have been underfunded because the system was built on the backs of the people, but it was one which was supported by the whole country because there was a state-controlled, public institution.”