As the final quarter of the 20th century commenced, Britain's railways, n ow dubbed "British Rail", were very different to what had been taken over by the nation in 1948, thanks in part to Dr Richard Beeching.
In truth, as we have seen the previous three programmes, Dr Beeching's plan to modernise the railways was a reaction to political pressure on the railways stretching back to the First World War. However, it included a great deal of forward thinking as to how to make them fit for the future. Elimination of under-performing assets had resulted in a leaner, fitter system which could capitalise on it's strengths.
As motoring became less attractive as a result of rising fuel prices and congestion, railways became more competitive and the historical decline started to reverse. Despite further threats tot heir existence in the early 1980s, by the end of the decade massive re-equipment programmes were in place with, schemes such as the electrification of the East Coast main Line completed. The 1990s saw the operating of the long-awaited Channel Tunnel with its direct connection with Europe and the Conservative Government then decided to turn railways to the private sector.
The final part of our series concludes with the often-painful story of the railways today, with their myriad operators and colours, as they travel into a future with a seemingly never-ending growth in traffic, proving that they are a vital part of the transport industry of the future: truly, Beeching Legacy.
Case - Good
DVD - Excellent